No matter how small your business is, you need to establish and position your brand. Your brand communicates what you do, how you do it and what sets you apart from competitors.
Your brand is far more than what you claim to be on paper, building signage or website. It is reflected in the way you answer the telephone, all communication with clients and whether you keep to your delivery time or not.
It starts with the design of your logo. It should clearly display the company name, what you do and convey a ‘personality’ that sets you apart from competitors. That may sound obvious but you would be amazed at how many have set out to impress with abstract, flashy logos that leave recipients searching for clues in the letter itself.
A brand is essentially a container for a customer's complete experience with the product and the company.
The perception of your company (and how you do business) can be altered dramatically by good PR and design. The quality of your service or product will be assumed as the same as your competitors unless you tell your prospective customers otherwise. Typically the only assumed determinant of differentiation will be that of the price.
If you are competing on an equal basis with a competitor, there are three basic ways of differentiating your sales offering:
- More for more: You tell your prospective customers that your premium price buys more than they can get elsewhere.
- More for less: As a freelancer with low overheads you can give you more for less than the price of a national company.
- Less for less: Where quality isn't an issue they may be able to compromise on quality for a lower price.
Creating your Corporate Identity
In every city and town in the UK, you will be able to find a graphic designer (quite possibly a freelancer like yourself) by browsing online on freelancer directories such as Freelance Alliance. Have a look at their portfolio to see if they produce work that you would be happy with. Do they understand what you're looking to achieve? If you have a larger budget you could approach a marketing agency or large design house who would consult with you on the complete package for your company.
Once your main logo has been produced your designer will be able to produce business cards, headed paper for quotes and other standard letters, invoice templates etc. Make sure that you ask for the source files for your logo, usually either as an Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator file as part of the work.
Remember the following legal requirements if you have set up your own limited company.
Letters and orders must contain:
- Name of company
- Country of registration
- Address of registered office
- Company number
- A forename or initial and surname of all of the directors
Invoices must contain:
- Name and address of the company
- VAT registration number
Cheques, official publications and forms must contain:
- Name of company
With your branding in place, you can now move on to developing a marketing plan.
Do not forget that the vast majority of businesses now communicate mainly by email, even if you are not considering having a website at this point in time to make sure that you register a suitable domain name with a host that can provide an email service for you.
More on sales and marketing as a freelancer.