The graphic designer's guide to personal branding

Rangan Das

December 15, 2022

A part of your personality goes into your designs and it's essential that you highlight this in your profile. Check out our guide to personal branding to see how you can make your work shine true.

silver imac on brown wooden table
Photo by Faizur Rehman on Unsplash

There are countless talented graphic designers out there. All of them are vying for your clients alongside you. You need to offer prospective customers a reason to choose you over rivals if you want to stand out in this cutthroat market. This is where a designer’s branding comes into play. 

You can promote your personality and skill set by using personal branding.

However, if you want to develop an influential personal brand, you will need a solid plan in place. This guide will give you a framework for becoming a self-branding designer. 

Before we begin, let’s gloss over some fundamentals. 

Why do graphic designers need personal branding?

Personal branding is a strategy for managing how people perceive you and your work. Creating a self-image that appeals to your target audience is the goal of personal branding. Here is why you need to have personal branding. 

#1. It builds trust

A key advantage of personal branding is making people feel like they know you even before you meet. You have the power to make a good or bad impression. People will feel that they can trust your judgment if you establish a strong personal brand, and you may be able to benefit their company. Additionally, personal branding reinforces itself. Once you have established strong branding, your business will only grow, further creating a positive outlook for your branding. 

#2. It helps gain recognition

People are more likely to hire you because of your brand. It is the outcome of a sustained and intentional effort to influence people to identify you with your niche. You must try to influence people to associate that as a graphic designer.

#3. It connects you with the right clients

Your ideal client will find you if you have the right personal branding. With personal branding, you assume a leadership role. You need to establish effective channels of communication with your audiences so that you can hear from them.

Let's use Starbucks as an example. People don't choose to pay $5 for a coffee at Starbucks when they can get it elsewhere for much less money because they want to spend more money. They simply identify with what Starbucks stands for—inclusion, diversity, and a culture that prioritizes the needs of its customers. Starbucks developed a strong relationship with its clients. This strategy can help you establish such strong relationships. 

#4. It allows you to charge a premium

Your branding sets you apart. Additionally, it enables you to charge more for your service. With your branding, you can say why you are unique and what people will get from you that they will not from anywhere else. 

For instance, a typical smartphone costs a few hundred dollars less than an iPhone. But when a new one is released, people line up. This is because of marketing and branding. Consumers value excellence and place a premium on reliability. We pay for the complete experience, not just the product itself. 

Therefore, you can charge more for your services when you have a strong personal brand as a graphic designer. Because they are familiar with your brand, they will be more likely to pay for that service.

#5. It allows you to showcase your personality

Through personal branding, you may control how others perceive you. Your brand should be an accurate reflection of your personality. As a graphic designer, you can express your personality in a variety of ways. You should concentrate on showcasing your distinctive qualities when developing your brand. Your website should have consistent language and images that showcase your distinctive personal brand. Once you've decided what you want to stand for, you need to convey that message to your audience consistently.

7 steps to build your brand

man writing on paper in front of DSLR
Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Here are the seven stages to take when putting a personal branding design plan into practice. If you want to improve the image of your brand, these suggestions will help you whether you're working alone or with a studio. 

Let's get going.

Step #1: SWOT Analysis

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Before you start with personal branding, you need to ask the right questions. You need to have a clear focus on how you want other people to see you develop a consistent and true personal brand. It's a series of little alterations in the visual, written and verbal domains that together help people perceive you more clearly in a variety of contexts.

At its core, personal branding is an exercise in highlighting your true strengths, not just making ones that you don't possess. It's not about trying to forge a new identity for yourself.

Start by asking yourself certain questions objectively. What am I offering to my clients that no one else is? What is it that I do well? What is my unique style? What are my strengths?

Building relationships with an audience is made simpler by having the answers to these questions and developing tactics to communicate them.

Step #2: Highlight your strengths

When you understand your strengths and weaknesses, you need to showcase the former when dealing with clients. This will also influence how you build your website, how you will organize your social media accounts, or how you will advertise yourself. 

Maybe you are great with designing logos, and graphic designer for brands, or maybe you love working on UI/UX for apps. You may be skilled in creative coding, but you also love to design product packaging. You should not only showcase these quirks, but you need to showcase how you are passionate about them. Your enthusiasm will communicate more value than your portfolio. 

In some areas, you can fake aptitude, but not enthusiasm. Work on magnifying your actual passions as these are what will attract the right clients to you. Your true, unrivaled specialty will be located somewhere between your expertise, life experience, and enthusiasm.

Step #3. Know your audience and competition

You need to know who you're speaking to when it comes to graphic design. While it's crucial to follow your path, you also need to consider your audience. If you've nailed your target market, your audience should be those who are curious about what makes you, you.

Create a profile of your typical audience member to get started. This is what is known as the “buyer persona”. Include information about their characteristics, likes, dislikes, and other brands they tend to support. If it helps, give them a name and a face to complete your picture of them as completely as you can.

Don't forget to look at your competitors as you build this profile. What other brands from the same market does your target market frequently associate with? Find other designers who share your strengths and your sense of style. Carefully observe what they're doing to draw clients. This will help enrich your graphic designer branding.

Step #4: Set the tone

To retain that crucial consistency, you must understand what phrases uniquely identify your brand because branding extends far beyond the outward appearance. 

While graphic design is visual, you will still be communicating with your clients and your audience in words. How do you want to do that? Do you want to have a friendly and warm tone? Or do you want to have a professional tone?

Whatever tone you select should be consistently used across your tweets, emails, or Instagram updates. Check over the syntax and tone of other companies you admire to see what might work for you. Swap and modify parts until you get the tone that is perfect for your brand and that truly represents you.

Step #5: Create the branding elements

This is where you get to play to your strengths. Find the color palette, imagery, and typography that suits you, and that speaks to who you are. Then make a visual representation of your brand. 

Whether it's your portfolio, website, or simplified LinkedIn page, the visual representation of your personal brand can include your branding elements consistently. These branding elements will evoke particular emotions, and influence how other people see you. 

Step #6: Build a portfolio

The types of marketing content you'll produce to advertise yourself should now be clear to you. Fantastic if you already have a portfolio! If you don't already have one, start making one now. When establishing your portfolio, keep in mind who you are. For example, if you have worked as a branding designer, showcase that. 

Go back to the objectives and detailed plans you established. For example, if your ambition was to become well-known as a graphic designer with a focus on print and photography in a year, you would need to have a plan for how many clients you would choose to do that. 

You should choose clients who are interested in that kind of output because your portfolio should be built around your intended personal brand. 

Step #7: Create physical deliverables

Even though there are so many things available online these days, the print was the original digital media. You may network online all you want, but sometimes making a physical connection is just as vital as making a digital one. Examples include delivering someone a real business card, writing them a letter on your custom stationery, or having them physically browse a portfolio of your work.

These tangible deliverables can include something as simple as business cards, letterheads, and invoices, but depending on your demands, you could also include compliment slips, envelope designs, and packaging. Consider your brand, make a list of its requirements, and go from there.

Over to you

For graphic artists who want clients to come pouring in, personal branding is essential. The good news is that developing a personal brand is not difficult. Use these tips to create a concrete plan but be flexible when needed. 

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