12 Ways to Elevate Your Personal Brand and Look More Professional

Published on May 2, 2022

According to the American Marketing Association, “a brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers” (source). It’s also worth noting that a brand can stand for something, it can make people feel something, it can instill trust, it can tell a story, and many other things. No matter what industry you’re in, or how large your company is, every business can benefit from a strong brand.

Let’s suppose you’re shopping for a new car. Do you want something with luxury and status? Chances are you’ll want a Jaguar or a Porsche. Are you more concerned about safety and reliability? Then you might consider a Toyota or a Honda. You also might avoid certain car brands because of how you feel about them (e.g., when some people think of Ford, they might think “fix or repair daily”). This is an example of how we as consumers are drawn to different brands of products and services more than others.

When starting a web design business, you’ll have to consider how you want you and your business to be perceived as well as how you can set yourself apart from the other web designers. For example, do you want clients to see you as the cheapest option? The fastest option? Or maybe the most comprehensive option (the “one stop shop” of choice so to speak)?

There are a number of factors that go into building a personal brand. Before a prospective client buys any service from you, they must first buy into YOU and be sold on YOU. As networking and referral expert Bob Burg put it, “all things being equal, people do business with, and refer business to people they know, like and trust” (source).

Follow these twelve tips below and you’ll be on your way to developing your brand and looking more professional:

1. Come Up with Good Name for Your Agency

Oftentimes, your brand begins with your business name. Customers can develop preconceived notions about your brand from your business name alone. A more traditional or formal name may come off more serious and potentially even more trustworthy. A fun or silly name can be more memorable and approachable. On the other hand, a complicated or obscure business name can easily be forgotten and could potentially deter customers from doing business with you.

If you’re just getting your web design business off the ground, take some time to come up with a few options for your company name. Narrow down your top picks and then choose your favorite. Need help brainstorming business names for your company? Check out this article for some helpful tips.

2. Invest in a Professionally Designed Logo

A well designed logo will be one of your most important branding elements. In fact, you can think of your logo as the foundation of your brand identity. The colors, text, and other parts of your logo will set the tone for all your efforts and your brand as a whole.

Also keep in mind that logos serve as a point of identification. When other people catch sight of your logo, you’ll want them to associate your logo with memories of what your company does and how it makes them feel. For instance, whenever you’re driving around and see the McDonald’s golden arches at a distance, what immediate memories or feelings might you have? In most cases, you’ll be reminded of a company known for selling cheap food quickly and maybe even memories of eating Happy Meals when you were younger. Let’s suppose you’re grocery shopping and you see a 20 ounce Coca-Cola in the impulse buy section. Chances are you might recall memories of pleasant get-togethers where you enjoyed a Coke with other friends and family.

While you could take the do it yourself (DIY) route and use a tool like Canva for creating your logo, it will be worth the investment to hire someone to professionally design it for you. Fiverr can be a great place to start - as you browse the different graphic designers, be sure to pay attention to their portfolios and reviews from past buyers. You could also use a service like DesignCrowd where you post a project and have multiple freelancers send you logo concepts to choose from.

3. Order Business Cards

After you have a logo in place, you’ll want to design and print some business cards that you can hand out at marketing and networking events. Whenever you are out and about, you never know when someone will ask for a card. Vistaprint is a very popular vendor for business cards - they have plenty of templates and options for you to choose from.

4. Get a Custom Email Address @ Your Domain

A custom email address is a fast and easy way to elevate your brand and help you appear more professional. Rather than using your personal email address, opt for an email that you will use exclusively for business. Sending and receiving emails through an address with your business domain name will keep your branding consistent and can impact how clients and prospects perceive your business.

Many online domain providers also offer an add-on service in which you can easily purchase a custom email domain. You can also choose to use a popular service provider such as Google Workspace and Office 365 for Business. These options come with added perks such as online storage space and document editing capabilities.

5. Create an Email Signature

This will help you professionally sign off on all your email messages. When people see your logo and contact info at the bottom of an email that uses the same colors and fonts as your website and other marketing materials, this will help you create a strong sense of brand recognition and professionalism.

Ideally you’ll want your email signature to be 3 - 4 lines max and include your name, title, and a link to your website. You can step it up a notch by including your headshot or company logo. Looking for a cool way to stylize your email signature? HubSpot and WiseStamp both offer a free email signature generator.

6. Get a Dedicated Business Phone Line

Just as it’s a best practice to keep your personal finances and business finances separate, you’ll also want to keep your personal phone line and business phone line separate. Sure you could use just one phone number for personal and business use, but keep in mind that you might have clients try to call you after hours when you’re trying to enjoy some downtime. Having a separate number for business calls will not only contribute to your work/life balance but also help you come across as more professional.

Most services are very affordable and easy to set up. One of the best free options is Google Voice - as long as you have a gmail account, you can get a free local number that can forward calls to your smartphone. However, if you’d like the ability to track call duration, hold times, and/or other metrics, then Nextiva would be an excellent alternative.

7. Update or Create Your Social Media Profiles

It may seem convenient to use your personal accounts for your business’s social media presence but, just like you would create a custom email address with your business domain, you should also set up social media pages specifically for your business. Not only will your business’s profile pages appear professional but there are a lot of great features you can take advantage of when you set up social media accounts dedicated to your business.

While a website is very important for the long term success of any business, having multiple social media accounts is important for getting discovered in more places. The more places people can find you, the better. Just remember to use the same logo, colors, and other branding elements throughout all your social media accounts in order to be consistent. Also make sure that the tone and messaging you use in social media is consistent with the tone and messaging you use for your business in other places.

While you don’t need to be on every single platform, you’ll at least want to be on Facebook and LinkedIn. In addition to posting valuable content (such as quotes or pro tips), you can also run ads to target local small business owners.

8. Host a Live Event or Workshop

A live event could take place in person (such as a seminar or workshop at your local library) or virtually (like a webinar). This gives you an opportunity to provide value and showcase your knowledge and expertise while elevating your personal brand. Just make sure that your message or topics reflect your company’s brand and goals.

If you decide to host a webinar or other virtual live event and use PowerPoint or Google Slides, your slides should display the same color scheme, font scheme, logo, and other branding elements that you use on your website and other places in order to reinforce your brand identity. On the other hand, if you prefer to conduct a seminar or workshop in person, you’ll definitely want to have business cards and other marketing materials ready to hand out. You could even have signage to flank you and reinforce your message and brand.

Whether you host a live event in person or virtually, remember to record the live event. This way you can use clips and photos of it on YouTube and other social media to effectively enhance your brand.

9. Publish a Blog Article and/or Press Release

This will help spread the word about you and your new venture. When writing the blog article, you don’t want to just talk about your services. You’ll also want to lead with value such as talking about the importance of having a small business website in general. Be sure to have a strong call to action (CTA) near the end of the blog post (e.g., “if you’re ready to get a website for your business, click here to schedule a free consultation”). You might want to consider offering an incentive to your first 10 customers.

A press release can help generate more exposure for you and your brand. According to the Horton Group, the benefits of a well written press release include:

  • Serving as an excellent public relations & marketing tool
  • Helping you control your story
  • Improving your SEO
  • Boosting your social media
  • Displaying your expertise

Whether you decide to publish a blog article or a press release (if not both), remember that as you add more content about your company to the web, this gives you a better “digital footprint”. This also gives you more stuff you can refer back to in your email signature and other marketing pieces in order to further enhance your brand. 

10. Utilize Our Marketing Resources

Here at SiteSwan, we are committed to your success. We provide you an agency website, marketing brochures, sales sheets, and other tools you might need. You can view an example of how your agency website would look here. You would of course insert your own logo on the upper left of the home page. Keep in mind that your website along with your logo can really serve as the central hub of the majority of marketing and branding that takes place with your company.

11. Create Promotional Products & Apparel

Another way to enhance and bring awareness to your brand is to create products and apparel with your business name or logo. Consider items that are relevant to your business and target market and give them away to local business owners. Promotional products such as pens, mugs, and mouse pads can grab their attention, remind them of your brand, and put it in a positive light for them.

Promotional apparel with an imprint of your business logo (and website URL) is a great way to further market your business brand. Hand out t-shirts, hats, tote bags, etc. to your family, friends, and even loyal customers. Not only will they get excited by the complimentary swag but they can become free brand promoters as they wear it while walking around town. 

12. Be Authentic and Tell Your Story

Every good business brand tells a story that supports its core beliefs, values and mission. A lot can be said about the power of storytelling. People connect with stories in a way that allows them to have a deeper understanding which makes them feel a certain way and can facilitate a stronger bond.

To help support your brand image, try creating your own origin story. Once you identify the main turning points in your life that made you who you are, weave these together into a story of your life. To give a visual element, incorporate authentic photographs and display them in the “about us” section on your website. The most important thing is to be confident in the story you’re telling and keep it consistent with your brand.

These are excellent ways to build your personal brand and look more professional. You’ll notice how each tip above gives you an opportunity to come across a certain way to your current and prospective clients. Just remember that effective branding is all about consistency: make sure your logo, colors, fonts, messaging, and other elements are the same throughout all your online and offline channels.

Learn how to get started running your own web design business and begin building your own personal brand.

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