If you’re a photographer building a brand, you’re super lucky to have gobs of fabulous business information right at your fingertips. A quick Google search reveals countless cheat sheets, infographics, and check lists for assessing and assembling your brand. But all that info-binging can leave you feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. You’re already juggling accounting, marketing, customer service, and of course the actual photography, and now you’ve got to think about your brand? What does that even mean?
Well friend, I’m here to tell you: it’s not as scary as it seems. Simply put, branding is intentionally crafting the image of your business in the minds and hearts of your customers. Branding may be a major buzzword, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. So today I’m breaking down a few of the branding myths I hear the most, and giving you 3 actionable steps you can take today to ensure your brand connects effectively with your ideal clients.
Myth #1: I should wait until my business is established before I think about branding.
Truth: It’s never too early to start defining your brand!
Notice I said, “start defining” not “spend tons of cash hiring a brand designer.” That’s right, you just heard a brand designer say that you don’t need a fancy professionally-designed logo to get started. But what you do need is brand awareness. If you’re in the beginning phases of creating your business, now’s the time to explore. Shoot all the things and experiment with your approach. Over time you’ll find that a photographic style emerges, and you’ll begin to notice common threads between your favorite clients. Those common threads? They’ll help you define your target market. Once you know who you’re working for, you can begin to craft a brand that speaks your ideal client’s language.
If you’re just starting out, don’t waste your time and money working with a designer on a snazzy logo or a fancy custom website. Instead, use that energy to explore your craft and make note of who and what truly ignites a fire in your heart.
Take stock of your current portfolio. Are all the images you’ve chosen speaking the same visual language? If not, maybe it’s time to edit down your portfolio selections. Take some time to think about the commonalities between your favorite images and clients, and write down your findings. What made those people book you? If you don’t know, find out! As a designer, surveying past customers is a built-into my design process, and the info you receive from those is invaluable! Brainstorm some ways you can better speak your ideal customer’s language, and implement them today!
Created by ANGIE WEBB
Myth: My brand should be a reflection of my personal style.
Truth: While it may be true that you play an integral role in your brand, at the end of the day your brand should be all about your customer.
Before I started my design business, I spent 10 years in the wedding photography industry. During that time I realized my ideal clients were hyper-intellectual grad school students who were super in love, but had little time or interest in planning a wedding. To be honest, on a personal level, I really didn’t have much in common with these ideal clients. If I had built a brand around myself, it probably wouldn’t have resonated very much with my target market. Instead, I learned as much as I could about these people.
- They valued authenticity and fun.
- They weren’t into formalities and fluff.
So I branded myself using a poppy, fun palette, and chose highly journalistic images that I knew would resonate emotionally. It worked! I found myself shooting more and more of the kinds of weddings and people that I loved.
When your customers book you, it requires a ton of trust on their part. They’re trusting you with their time, their money, and their memories. Sure, your portfolio will catch your next client’s eye, but your brand will help potential customers trust you enough to send that first email or schedule a consultation. So before you build a brand around you, make sure that aesthetic direction will appeal to your target market as well. Speak your target market’s language in a way that is eye catching, appealing, and professional, and they will feel so deeply connected to you and your work they won’t want to book anyone else.
Remember that target market you defined earlier? It’s time to dive deeper. What styles and visual aesthetics would they find appealing? A quick and easy trick for figuring this out is looking at the wardrobe choices of some of your favorite clients. Whether it’s the cozy flannel and worn-in jeans they donned for their engagement session, or the victorian-styled gown and opulent crystal jewelry they wore on their wedding day, these garments can clue you in on what resonates visually with your ideal clients and help provide visual direction for your brand.
Myth: I need a trendy logo to have a successful brand.
Truth: Your brand is built upon so much more than your logo. The most effective brands are trend-proof!
In the mid 2000’s, monogram-based logos were all the rage. I can recall desperately trying to mash together initials that didn’t fit at my clients’ requests. Then it was watercolor. Then gold foil. Then calligraphy. Crafting a brand around what’s popular today will result in a constant to keep up with the next big thing. A frequently altered visual brand is confusing for your audience. They’ll never really know what to expect from you, and that will make you less memorable. Instead, go back to what we talked about with Myth #2. What does your customer love? If you build a brand around classic aesthetics rooted in what you know will draw in your target market, you’ll find yourself with a trend-proof brand that will serve you well for a long long time.
Every interaction your client has with your business is an opportunity for you to provide them a great brand experience. Instead of worrying about your logo, take some time today to check on all the small things that make up your customer’s journey. Does your voicemail message align with the way you want customers to feel when they interact with your business? Does the copy on your website or the words you use in your social media posts align with your values? Is anything broken or missing on your website that might hinder visitors from contacting you? Small fixes can greatly elevate your customer experience.
Branding can certainly be a complex beast. But if you take away one thing from this post, I hope it’s this: branding is all about your customer.
- Create a client-focused brand and customers will know you understand them.
- Keep everything polished and professional so they feel as though they can trust you.
- Offer bits and pieces of your personality along the way so that they fall in love with you.
If you can do these things you’ll find yourself connecting with your tribe more seamlessly than ever!
Contributor ANGIE WEBB is an Atlanta-based web-designer and brand strategist with a BFA in Graphic Design from The University of Georgia. She is the founder and principal designer for Angie Webb Creative and a founding partner of Clarify My Brand, a one-day branding intensive for start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Header photo by CHARLIE DEETS
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