Great Branding is the heart of any business or non-profit success but it also is the core of designer success.
You may as a designer or web developer have all the skills and creative ability in the world but if it is not seen then you are failing in self-promotion and self-branding.
You must remember that building and managing your brand takes elevating yourself to different levels in different ways and showcasing your strengths. So, you may be thinking what can I do to enhance my self-branding and here are some take away tips on how you can do just that.
Learn From The Non-Profit Principles
Learning from the non-profit principles may not be the first thing that comes to mind but I can assure you it is a useful tip.
I actually became involved in fundraising events online and offline with a non-profit charity I support called Cancer Research and whilst working alongside the events I learnt about how they reached out to a wide audience through different methods to gain awareness and the importance of this.
Their name represents everything they deliver and I feel this is important for an organisation delivering a personal message. When I tell people about the loss I experienced in my life and the work that Cancer Research do they understand well that they are raising awareness and money to fund research that can help beat Cancer.
Now think about yourself and your skills, you are serving the web with your skills just like non-profit organisations are serving the community and raising awareness. Non-profits make a difference with their self-branding, the vision and message needs to be widespread and goals need to reflect in their name. This is exactly how you need to be.
For example, is your designer name your own name or are you using a nickname? A designer needs to go by their own name – a lasting personal brand. Once you are showcasing your portfolio of work you will want to be remembered by your own name and the goals you have achieved, so get this right from the get go and link all social networks to your name.
I have seen and learnt that non-profits are not about the overdesign, simple is success for them. Make your self-branding simple, recognisable and as human as possible. When I say as human as possible I mean relate to your audience, blend in and show emotion.
I helped promote a campaign last year called “Best Paw Forward”, which is a simple walking event with a dog – this simple event raised awareness, money and networked out all from enjoying a healthy walk in the great outdoors. Concentrating on the theme and sticking to one goal to involve a pet to raise money worked and a simple thank you message can work well too.
Check out this simple thank you message by Cancer Research UK, which involved a supporter, a scientist and a survivor all coming together to say a simple thank you to everyone and has received 11,159 views already. As you can see the design colour in the video is consistent with CRUK’s brand colours, the message is focussed and clear in design:
Very often web designers and developers can fall into a hole of working too many projects to create awareness; this can be a huge mistake. You can build big but it can fail horribly, so think small like non-profits and think specialised like non-profits.
And how do you do this? Focus on one or two projects and deliver an outstanding project rather than 5 or 6 where perfection will be lacking. The quality in you will shine through this and represent your self-brand well to people looking to hire you.
Design And Build A Website For Yourself And Make It Your Shop Window
If you are in a war zone with other web designers, the front line is going to be active and you will need to defend your quarter. You will need to find alternative options to get yourself noticed and away from the war so think creatively.
One of the best ways to establish visibility as a designer is becoming an expert in your field and building yourself a website.
You need to begin writing relevant content and blogging on your niche skills as this will bring people to your shop window. Are you experienced in Photoshop, jQuery or PHP then get the word out there, offer advice and show what you are specialised in.
Here are some tips to follow:
- First make sure you have an easy to manage website set up.
WordPress is a great hosting platform for beginners, where you do not have to download software, manage a web server or pay for hosting. It is free to obtain and has over 200 themes, and out of those 130 of the themes are free.
What is great about WordPress is it is simple; customise your site how you want it to be, go mobile by uploading content to your site on the go through the handy app and get social through social networking plugins, which gives you more functionality.
If you are looking for an outstanding CMS this is the one.
- Once you have set up your CMS (Content Management System), you then need to think about the structure and functionality of your site.
The structure of content, the menu and the navigation bar are very important as well as the loading time. Your categories must be appealing and clickable, and so you should be including an “about me” profile section, a features section on your portfolio of work, interviews, tutorials and a visual contact section.
Recently, InstantShift published an infographic on “Why Good Website Design Is So Important” – have a look at this as this brings you stats and figures to prove what impacts users and why the layout and loading times are important when it comes to functionality of a site.
- Do have a call to action on every page of your website.
For example, if you have you have a demo video then hyperlink it to another section of your site – lead the viewer around your site and make sure the hyperlink is above the fold at eye view as some users may not drag down the page if they are not engaged while reading your content.
- Make sure your site is designed to show people when you are available.
Jazz up your “contact me” section. What is the best time to contact you? Maybe create a bold design of a clock and show you are contactable at this time or add a calendar – create that call to action! Widgets and buttons are visually appealing and useful, so use them.
Photo Credit: European Parliament
Remember, your shop window is everything; introduce yourself to the audience that is waiting on all platforms.
Adding value is always a key selling point in business so utilise your design and development skills in the same way. Build your personal connection with the audience and even offer to provide free tutorials or develop them an app to use.
You can even go a step further and set up a YouTube channel to upload your tutorials and guides. The benefit of having a YouTube channel is you can track your analytics on viewers and manage your content better by tailoring it to what suits the audience subscribing. In addition, you can promote your YouTube account on your personal website through widgets and buttons.
The Tick List – Take Action
Make sure you tick the following off your list:
- If your work is published on a number of websites then make sure it is consistent in design and format as this brands you.
- If you network online, which every designer and developer should be doing then make sure you promote your design work through consistent hash tags.
- If you do happen to be involved with the design or build a client site, make it part of the deal that you get a site credit, to build awareness of you.
- If you do not have a business card, get one. A business card is not only informative but eye catching – design it with your own skills.
All these things above are important to being visible in your shop window and welcoming people into your world.
Build Yourself With Tools
You may be fully equipped with your own skills but it never harms to improve your skills along your way to success. Keep up with the trends and the latest industry news and use new tools to learn.
“Google Web Designer” is a new tool for building interactive ads and html5 sites. Why not play around with this public beta tool, the core features and applications will broaden your knowledge if anything.
You can also experiment with chrome extensions and old tools like ColorZilla available at www.colorzilla.com, and is a cool tool that assists web developers and graphic designers in their job and if you’re looking for colour pickers, eye dropper, gradient generators then this old extension has it all.
Utilise “Code Anywhere” which is available on codeanywhere.net, and is exactly what its name says, you can code anywhere!
You just log on to the app either through a computer or smartphone and your entire server file will be sitting there just awaiting you to dive in. What is great is even if you have not finished coding and log off when you log back on your coding will still be there, no unfinished business erased.
As you can see, great branding for web designers and developers not only spreads awareness but it encourages confidence to explore alternatives. You may develop great self-branding but skills and uniqueness will never end your product line.
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