According to Wikipedia, a brand is the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”
It follows from this definition that freelancers are their own brand. The way they act in social situations, respond to email, their physical appearance and their LinkedIn profile picture clearly are features that identify them from their competitors.
This is why I’m always astounded that people who would never dream of going to a business meeting improperly dressed have terrible LinkedIn or website profile pictures. On the one hand they do understand that they are their own brand, yet they don’t seem to grasp that the pictures of themselves they show to the online world are just as important, in terms of the impression they make on people, as their physical appearance at a business networking event.
As an example of branding, a few weeks back, I had the chance of taking some business photographs for my accountant, Mark McLeod of Scotia Accounting. Mark is personable, professional, and he is not your stereotypical accountant. He is also interested in attracting start-ups and high-tech businesses as clients. I was looking to create some photographs that would reflect that.
The business portrait is not something you want to get to too creative about. There is some kind of expected standard so I gave Mark a traditional picture against a white background.
Now since the clients he wants to attract are the young and up-coming entrepreneurs, I thought we could go for some edgier photographs that could appeal to that audience and clearly differentiate Mark from his competition. This is what we came up with: