What is a brand?
A brand is the persona of your business. It’s a collection of memories and stories. It’s the flavor of your business and the feelings it elicits from a client. It includes personality, communication style, and even things like graphics and fonts that your business uses. A brand is a cohesive package that highlights what makes you stand out. And these are the very things that help a client decide whether or not they want to hire you. Branding will attract the people you are meant to work with and REPEL those who are not meant for you. And this is a good thing.
Hint: it’s not just a logo.
Anatomy of a Photography Brand
If you’ve never considered your photography business as having a brand, start with yourself and your own personality and build a brand around parts of you that you love and would want to include in your business. After all, as a human being, our business brands are an extension of us. And we know that clients want to connect with an actual person, and not a business with no face. So begin with yourself. What kind of person are you? What do you like and what makes you stand out as a human being? As you spunky or down to earth? Are you introverted or extroverted? Do you like to party or would you rather curl up with a good book and tea? Write down a few adjectives that describe you.
What about your actual photography style? You are the heart of your photography style. Many of us take years to figure out our photography style, and it’s much like “finding yourself”. If you are at this stage of the game, consider what your current style is and what your previous styles have been. What are you currently drawn to? Have you tried out different presets and figured out what you consistently like? If you haven’t found anything you absolutely love try completing a 2 weeks project where you just photograph things you love around you throughout the day. Then edit them by hand. Take care to identify the temperature of your colours, the feel of them and any special edits that speak to you. Try sticking with a couple different vibes for a month and see how it feels. Does it seem right to you at this time? Your style, just like you, can evolve over time so don’t feel like this is set in stone.
In building your brand, you will have to consider exactly what kind of photography you specialize in and who you are serving. It’s important to narrow down your niche because the photographer who is the jack-of-all-trades sends out confusing mixed messages to their clients. Clients want to know that you are offering EXACTLY what they are looking for. So don’t be afraid to spell it out clearly. If you’re afraid that you are going to eliminate potential clients by doing this, please know that it’s actually a good thing. Your brand SHOULD be so clear that it attracts all the right people and repels all the wrong people. You don’t want business from people who are not right for you.
Once you know what you specialize in, consider your ideal client. Who is your ideal client and where do they live? What do they do for work and what do they value about photography? Your brand needs to speak directly to your ideal client, so it’s critical that you identify who this person is. Ready to get super clear about your ideal client? Download our free guide here.
Now fill in the blanks: I’m a ______________photographer for _______________________. My area of expertise specifically is ________________.
When people think of branding, they usually think of logos, fonts and colours. And these things have their place in the flavor of your brand. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, do you want your brand to be spunky and fun, or more romantic and pastel-like? Do you want your customers to feel light, bright, happy and sunshine when they think of your business or do you want them to think of a dreamy love story and pretty pinks and bouquets?
Different colors, textures and fonts evoke different types of sensation. We are often drawn to ones that feel right for us and this is also why a brand is based on you at the core. Yellow is connected to happiness, green is connected to trust or money and red is connected to power. Look through some of these associations and determine what you want to be using.
your magic sauce
The essence of your brand is what makes your business unique. Consider what it is that only you do and that no one else can do quite like you. Your focus here should be related to the client experience. I want you to consider what part of the client experience you can package up as your magic sauce. Client experience refers to how your client moves through the timeline of their connection with your brand. Your magic sauce is in how you communicate to them, how you speak and act, how you make them feel and how you treat them. How do you wow them? How many times and in what kinds of ways are they saying “wow” to themselves during their experience with you? That’s your magic sauce.
Now think about other brands you know. Nike. Gucci. Your favourite restaurant. What is their magic sauce like? What does their branding do for you and how does it entice you to go back to them? What is their message? That’s the magic sauce we’re trying to get at here. These are the things that make you different.
Developing your brand
Here are some questions for you to consider as you get to the heart of the developing your photography brand:
-What is your photography style like? Describe it in a sentence. Go through your current portfolio and start there.
-What makes you unique? Identify 3 things.
-What is your target market? List them out.
-Who are you photographing? Identify them.
-Who is your ideal client? Describe them.
-What color is your brand if you could pick up to 3 colors? Find their hex codes.
-What flavor is your brand? What would it taste like? Blue bubblegum, kiwi, cherry cola?
-What feeling does your brand leave behind? It is excitement or a mysterious feeling of wanting more?
-What fonts reflect your brand? Identify three.
-What are some adjective that describe your brand? Perfection or Prestige? Write down 5 words.
-How do you wow your clients? Write down three ways.
Marketing your brand
Once you have a clear picture of your brand, it’s now important to be consistent in your marketing efforts and stand out by highlighting the unique aspects of your brand. If your brand is classic and timeless, don’t use emoticons and cute wording when writing your posts. That is not consistent with a timeless brand and evokes different kinds of sensations than what your brand is. You would confuse your dream client fast.
Start building your messaging and marketing content in a cohesive way, keeping in mind the anatomy of your photography brand. Although it is a task that takes some time, you will be rewarded for your efforts. Your branding will attract the right clients for you and your job will be to maintain your brand throughout your experiences with that client, giving them the best client experience as outlined in your brand strategy.