7 Steps Any Solopreneur Can Use to Build a Winning Brand

What does your brand say to your customers? What, you don’t have a brand because you’re a solopreneur; a one-woman shop? Ah, but you do. If you have business, you have a brand, whether you realize it or not.

Think of some of the world-wide brands we experience every day – Target, Dell, and BMW. Just mentioning these names conjures up a feeling, doesn’t it? For example, when you thought of Target you may have felt a bit light and happy because of their upbeat commercials. When you thought of Dell you might have thought “They’re a friendly computer company. I could see myself buying a computer from them.” Or, when BMW crossed your mind, perhaps the image came to your mind of your hands intensely gripping the sterling wheel of the “Ultimate Driving Machine” while your foot is seriously on the accelerator as you swerve around tight-in corners. Oh, the feeling of power under your feet!

When someone says your company’s name, people get some kind of immediate gut feeling, too. Something goes through their mind – That’s your brand.

The question is, “Is it working for you?”

Your brand is the experience your target customers have while interacting with you. If their experience evokes a strong, positive emotional response, then you’ve got a great brand. Why? Because customers buy from emotion and back it up with their head. If your customers have trouble remembering your name when you’re not actually in the room then you need to work on your brand.

Creating a brand isn’t just for the big companies; it’s for companies of all sizes because we’re all fighting for attention from our target customers. Here are seven steps any solopreneur can use to building a winning brand:

Step 1: Rekindle Your Passion – Why did you start your business? What really brings you satisfaction when you’re working with your customers? Tap into your passion about your business and let it resurface. Therein lies the essential emotion of your brand.

Step 2: Describe Your Target Customer – We don’t sell to everyone, we sell to some ONE. Think of your best existing customer and write a paragraph describing him or her – what he/she looks like, his/her age, marital status, any kids, how much money he makes, his/her occupation, needs, interests, etc. Compare this composite to your brand. Would your target customer find your brand emotionally attractive?

Step 3: Identify Your Brand Personality – Even with all the technology tools today, people still buy from people, even if it’s your photo on a website. Your personality plays a huge part in creating your brand experience. And you can’t fake who you are so be clear who what you’re working with. Identify 3 to 5 adjectives that define who you are. These are the cornerstone of your brand as a solopreneur.

Step 4: Name It And Claim It – The name of your company is often how others first interact with your business. Whether your company name is “Virginia Plumbing and Heating” or “Back in Action”, it sends a strong message that either supports or distracts from the experience you’re trying to create. Is it the message you want to send? If not, time for a change.

Step 5: Be Consistent – Every way you interact with your customers needs to reflect your brand personality: Your business name, logo, tag line, corporate colors, stationery, brochures, product packaging, even how your phone is answered and how you respond to “what do you do?” Write down all the ways a person can interact with your company? Is each interaction supporting or derailing your emotional brand experience?

Step 6: Create Experiences, Get Feedback – You have to start somewhere. So, you launch your company and brand and see what works. What ultimately matters is what the customer thinks and feels. Ask current customers what they like about doing business with you, and what they wish was a bit different. Ask potential customers for comments on what caught their attention to check out your business. Listen for specifics.

Step 7: Keep Tweaking – Your brand is a living thing so expect it to change and don’t get up tight if you didn’t get it quite right the first time. No one does, not even the big guys. The key is being deliberate about what your brand stands for, translating that into specific experiences with your customer, proactively getting feedback, and having the courage to make changes.

Working to perfect your brand takes time and deliberate action, but it will pay dividends beyond your wildest dreams. Creating a great brand – one that sparks a positive emotional response in your customers – will have you perceived as an expert in your field, have raving fans (your customers) singing your praises plus bring big profits to your business.

Copyright (c) 2007 Mary Foley