Defining your brand begins with that question. How would you answer it? Maybe you’d say “Well, I do eDesign, so anyone who speaks English, or lives in a predominantly English-speaking country…” or maybe something like “I serve the Denver area, so anyone who’s looking for design services in Denver…”
Now it can be tempting to answer broadly because you don’t want to miss out on a potential opportunity, or leave people out, but you’re ultimately doing yourself a disservice. Just because you don’t go after a certain group doesn’t mean you can’t work with them if the opportunity presents itself, and by speaking to a specific group of people, you’ll ultimately be more successful at attracting the right clients.
Being all things to all people takes a lot of time and energy. If you’re a solopreneur, or, you have a small team, your time is limited – and it’s better to weed out the type of client you don’t want to, or can’t work with early on, rather than drawing it out, and sinking a lot of time and energy (and maybe even money!) into working with the wrong kind of clients for you.
Let’s say you’d like to run some Facebook or Instagram ads. If you choose all of the USA as your target audience area, your ads can be just as likely to be seen by someone living in a small rural town as they are to someone living in the suburbs, or in a tiny apartment in the big city. Would you really be equally willing to and comfortable with each type of client? Would you be doing the kind of work you really want to be doing?
Lastly, people don’t want to hire a designer that claims to be able to cater to every type of style. When you buy a wedding dress, you don’t go to a store that specializes in “dresses for any occasion”, you go to a store that specializes in bridal wear! Buyers want a focused professional when they’re dealing with these important investments, not someone who’s all over the place. As cliché as it sounds, you are the only you and you have something unique to offer, so have the courage to offer it, and be your unique self!
This may sound daunting and maybe a little scary, but honestly, everything you do. Your company name, your logo, the way you speak on social media and on your website or blog, which social media channels you use, the prices you charge, your values. All this and more play a part of your brand, and give potential clients an impression of you. Not sure what kind of vibe your business is giving off? Ask an objective outsider, or some industry peers in a Facebook group or other industry group. Second opinions can go a long way!
To figure out who you want to target, and therefore how to define your brand, think about your favorite project you ever worked on. And if you’re new to the industry, think about a project that you’ve seen and really admired, a project that you aspire to do yourself.
Why is it your favorite? What about the project filled your cup? Was it the budget you were working with? Was it a certain style, or room? Certain materials and fixtures you got to work with?
Once you have that, let’s attach that project to a person, and define the ideal client that goes along with that ideal project. Start thinking about specific demographics, like what life stage is this person in? (newlyweds, new parents, grandparents, or retirees, etc.) What are their interests? How much are they willing to spend? Aside from the usual demographics of age, gender, where they live, etc. there are bunch of these little definitions that will help flesh this dream client out, and, how to speak to them.
Once you have a feel for the kind of client you want, and the projects that go along with them. Take a look at your website, social media pages, portfolio, etc. What would speak to these people? What are they looking for? If a potential client is looking at several designers, how are you going to stand out and make them want to work with you? These are some good questions to ask as you develop all these assets. What’s most important is really getting into the shoes of the kind of client you want to attract, and thinking about their motivations, aspirations, and pain points.
Now, this is just a start, and sometimes building a brand can be a bit of a journey, but by taking a critical look at yourself, and your client, you’ll be well on your way to defining a strong interior design business brand. At the end of the day, it’s about curating a specific look, voice, and feeling that speaks to your target market, and, instills trust in them that if they make this investment into their space, they’re not going to be disappointed.