Building a solid brand is a key part of running a successful photography business, but it’s not easy work. It takes time to develop your photography style and your voice. And then it takes considerable effort to craft those into a brand that helps you stand out in a sea of other photographers. There’s often a large amount of trial and error involved because sometimes you do things without even knowing that hurt your brand. But don’t worry… we’re here to help! Here are ten ways you’re killing your brand and how to fix them.
1. Your portfolio looks like everyone else’s.
Editing with film filters is trendy right now and everybody is doing it. We love a good film filter ourselves, but if you notice that your go-to poses and editing style are indistinguishable from every other photographer in a 50 mile radius, your brand is suffering. We know it takes hard and dedication work to carve out a photography style all your own… so make sure that ‘your’ brand is unique.
2. Your website has more typos and grammatical errors than your first grader’s book report.
Cultivating a good brand means being professional in every single facet of your business. Pay serious attention to detail since your website (and blog) are the online face of your business. Always double check your spelling and grammar. Bonus points if you let your voice shine through in your content. Often times, a strong voice supports a strong brand.
3. You offer too many promos/mini sessions/sales.
Discounting your products and services can be a good way to boost sales short term. But if you’re offering fire sales every month or giving away free ‘model’ sessions all the time, you’re devaluing your brand. We bet you can name a craft store that sends out a 50% off coupon every single week. They’ve got us all trained to never pay full price and to only shop when we have a coupon. When you offer promos constantly, you jeopardize your ability to ever get full price work in the future. Training your clients to wait for your next “special” event is bad news for the brand you’ve been working so hard to build.
4. You don’t respond to inquiries in a timely manner.
So much of what you do in your photography business is customer service and building client relationships. When you take six days to respond to a new inquiry because you hate returning phone calls, you’ve already lost your client’s trust… and maybe the job too. Respond to all new inquiries (and other emails and phone calls) as soon as possible within your posted business hours. And read our thoughts on texting clients here.
5. You badmouth other clients or local vendors.
This should be common sense, but it happens in our industry so often that we decided to include it anyway. Remember when your mama used to tell you “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Well, she was right. Talking bad about others, even if you feel justified in doing so, is not good business and it will reflect poorly on you and your brand.
6. You answer the phone when you’re distracted.
We know that ‘business owner’ isn’t your only job. You’re probably also chef, chauffeur, homework helper, cookie baker, errand runner, parent, the list goes on and on. Each of your roles deserve to have your full attention at the proper times. Returning client phone calls while cooking dinner with the kids yelling in the background is never a good idea. Your clients deserve your full attention when you are talking to them, so make your phone calls during business hours when you can talk distraction free.
7. You dress inappropriately.
If you’ve ever shot a wedding wearing flip flops or a tee shirt and khakis, you know what we’re talking about. You are an extension of your brand and to represent your brand well, you need to dress for success. Often times, that means knowing the dress code ahead of time and dressing accordingly. You can still be polished, and comfortable, at a kids’ or family session and when delivering orders to clients. There are so many opportunities in business (and in life!) when standing out is a good thing, but we promise this isn’t one of them.
8. Your packaging is lacking.
We believe that printed images should be treasured. But if you’re shipping out prints and albums thrown haphazardly into repurposed bubble wrap and recycled boxes, you’re sending the wrong signals to your clients. We’re not saying you need to spend lots of time and money to put together over-the-top packaging, but branded experience and a handwritten note goes a long way. Delighted clients are great for your brand.
9. You sell poor quality products.
If your client’s album is falling apart at the seams after two years or the colors are off on their canvases because you used a discount vendor, you’re setting yourself up for unhappy clients and you’re completely devaluing your brand. Make sure you only offer high quality prints and albums that match the quality of your photography.
10. Your marketing materials lack a cohesive style.
So much of creating a strong brand is about attention to detail. Clients might not always notice exactly what’s off, but be mindful that that your marketing materials, your website, and your contract all reflects your unique brand message. Details are important so make sure you get them right. Our Studio Success Guide: Branding & Style will help you craft an authentic, consistent brand presence in no time at all.
Building a brand is hard work, but the good news is the above list can help you make huge progress every single day. And even if you realized you’re guilty of killing your brand, knowing is half the battle. Every habit and practice listed in this article can be fixed quickly and easily. Make your plans now and you’ll be well on your way to crafting a strong brand in 2017 and beyond!