Big businesses do rebranding exercises; small businesses can too…
When I first started freelancing in December 2016, I described myself as just that: a freelancer.
But I soon learned that saying I was a freelancer was either not understandable, or made me sound like someone who “just worked from home”.
So I started saying I run a small business, or sometimes “I am a journalist”.
And when in November 2018 I made enough money in one month to cover all my expenses I thought: okay, now this is serious. This really is a business, and that’s not just something I say because that’s the general advice on all the entrepreneurial websites.
At about the same time, I was due to get new business cards printed. I looked at my existing cards and thought they looked a little tired. When I first started my business (see what I did there) I went on to Fiverr, found a designer, told him I wanted something minimalist and then used what he did for two years.
It was a good move not to invest too much money upfront when I was uncertain how things were going to pan out. But now, two years down the line, I wanted something that represented me and my business more elegantly.
A rebranding was in order.
I contacted a member of the Southern African Freelancers’s Association, of which I am a member. Tina Krynauw’s Pink Diamond Projects Safrea page says: “Contact me for promotions / launches, awareness campaigns, conferences, reputation management, social media marketing & management. I will help you bring out your best qualities, reflect them in your brand, and assist in representing your brand in all your marketing efforts.”
That sounded like what I needed – so I engaged Tina’s services.
The rebranding process
The process started with me playing on Pinterest and the Internet, simply finding any and all pictures that I liked. It ended with a brand board, encompassing my brand colours and fonts, my new logo and a set of social media banners.
In between those two points I worked with a graphic designer, a make-up artist and a photographer, refining and dicussing and sharing pictures and ideas. I also had a session with Tina looking at my business, and getting valuable advice about refining my offering and identifying my potential customers.
Once all that was in place, I asked former Independent Media colleague Meneesha Govender to revamp my website, incorporating all the elements arising out the rebranding process.
So here I am in March 2019, very happy to be showcasing my business in the way in which you now see it. The work was all absolutely worth the money I paid for it, and I am now proud to hand out my business cards.
But there is more to it that just the end result. I learned something from the process too.
It was enjoyable to be employing other people to do things just for me. Usually as a professional and in my personal life I am the one assisting and supporting other people. It was bolstering and refreshing to talk to Tina about my own muddled thoughts, and have my ideas refined.
If it was enjoyable, some of it also took me out of my comfort zone. The process of a professional shoot was interesting but anxiety-provoking. I have hated photographs of myself all my life, so to submit myself to make-up artist Minke du Plessis and the lens of Sandri Blom’s camera was worrying. But both women were expert at helping me to relax and just let things be.
I learned that I am good with words – but that the process of conveying meaning in images is something completely different. Nadine Park of Esperer Designs started with a questionnaire, sifted through lots of apparently unrelated Pinterest pictures and generally got a sense of what my business does – and came up with a logo that I am completely happy with.
Even though I could have revamped my own website, I knew it would inevitably take a back seat to all the other work on my plate. Handing it over to someone else got me good results, quickly (there are still some bits and pieces I need to fix, but on the whole my site is good to go).
In short, I learned that it really helps to ask experts for help. Running a small business does not mean you have to do everything yourself. It means taking your time, figuring out your direction and then spending money smartly to move yourself forward. Part of spending my money smartly also meant following my instincts and working with people that I felt I could trust.
And of course, it meant allowing someone to take photographs of me. Even though I hated that.
Main picture by Sapan Patel, Unsplash.