You are your brand — How to use the Brand Sprint as a freelancer
If you’re a freelancer, you are your brand! No pressure!
Ok, wipe that sweat away, it’s not as heavy of a burden as you might think, but — yes there’s always a but — you need to know what your brand is. You are your brand, but your brand is not you. Wait, what? Did I totally confuse you?
Great, now let’s detangle this.
You are your brand. You define it, you get to show yourself in any way you want to.
Your brand is not you. Your brand is not simply who you are as a person at any given time.
You choose what your brand is, which parts of your personality are part of it. I am not saying reinvent yourself completely, but maybe some part of you is only for friends and family. This makes absolute sense, I just want you to be aware of it and that is the reason it is important to define your brand.
Alright, let’s jump into it already.
What is the brand sprint?
The Brand Sprint is a workshop format with a number of activities to generate a clear picture of your brand that you can use to base future decisions on or as Jake Knapp puts it:
The point of these exercises, it turns out, is to make the abstract idea of “our brand” into something concrete. After doing the exercises, the team gets a common language to describe what their company is about — and all subsequent squishy decisions about visuals, voice, and identity become way easier.
You will look into your motivation, add some detail and find out where you are compared to others in the market over the course of these 6 exercises:
- 20-Year Roadmap helps you think long-term.
- What, How, Why reminds you why your company exists.
- Top 3 Values makes your why more specific.
- Top 3 Audiences helps you prioritise the target for your brand.
- Personality Sliders defines the attitude and style of your brand.
- Competitive Landscape compares your brand to other companies.
Get all the details for each step in the original post The Three Hour Brand Sprint — GV Library.
Obviously, there’s no Note & Vote if it is just you and still this is a great technique to clarify where you want to be.
It is important that you remind yourself that this is not about you as a person, but you as a brand or company.
I have made two modifications, I changed up the 20 year roadmap and I have added a 7th exercise that I wanna introduce to you now.
The 20 year roadmap
Since you are your company, it is easy to confuse your company and your personal 20 year roadmap. Do both!
Write two sets of sticky notes, for now, in 5 years, in 10 years, in 15 years and in 20 years. Where do you see your company, where do you see yourself? Sometimes they might overlap, sometimes they won’t.
I have recently done this exercise with an illustrator and she wrote very modest stickies. I asked a few questions and at the end she found out that what she wants to be in 20 years: Just an artist. No more illustration jobs, no more running a shop where you can buy prints and clothes with her illustrations on them. It was a revelation for herself and totally changed the view she had on her current business.
Additional Step: Statements
This is a great last step to combine all the things!
Look at all the stickies and information on the whiteboard. Go through it, narrate it to yourself or have some one else narrate it back to you (even better) and then think about how you can combine all the information into a few simple statements in the following format.
“I help __________ [who] ___________ [to do what] by ________________ [providing what product/service].”
Here’s an example from the Brand Sprint I did with myself (there were only a few discussions, I swear): I help start ups to create a comprehensive product vision and strategy by using established tools, facilitating workshops and coaching them to use the tools and results to grow.
I got the idea from Katie McCann in her article Ask Women in Product: How would you get started in Product Consulting? She used this to define what she is offering as a consultant. I have used this for other freelancers as well, because at the end of the day, we all help our customers to do something. (The debate about client vs customer is a can of worms I happily open at some other time.)
You can also think about this from another perspective: Jobs to be done. This is a product framework that helps to understand the “why” behind a customer’s decision to buy your product (book you). What job is your product hired to do? Now don’t give the obvious and also superficial answer, that’s the trick!
If you’re a freelance designer, sure your customer hires you for a design. And now keep asking why. Why do they need a design? Why did they pick you? Why can you help them?
Do not just see this as a one off and never look at it again, especially in the beginning, you’ll get influenced by other people around you. Refine your brand along the way. The core should hold true over time, but the way you express it may change and that’s ok!
Do you know your brand?