Why Branding is Vital to Your Consulting Business
Branding is certainly a saturated topic, and one we’ve touched on in several articles a few times already. But, if you’re going to be profitable as a consultant, you really can’t underestimate the importance of branding your business effectively.
Branding is such a foundational aspect of your business—it’s not something you can just do on the fly. Don't get in some mindset where you’ll get lazy: “Oh I’ll just let my spouse create my business logo” or “I’ll just save money by printing everything from my living room.” You need to be deliberate.
In my opinion, effective marketing is impossible without a strong brand.
After naming your company, creating your brand image and strategy should be the next thing you do. You’ll want to integrate your brand into your marketing materials, business cards, website, social media…everything.
So, what exactly is a brand? To put it simply, it is the image or title that will represent the quality, uniqueness, professionalism and value of your company and what it offers.
The strongest brands
- Explain who you are to your market
- Attract the right clients
- Differentiate you from your competition
- Represent the value and quality of your business’s mission
- Convey the trustworthiness and reliability you seek to deliver
- Make a promise of what clients can expect from your company
- Imply your professionalism
Here are some good steps to take when creating your brand
Start with a rough draft mission statement. What is it exactly that your company seeks to do for your clients?
Mission statements should be short, and really…not too detailed. They capture the essence of your company’s mission.
Design the brand logo/image. Get professional help with this. Once you can clearly state your company’s mission, seek out a professional logo design firm. Trust me, using crayons, a kitchen table, and stock logos from your computer’s Graphic Art folder will not suffice at all here.
If you can’t find someone local who you like and can afford, try a site like 99designs.com where you can post your request for a logo design and numerous graphic artists will submit concepts. The fees are usually very affordable. A good litmus test is to ask others to tell you what they think the image represents. If they have no clue, or it’s way off the mark, change it.
Protect your brand. Once you have a logo you love, you’ll need to protect it by trademarking it. Some skip this step, but why in the world would you not bother to protect the visual image that represents your entire company? There are a few approaches you can take. Say you’d rather visit a site like legalzoom.com and use their “everything done for you” process (that’s not the real name by the way), which runs approximately $169. Or perhaps you’d rather simply do it yourself directly through the US Patent and Trademark office by going to ustpo.gov and clicking on “trademarks.” Once you get your trademark be sure to show that protection in your actual image by adding the trademark symbol (TM) as part of the actual image file.
Give your brand a tag line. Images can be powerful and should convey a message, but using a tag line helps ensure your clients understand it that much more.
Write a brief (but meaningful) tag line that captures the essence of your value proposition. One of my brands reads: “Talent. Find it. Develop it. Keep it.” This pretty much captures the mission statement for that division.
Proliferate your brand. Once you have your brand image (logo), use it everywhere (and I mean everywhere). The more places people see your brand, the more powerful it becomes. Place it on your letterhead, your business cards, your website, your email signature, your marketing brochures, presentations, videos, articles, social media (use it as your profile picture). EVERYWHERE!
By now it’s hopefully apparent that you don’t want to skimp when it comes to developing and enforcing your brand message and imagery. Make sure you do this right…changing up your brand down the road can be very costly.
If you can curate and stick with a brand that works, you’re well on your way to being profitable as a consultant.
For a whole lot more on this topic, check out theprofitableconsultant.com