Whether you’re looking for a constructive way to spend your free time or you’re trying to launch the next phase of your career, a side hustle is a great way to grow personally and professionally, get out of your comfort zone, and make a little (or, if you play your cards right, a lot) of extra cash.
But if you want to be successful with your side hustle, you can’t look at it as a hobby - you need to look at it as a business. And just like any other business, if you want to break through the clutter of competition, reach your ideal customer, and stand out from the crowd, you need to build a strong brand.
Branding your side hustle is a key step on the road to success. But how, exactly, do you do it?
Let’s take a look at how to brand your side hustle, connect with your ideal customers, and get the traction you need to turn your side hustle into your main gig:
What is branding?
Before we talk about how to brand your side hustle, let’s do a quick review of what branding actually is.
Your brand is more than just your name and logo. In a nutshell, your brand is who you are as a company and the way you’re perceived in the marketplace - or, in other words, the set of perceptions your customers have about you.
It’s crucial to be in control of the branding process and build your brand according to how you want to be perceived by your customers. If you don’t, they’ll come up with their own set of perceptions - and they might not align with your vision.
Now that we’ve covered the “what” of branding your side hustle, let’s talk about the “how.”
Get clear on who you are
The first step in branding your side hustle is getting clear on what you stand for.
The “you” in your brand will make you shine amongst the competition and really connect with your customers. And if you don’t know who that “you” is, your customers won’t either.
If you’re not quite sure who you are as a brand, it’s time to do a little detective work.
Why did I start this side hustle?
What are my company’s mission and values?
Who is the target customer?
What makes my business unique?
What’s the job to be done?
If I could describe my company in one sentence, what would it be?
The answers to these questions will give you some serious insight into who you are as a company, and you can use that company DNA to build your side hustle’s brand purpose.
Define your brand’s purpose
Once you’ve got some clarity on your brand’s DNA, it’s time to take that information, streamline it, and put it on paper. Using this new insight, you can start to put some thoughts around what purpose your company serves to the consumer.
All great companies - side hustles included - have a well-defined purpose. You want this purpose to be clear when people interact with your company. Take Patagonia. When you think of the iconic outdoor brand, you don’t just think of fleece. You think of scaling massive cliff faces, surfing huge waves, and scrambling between canyons. That’s because Patagonia has one of the most powerful brands in the business. Their clothing represents a lifestyle, and they back it up with a strong mission of sustainable manufacturing that helps protect the environment its customers loves so much. Now, we’re not saying your side hustle needs to be the next Patagonia, but defining your “North Star” will help guide you in many decisions along the way. More importantly, the more clear, cohesive, and consistent your brand is, the more you’ll connect with your ideal customers - and the better your side hustle will do.
Once you have a clear definition of your side hustle brand, you can use it for the next step: creating your brand collateral.
Design your brand
Design is one of the most important parts of branding your side hustle. Your logo is likely the first interaction your customers will have with your brand and will determine how they perceive your company.
Think of design as the face of your brand. And when you’re branding your side hustle, you want to put your best face forward.
A great design partner can help you translate your brand definition into design assets. For example, if your brand is fun and casual, your designer might use contemporary fonts or bright colors, whereas neutral colors and classic fonts may be better for a serious and professional tone.
To get your brand off the ground, you’ll need:
A brand color palette
A business card
Once you have those assets, you can start attracting your ideal customers - and turn your side hustle into an empire.
Use the right tools
If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry! There are plenty of tools out there to help you get started.
There are some A+ tools for getting intel from your target audience. Google Forms and Facebook Polls are both great ways to connect directly with your audience and find out what they’re looking for in your brand, and tools like BuzzSumo and Answer The Public can give you an inside look at what your audience is searching for and reading about - which you can use to help brand your side hustle in a way that will connect with them.
When it comes to the design aspect of your branding, unless your side hustle is design, you may want to consider hiring a professional. There are a lot of options at your fingertips depending on your needs and budget, but 99designs is a great place to find a designer to bring your branding to life. Get started with a custom logo design from 99designs to kick off branding for your side hustle.
As you have now learned, branding your side hustle is vital to your business identity and will make you stand out in a sea of entrepreneurs. And now that you know how to do it, it’s time to get out there and hustle!
– By Lindsey Vontz, Organic Marketing Manager at 99designs
Meet the author:
Lindsey works on Organic Marketing and PR at 99designs. Before joining 99designs, Lindsey spent 10 years managing brands big and small, and helped launch an outdoor apparel brand with her husband in 2013. Lindsey loves helping entrepreneurs find success through affordable branding and useful marketing content.