In 2012, my client base transitioned from small businesses to service-based women entrepreneurs. Our work together usually involved the creation of a personal brand, and as I moved in those communities and took some of the same classes, I adjusted my own brand in a similar way. I thought this is what you were supposed to do.

It took a couple iterations of Christine Marie Studio (and a few years of not attracting the right clients) to realize that my design brand should not be about me. Why? Because my work was not about me, it was about what I could do for my clients.

Want to attract your best clients? Build a design brand that features you as the solution, rather than you as the brand.

You’re probably thinking that those two things sound a lot alike. You’re right, they do… but there are some pretty big differences that I’ve seen designers miss. I want to highlight them, because these differences may be keeping you from your best clients.

Successful solution-centered design brands focus on showcasing their ability to convey someone else’s vision. The design of a solution-centered website is created with intention. Rather than competing for a potential client’s attention, the design elements act as a simple, understated foundation that highlights the work itself.

Successful solution-centered design brands showcase the breadth of the work rather than passively leaving the narrative up to the user’s interpretation. Using portfolios that are complete and concise, they move beyond a single image to showcase the full project and their role in it. The work is intentionally chosen to appeal to a specific kind of client.

Successful solution-centered design brands carefully curate professional photography and content to tell a cohesive story. In order to draw clients who value beautifully effective design, these designers realize they must “walk their own talk” and therefore intentionally invest in high-quality elements for their own brands.

As a mentor, I see designers so close and yet so far from their best clients. Perhaps – just like I used to – they think that because everyone else has a YOU brand, that they need one too. So their site focuses on all the wrong things. Or perhaps they are too busy working with the wrong clients to notice what their portfolio is really saying about them… so they keep attracting the wrong clients.

How do you make the shift from YOU brand to solution-centered brand? Start with this single question…

What about you makes you the perfect solution for your ideal potential client? …the one looking at your website right now.

Everything on your website needs to answer this question – from how you talk about yourself, to how you display your portfolio, to the services you provide. Seriously consider dropping anything that doesn’t help answer this question.

Use your website to showcase your ability to listen to your potential client’s needs and reply with a thoughtful solution. Stop competing with your client for the role of website “hero”. Help your client envision themselves as the main character in this story of working together… and you play the guide (who has a solution).

Don’t distract them with the hardship story that brought you to this place, your favorite ice cream or your accounting career from 2 years ago. Don’t interrupt them with 16 different glamor photos of yourself. Rather than displaying what YOU love, show them a design THEY love.

Can they tell from your services that you specialize in membership sites, that you work with charities, or that you only do branding? Does your portfolio tell the story of the clients that went before them – and found success? Does your site focus on the strategic thinking and experience that makes you the perfect fit?

If you aren’t currently attracting your best clients – ask yourself – is your website about you as a solution or is it just about you?

Want to attract your best design clients? As a designer, build a brand that features you as the solution, rather than you as the brand. Sound like the same thing? It's not quite... keep reading.

Author: Christine Thatcher

Christine Thatcher is the founder of Christine Marie Studio, a boutique design agency dedicated to helping visionary entrepreneurs infuse their personalities into profitable virtual platforms. She combines 27 years of design experience to guide her clients through the web design process. Also the creator of Designing to Delight, a brand dedicated to teaching designers how to build collaborative client relationships so they can charge more for their work.