FREELANCE COPYWRITERS + BRAND IDENTITY

So you say, “I’m a contract writer, I don’t need a brand identity.”

And I’m like, “Dude, you need a brand identity.”

Then you’re all, “But does that mean I need a logo?”

(silence)

Then I say sighing, “A logo is not a brand identity.”

So instead of rolling my eyes at the mention of a logo in any way being a brand (and though a logo does identify a brand it is not a brand identity) let’s Tarantino this a bit and start way back at the beginning to unravel the real goods here.

(And PS: Our whip smart friends over at the American Marketing Association defines a brand as the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s goods or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Therefore a brand identity orients the WORLD to your company reputation. This happens through sharing [in your logo, interactions, web presence, social media guise, etc] what you’re passionate about, the point of your business, how strengths are reinforced and how you are idiosyncratic among competitors.)

For freelance writers figuring out your brand identity might feel daunting, or maybe even unnecessary, but, believe me, it is neither.

KNOW THYSELF

Here’s the thing: to make it as a freelance writer you have to get your niche nailed down. No, you probably won’t get paid to write about whatever you want to write about (at least not at first, anyway…if it were me I’d love to write about all the truly amazingly bizzare one-liners from my ex-boyfriends but turns out the market for those doozies is nil at best).

So…what is your writing sweet spot? Here are some niches worth considering:

  • website copy
  • technical writing
  • copy for print
  • commercial scripts
  • tweets
  • annual reports
  • blogging
  • facebook posts
  • social media communication of all kinds
  • curriculum
  • SEO keyword phrasing
  • packaging copy
  • banner ad copy
  • mobile ad copy
  • email newsletters
  • marketing collateral
  • taglines
  • mission statements
  • ghostwriting
  • medical writing
  • law copy

It can go on and on. The danger is when writers say they can write ANYTHING. Well, okay, most good writers could take on nearly any kind of writing project, it’s true. But when you’re figuring out your brand identity–the way you want to form the reputation emitted from you and your brand–shaping your identity around your known strengths will be a boon.

I recently had a client ask me if could write high-level legal copy for an law firm consortium. Nope. And I wouldn’t want to ruin my reputation by taking on a job that could leave the client frustrated, bewildered and backlogged thanks to an inept writer. Just like I don’t profess to write legal copy, I do project and go after work that has me writing copy I can assuredly deliver to clients.

I could happily pass that work to a writer I knew had gone to law school and would be the perfect fit for their needs (and I resisted [until now] saying, “I don’t speak that legal mumbo jumbo” because that mumbo jumbo is actually someone’s passion and expertise).

Know thyself. If you have to say no to some project it just means you’re saying yes to something else (though you may not know what at the time).

Know what you’re good at and form your brand identity around that premise.

FILL IN THE CRACKS

By this I mean, once you have found what you’re good at you can start filling in blank spots (online or in your communications) with that kind of attitude. For example–maybe your thing is writing light, clever Facebook posts (you ever visited the Skittles Facebook page? some witty little writer cookie has found their sweet spot [pun fully intended]). Okay, great…so your website needs to present itself with light, clever content. Your logo might be inviting and smart (instead of dark and heavy). Your website bright and witty.

Even down to how you communicate on email…even your email signature. All of this matters. It matters to your brand identity. It matters to your clients. It matters to you (believe me).

Begin shaping the way you present yourself on the interwebs to reflect the brand identity you aim to nurture.

DISCOVER YOUR PROMISES

Promises? Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye. What, are we in junior high again? Ugh. But seriously find out what promises you can make to your clients. These are the ways you are unique among all your freelance writing buddies…things like:

  • I promise to never miss a deadline
  • I promise to include two rounds of revisions in my bid
  • I promise to do quick turn projects for an increased rate
  • I promise to be witty
  • I promise to be kind
  • I promise to be authentic

So your job is to discover your promises–both emotional and rational. Once these are found, they start to shape your way of being when working with clients. This, then, works to solidify your brand identity. Clients, then, know what to expect–no loose canons here.

Getting those three things down (knowing yourself, creating your brand and discovering the promises you can keep) work to let the world and your clients really “get” your brand identity. Eventually clients and potential clients will see your name or company logo and connect with a feeling about you or your work (hardworking, smart, fast, kind, brilliant, funny, serious, dependable) and that feeling is exactly what all the work of solidifying your brand identity is meant to evoke.

When well-planned a brand identity sticks like glue and works like magic.

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