March 17, 2016 | | by

It goes without saying that building a brand is as important for Freelancers as it is for consumer products companies. The world of politics has recently supplied us with a great example of building a brand and the results of deviating from that brand. Like him or not, Marco Rubio spent the better part of 2015 and 2016 trying to portray an optimistic and positive story on where he could lead this country. His disposition was sunny and youthful, his views mostly positive and uplifting (without getting into the merits of him or his policy positions, I really want to restrict this to his brand). While this didn’t vault him into the Presidency, it did elevate a young, inexperienced Senator into the national discussion as a viable (for a time) Republican candidate.

Crash and burn

And then something happened. He and his advisors decided that hitting back at Donald Trump as hard as Donald Trump was hitting him was essential to his campaign. And all it did was turn Rubio’s brand upside down, and play into the Trump brand. You can’t out-Trump Trump. Again, like him or not, he is the master of the put-down and no matter what comes out of his mouth, it seems to have no effect. Because that’s his well established brand.

Unless you’re Superman popping into a phone booth and donning a cape for your transformation, you’re probably better off building your brand and living with your brand on a consistent basis. Radical departures from your carefully crafted brand will confuse your audience, undermine your credibility and leave you with no brand at all. And in Marco Rubio’s case – no voters at all (not even in his home state).

There’s a lesson here

For Freelancers, your challenge is the same. What are you really? What is your core value proposition and how do you convey those capabilities through the work that you deliver and the way that you describe yourself and your projects, and engage with your customers and colleagues? Is there a unifying theme in your work? The work itself needn’t be the same, but are you adept at helping to launch new products, repositioning, creating a unified visual identity for clients that have a hodgepodge of marketing materials? Distill your message and help your prospects understand why they should hire you. And don’t pull a Marco Rubio.