Woohoo! Branding is one of those things I have been focusing and learning a lot about lately with regards to my own business. There are always going to be parts of business and photography that we’re both good and bad at. I am BAD at branding, but I’m getting there with a little help.
You see, I know all about branding, I understand its psychology and how it works – it’s just that at some point with business it got too expensive to implement and fell down at the bottom of my to-do list instead of at the top. I wanted to invest in good equipment, the best lenses, marketing, etc. and branding came last. I thought it was not as important as all of those other things I was investing in, but I was so wrong!
I believe branding has two distinct parts. One is an emotional connection that fans and customers develop with your business and the other part is the visual side. I think with branding we quickly assume that our logo, color scheme and other visual aspects of our web presence is what defines our branding. We think it’s simple and easy to be visually consistent, but it’s so much more than just a logo or a color scheme.
It is those things and those things are important, but the have to go beyond Facebook, our website, Twitter, and other social media. Those consistent visuals are something your clients should come in contact with every time they interact with you! Adding logos images, color schemes to your thank you cards, your business materials, your marketing materials and anything a client could possibly come across will develop a sense of consistency. Consistency helps customers feel they can trust a brand.
Also if you need some good fonts I always recommend myfonts.com
Another part of that visual side is starting to take photos of the types of clients and situations that you most want to photograph. The whole notion of doing a ‘styled shoot’ seemed beyond me until recently. I just sat back and wondered why no clients were coming to me saying they wanted to be photographed in a vintage dress in a sunlit field with mason jars and lace everywhere. Hello? Clients don’t think like we do. I’ve been sitting around waiting for a client to come to me and say what they wanted, but I think an important part of branding is putting out there what you want to photograph. A styled shoot can be the absolute perfect opportunity. You may not be working for pay and you might have to purchase the props, gather models, and do more work than usual, but it’s all for a purpose – to take photographs that you want to take and put them out there for customers to see and think “hey I like that…” It will help you attract the types of customers you’ve always wanted to have.
Now, onto that emotional side of branding. I believe a good brand is one that people are passionate about – either with love or hate. Hate can still be a passion if someone dislikes something enough. Think of places like Apple or Canon and Nikon. People either love or hate Apple. Rarely do you find a person who is wishy-washy in between about the company. That’s part of a good brand. Apple is attracting the types of clients who are passionate about them and even those that don’t like Apple are still talking about the company. A brand has to be more than a visual – it has to be something that a client can connect to on an emotional level – especially to photographers since we’re a huge part of documenting the memories of their most important events.
For me my dogs have become a large part of my branding. Posting photos of them on social media and telling the funny stories about them (like that one time Lily ate $200 and I made her throw it up and took the scraps to the bank to cash them in) is something that people can connect to. Simply sharing those things and my dogs have made me put it out there…I’m a dog person. What’s interesting is that most of my clients are too. And they’re not just dog people, they’re like me. They tend to have more than 1 dog, they consider the dog as part of the family – they think their dog is more than just a dog.
Humor has also been a great way for me to connect with my clients, being my usual funky self, talking about my oddities, and telling stories is what makes me unique and helps me stand out from others. Clients have used phrases like – ‘we feel like you’re a real person and not just a photographer’ and I am a real person. I want my clients to connect to me on a very real level and not feel as though they are just a paycheck in my eyes.
Finally, the Photography Awesomesauce members and I were having a conversation the other day about writing unique website bios. We were talking about how almost every photographer’s bio says stuff like ‘I got my first camera when I was 3 and I haven’t put it down since….etc’ Take the opportunity to look at your bio in a new light and find a way to make it stand out and connect with your clients! The first place I make an emotional connection from my brand to my clients is my bio. The funny, quirky, weird side of myself is out on display for all to see. And yes, I did have a camera at a young age and loved to take photos, but didn’t we all?