Finally, the last “part” of the posts about the VI International Abrates Conference: the one about my own presentation. In case you missed the previous ones, read Part 1 and Part 2. In case you have already read both, please be aware that I’ve been constantly updating Part 2 – and by constantly I mean practically daily – with posts attendees have been writing about their impressions and presenters have been writing about their own presentations, including with links to slide presentations and the like. There are both articles in Portuguese and English, so take a moment to have a look.
My presentation was about branding and the importance of creating a brand to stand out as a professional.
Simply put, branding means managing your brand. However, its meaning goes beyond what mere words can explain, because it involves your values as a person and business, what people think about you – and what they say about you when you are not around – and how they perceive you. And by you, here, I mean your business, because we, as freelancers, are our own businesses; there’s no way to make a difference between one and the other.
I once read a comparison of branding with the shadow. When we go out in the sun, we cast a shadow, right? We can’t help it. It’s not a matter of choice. It’s the exactly same thing with our branding. People will form their own opinions about you as a brand and they will talk. We need to make sure we are doing everything we can to try to show the right image to people so they can say good things about us most of the time. And I say most of time because we can’t please everyone every time.
First of all, in order to create a brand that stands out, you need to follow three important steps:
Think of a name. Do some brainstorming with things you like and that represent you and your business. Write every single thing that comes to your mind, from the languages you work with to your favorite color, for example. Take into account who you are and what you do. Make it simple: to pronounce, write and remember. Ask for your friends and family’s opinion. It may also be a good idea to create a survey with a couple of options and not only send it to your friends and family, but also share it on social media so more unknown people who absolutely don’t know you can give their opinion. Decide if you want to create a brand new name from scratch or if you want to use any or all of your own names.
You can have the name and logo as on single thing, like IBM, for example. They don’t have a separate image that represents their brand, but their name written in a unique font. In this case, the font certainly needs to be unique and customized. If you prefer to create a logo to go with your brand name, it also needs to resonate with your name and, again, your values and characteristics. It needs to be memorable and unique; simple, but not dull; and unforgettable. Great logos can, by themselves, create brand identification. Take the following logos, for example:
Can you tell what brands they are? Easy, right? This is the idea. 😉
Last, but not least, color. According to a survey, 90% of first impressions about a product are based on the color alone. Colors influence the way consumers understand your brand’s personality. Take Harley Davidson, for example. Do you think pink would represent them well? I don’t think so. Color is almost always what makes a brand recognizable at first sight. Can you tell, for example, what is the color of Facebook? Starbucks? Coke? Barbie? Easy again, right? And I know I’m being repetitive here, but that is the idea!
It’s also important to have a look at what emotion each color refers back to. However, it shouldn’t be the only factor to take into account when choosing your color.
After creating your brand, you need to communicate it. The first and most important communication tool is the website. Create a professional and nice-looking page with the most important information a client needs to know, where to find you, the services you provide. If you work with more than one language, translate it to all of them. Buy your own domain and show the client you are a serious professional, and not a part-time translator trying to earn some money on your free time. Consequently, you will also get an email address with your own domain, and not an email provider, such as Hotmail, Yahoo or the like. Also, take some time to create a customized signature for your email with your logo, if possible, your name, contact info and site, mainly. Having a business card is also extremely important, but don’t clutter it with too much information. Website, domain-based email address and business card are the basics.
Now let’s move on to the internet. After all, if you are not on the internet, you do not exist! Simple like that, I’m afraid. The social media is your online brand, and since everything communicates, be extra careful when posting online. If you don’t really like social media a lot, choose one or two platforms you like the most and invest on it. If, on the other hand, you are like me, a social media lover, be careful not to leave a platform unattended. If you don’t use a channel too much, simply delete it. A ghost channel is worst than a non-existent one.
You may be thinking, “I don’t have anything relevant/new to share. Why people would care about what I have to say?” Here’s why:
I always like to compare our brands to those at the supermarket. Some brands are well-located on shelves at eye level or carefully placed where everyone can see. Others are on the last shelves at the bottom, and we have to make an effort to notice them. And some others are in baskets with the sign “On Sale,” mixed up with dozens of others, and we have to make an even greater effort to try to find something of value there. What brand do you want to be?
Remember: you do not have a second chance to make a good first impression. And the simplest things make the biggest difference.
You can also read a brief summary of my presentation according to one of the more than 100 attendees: Laila Compan, from the blog Tradutor Iniciante, here (in Portuguese).