What Freelancers Need To Know About Consistency, Traction, And Brand Equity

If you want to charge premium fees and be choosy about who you work with, you need consistency to gain traction and build brand equity.

Brand Equity

The strongest, longest-lasting, brands are well-known and have widespread recognition. They are remembered, respected, and referred to often. They spark memories and evoke deep emotional responses — both good and bad. They turn customers and clients into fans, ambassadors, and evangelists.

These brands — Apple, Nike, Starbucks, Rolex, Disney, and even WP Engine, Chris Lema, Moo, OptinMonster, and Gusto — have, at some level, transcended their logos, messaging, and even products. The reputation and consumer perception tied to each of these brands give them incredible value. It’s what makes a brand a business’ most valuable asset.

This value is referred to as brand equity.

Brand equity is the commercial value and worth of a brand based on its reputation and consumer perception.

Think of brand equity like home equity:

  • A house increases in value and builds equity as the owner invests in it through mortgage payments and home improvements. Home equity increases over time if it’s in a desirable location with good schools, its surrounding neighborhood and city also see improvements, or its architecture and design are aligned with what buyers want.
  • A brand increases in value and builds equity as the owner invests in it through brand design, brand messaging, consistent marketing, and business improvements. Brand equity increases as more people become aware of the brand, it earns recognition in its niche, and as it associates with other valuable brands, celebrities, and strategic partners.

Just as a house with a lot of equity puts more money in a seller’s pockets, a brand with a lot of equity attracts more clients and generates more revenue for the brand owner. Every on-brand action you take is like making a deposit in your brand’s piggy bank.

You can benefit from building brand equity just like the big, global brands do!

As your brand gains traction and becomes more well-known, it becomes easier to close new sales. Clients start chasing you instead of you chasing them and your pipeline fills with qualified leads, which means you can be more choosy about the clients you accept.

Boredom Damages Brand Equity

There’s just one problem — and it’s a doozy! You may be preventing your brand from gaining traction in the market and sabotaging your ability to build brand equity without even knowing it.

Have you thought or said one (or all) of these statements?

  • “My brand is a couple of years old. It’s time for a redesign to keep it fresh and current.”
  • “I’m not attracting the right clients and struggling to find a foothold in my niche, I need to redesign my brand and website.”
  • “I’m so bored of my brand. Everything looks the same. I want to explore some new typefaces and colors and mix things up. It’ll be fun!”

If you answered yes, stop everything you’re doing. Listen to Admiral Ackbar in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, “It’s a trap!” You can’t get caught in the rebrand and redesign trap and let boredom get in the way of building your brand.

HERE’S THE TRUTH:

Just when you begin feeling bored of your brand design and your message starts feeling repetitive, your brand is finally starting to gain real, meaningful traction in the market. Repetitive messaging and consistent design is what builds trust and recognition and helps people remember you.

As the leader of your brand, you will get bored of its visual design and message faster than any other person on the planet (except maybe an in-house designer) because you see everything your brand produces and experience everything your brand does — every social media post, every item designed, every piece of content created, every slide deck built, and every presentation given.

But you are not your clients, your customers, or your audience.

They are busy and distracted. They have their own businesses, teams, lives, families, obligations, goals, priorities, challenges, hobbies keeping them busy. This means they may only see and experience a small fraction of what your brand produces and does.

  • If you tweet 10 times a day, people may only see one or two of those tweets.
  • If you write a blog post every day, people may only read one of them.
  • If you host a free webinar each month, people may only attend one or two a year.

If you want people to see what you’re doing and pay attention, you must show up consistently and take action consistently over time just like the brands that I mentioned above do. Doing so, not only helps your audience get to know you, decide they like you, and feel like they can trust you, it also ensures your brand becomes well-known and stays top of mind.

How To Build Brand Equity

If a brand is the most valuable asset a business has, equity is the most valuable asset a brand has.

Regardless of the type of brand you’re building, to become well-known, earn widespread recognition and respect, position your services as the best and only choice, and make more sales, you need to build brand equity. But how do you build equity for your brand?

You do it with consistency.

Consistency creates traction and traction creates equity.

This means clearly defining your brand and sticking with it for the long haul.

  • Does that mean you can’t ever change anything about your brand? No, of course not! You just have to be smart about how you do it.
  • Does it mean you simply stick your logo on anything and everything! No way! A brand is so much more than a logo.

Here are a few tips to help you build equity in your brand:

Define Your Brand And Create A Style Guide

If you don’t have a clearly defined brand and a brand style guide, there are no constraints on what you can and can’t do in terms of design, language, and messaging.

  • If you don’t define your brand typography, color palette, imagery style, patterns, and supporting design elements, it’s easy to get distracted by every cool typeface on free font sites and every color you like.
  • If you don’t define your brand voice — its vocabulary, language, sales and marketing messages, and communications tools — it’s easy to get distracted by what everyone else is saying and hard to know what to say and how to say it.

Both of these scenarios lead to inconsistency in design and inconsistency in language and message because there is no brand style guide to follow that keeps you on track and keeps everything your brand creates and does on-brand.

Skipping the “under-the-hood” work to do the sexy stuff like building a website or posting to social media is why so many freelancers and small business owners find some success but then plateau and struggle to grow their businesses.

As I was working on this post last night, my friend Chris Lema published his latest blog post: The Art of Lead Generation: What Top Business Owners Do Differently. When I read it, I laughed a bit because he made the case for consistency perfectly. You should read the entire post, but here’s my favorite part:

“Consistency is the critical component to finding success.

I write every day. Not because every single post will suddenly make you decide to hire me as a coach for your product business or agency. No. I write every day so that you learn my voice and understand my thinking. The more you read posts, the more we develop trust between each other.

But that’s not the only way trust is built. It’s how I build it. Others do it other ways.

Case studies, referrals, content, speaking on stage – there are so many options to choose from. But whatever you choose, you have to understand that one of the most important aspects of any lead generation strategy is the development of trust.

All things being equal, people like to buy from their friends. So first, make things as equal as you can. Then, make as many friends as you can.”

Did you catch that?

Consistency creates trust and trust is what leads to a full pipeline of ideal clients who understand your value and happily pay your full fee.

Use Your Style Guide And Communications Guide To Stay On Brand

Once you have established your visual brand style guide and brand voice communications guide, you need to use them. Don’t stick those PDFs in Dropbox or Google Drive, check the “done” box, and ignore them!

Embrace the constraints of your brand and learn to use them creatively.

They aren’t meant to hold you back or prevent you from having fun with design. Brand guidelines and constraints are there to help you stay focused, stay on brand, and stay consistent.

That means:

  • Sticking with your brand typefaces, colors, visual elements, and overall look and feel for everything from your business cards and website to your social media posts, email newsletter, and products.
  • Maintaining consistent brand messaging and language in all brand communications from your email signature, voicemail, and website copy, to your presentations, webinars, and social media posts.
  • Taking consistent action to show up and be seen. No one can hire you, buy from you, learn from you, or join your list if they don’t know you exist.

The more consistent you are and the more repetitive you are, the faster you’ll build trust with ideal clients.

And if you must change it up…

Skip The Redesign And Make Refinements

I am most often brought into a business when everything they already have in place is no longer working or no longer aligned with their big vision. My clients have established brands and websites that represent where they have been and not where they are going. Needless to say, I do a lot of brand redesigns and website redesigns.

The thing is, most people equate a redesign with starting over and creating something brand new, and in most cases, that’s not the best approach. A redesign tosses out everything tied to the brand equity that has already been earned.

If you have already become known, built a strong reputation in the market, and built equity in your brand, a better approach is to make refinements to your brand.

With this approach:

  1. Changes are made to specific elements of the brand while keeping everything else consistent. For example, if you change the typeface, the colors, patterns, and voice remain the same.
  2. Shifts are made in the messaging and language but the visual design remains the same.

Changing one thing at a time and giving each change a chance to stick, allows you to test changes and gather real-world feedback. It also gives you the ability to tackle a redesign in phases, which spreads out the investment and work and helps with cash flow.

Remember, several individual refinements and changes made over time can result in a full redesign without confusing your audience and tanking equity.

Track Your Brand Equity

Businesses that invest in brand equity have an advantage over their competitors that results in a preferential bias toward their services or products even if they cost more.

Qualtrics states that this phenomenon comes from clients and customers attaching their own ‘self-image’ to a brand’s messaging. When they choose to hire you or buy from you, they’re buying into your brand values and your message, which they identify with, and they’re doing so because they trust that you’ll deliver on your promises.

If you want to measure the equity growth of your brand, check out the post Why You Need to Measure Brand Equity and How to Do It by Neil Patel. The article covers three brand equity metrics to pay attention to (knowledge metrics, preference metrics, and financial metrics) along with examples.

Other things you can use to evaluate and track brand equity growth include:

  • Surveys and focus groups
  • Social media mentions
  • testimonials, and reviews
  • Results of special promotions and sales
  • Location traffic and website traffic
  • Direct brand search volume
  • Email list growth
  • Customer adoption of loyalty programs
  • Local media mentions
  • New customer acquisition
  • Returning customer data
  • Lifetime customer value

Get Bored, Gain Traction, And Grow Your Brand

Branding is critical to the long-term success and viability of any business. But, if that brand fails to gain traction and stick in the minds of your audience and ideal clients and remains a best-kept secret, it won’t hold much value.

If you are getting bored of your brand and marketing efforts, you’re gaining traction and doing it right. Give yourself a pat on the back, do your happy dance, and stick with it.

The reward for embracing brand guidelines and constraints, using them creatively, and maintaining consistency is becoming known, recognized, remembered, and referred. The reward for forming emotional connections with your audience, building trust with leads, and creating loyalty with clients is growing the value of your brand and building brand equity.

That is what leads to new opportunities, greater visibility, audience and revenue growth, and increased impact and influence and gives you the ability to charge premium fees and be more choosy about who you work with.