Before I started freelancing I spent years working at different design agencies. And the one thing that was guaranteed to make my heart sink at each and every one of them? That moment when someone said 'I think it's time we looked at our brand' (or website, or brochure or credentials).
Now I love creating brands. If I could do that every day I would be a very happy designer. But in my limited experience, agencies are rubbish at doing this for themselves. Rules and tried and tested processes go out of the window. Egos get in the way. Work gets in the way and the project drags on. And on. The end result may be brilliant but the process is painful and often unnecessarily costly. In short, we are our own worst client.
A few months ago I was given the opportunity to pitch for an account. It was for a sector I have experience in and would involve regular work. The holy grail for us freelancers, so time to pull out all the stops. I had a pitch planning meeting with myself and decided the time had come to create my own brand story. It was time to treat myself as a client and really think about what I had to offer and what I wanted to stand for.
Having learnt from all that agency experience, I set a deadline and I did my customer research. I spoke to some of my clients about what they were looking for in a freelance designer aside from the creativity. I asked for feedback on my own approach and looked back over past comments I had received on projects. The common thread that came up in one form or another throughout all the feedback; I make clients work lives easier. Not very rock and roll is it? But that is exactly what I set out to do with every project. I'm lucky in that I really love what I get to do for a job. I probably actually have Sharpie ink running through my veins. However, I know that for most of my clients, getting a product brochure sorted or an ad created are not highlights of their day. They are just two of the boxes to be ticked off a very long 'to do' list. They don't really want hundreds of questions or hazy timeframes. They want some kick-ass designs created in a timely fashion, at a reasonable cost. They want design without the drama.
And there it is – my brand promise. Design without the drama. I took my own advice, took some time out and did some proper customer research and then I formalised my point of difference. In those four words I have managed to encapsulate my approach, personality and tone of voice and they have now become a core part of my brand.
In truth, I've been using this approach ever since I started freelancing but this process helped me turn it into a compelling story. One that is now something tangible and much easier to pitch to clients. So yes, sometimes it's definitely good to follow your own advice. And yes you should definitely take control and define your own brand story!
If you'd like to know what you can expect if you hire me, here's my 5-point promise in 45 seconds. If I sound like your kind of designer, get in touch and let's have a chat about what you need.