It’s the first impression potential clients have of your business, so you already know branding can either elevate a studio to epic success or leave it behind in a pit of comic sans despair. Add harried schedules and a wild workflow into the mix, and it’s easy to rush, headfirst, into a style outgrown in a year or two or a brand that doesn’t attract your desired type of client (the kind who don’t like magenta fonts or clip art).
So in this busy fray, how are you managing to achieve brand bodaciousness? It’s simple.
“A brand is a shortcut for all of the expectations for what you’re about to do for the customer. It’s a shortcut for trust, promises and conversations. If you wish to have an actual brand, don’t go to a fancy logo designer. Think about how you are acting in the world. Because the way we act, the choices we make about the emotions and change that is what creates a brand.” - Seth Godin
This one time…at brand camp… You’re looking for branding idea inspirations from outside the photography realm. You consider favorite websites and why you like them, whether you’re vibing on Anthropologie, Kinfolk Magazine, Four Seasons or Free People. Writing down these questions helps: What are my favorite colors to wear? How do I decorate my home?
Brand the test of time. You’re revisiting ideas several times before committing, because it takes time to build a solid, recognizable brand. To visualize your forming vision, you make a list of words you want others to use to describe your business and include photos, drawings and colors. You close your journal and come back every two weeks with fresh eyes to consider how you feel about the images and designs.
Brandstorm. Tools like Pinterest compile color palettes, textures and styles that speak to you. Not content to simply save photos of photography related elements, you collect pictures of a pretty sweater, or a piece of art, or a color combination in a photograph. You consider what you like about each image, and how it applies to your desired client. Who are they? Where do they shop? How do they dress?
And the brand played on. You’re asking the tough questions: What represents my business? What represents me? Do I have a unique business name I can incorporate into the images on a logo? Will these ideas represent me a year from now? You even go the extra step to include images in your website design for an authentic branding experience.
Ain’t life brand. Settling for less? You don’t. Your clients don’t either, so it goes without saying a homemade or $5 logo found on Etsy isn’t going to solve a branding need. It's important to invest money to present a professional, high-end and high-quality face, and how great your work is will pale lamentably when a branded logo looks like it's from a Huey Lewis 1985 album liner.
No one night brand. You’re not choosing a brand you’ll grow out of. While photographing newborns today might be what puts the skip in your step, you didn’t pigeon hole yourself with a name like Baby Butt Dimple Photography. Instead, you chose a brand and a name that grows with you and with your business, wherever this journey takes you.
A brand gesture. Enveloping all of your business outlets, your brand includes (but isn’t limited to) your website, blog, social media, logo, packaging and marketing materials. It’s important that logo, fonts, colors and materials are similar, because having a cohesive brand boosts professionalism and helps potential clients instantly recognize you. The best way to stay consistent on all fronts is to stay simple.
Brand and deliver. Your brand goes beyond the concrete logo and color palette to customer service and client interaction. Kindness, positivity and helpfulness--especially online--present a sophisticated level of service for discerning clients. Since the entire customer experience is an extension of branding, answering the cell phone means no screaming kids (or barking dogs) in the background whenever possible.
Brand out from the crowd. Since it’s hard to stand out in a market flooded with photographers, you give your brand that extra something others just don't see every day. You’re contemplating exotic colors, a fun logo or something new to create a brand that pops. Being too trendy or emulating the competition isn’t for you; you know the point is to stand out in a good way, but not to fit in.
The brand scheme of things. You don't feel like you need to keep a logo or color palette for years, especially when it’s no longer authentic to you. As styles experiences and tastes evolve, it's okay to give yourself a brand overhaul every 3-5 years. Ever-evolving business means keeping your eye toward inspiration for an experience your evolving clients appreciate, too. Basically, you’re winning.
“Always remember: a brand is the most valuable piece of real estate in the world; a corner of someone's mind.” ~John Hegarty
~By Design Aglow contributor, Jamie VanEaton