What is a "brand"?
Well, let's start with a definition:
Branding is the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the mind of the consumer, mainly through advertising with a consistent theme. Branding establishes a significant and unique presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers. (businessdictionary.com)
3 Reasons why you need a Brand:
1. Branding delivers your message clearly. It's a great way to communicate with your potential clients. It presents your business to the market and tells the world what it is that you do. It allows you to convey your niche and style. All of this without speaking a word! (Introverts rejoice!)
Using my logo as an example:
The cutesie camera lets customers know that I work with babies and children. Hopefully when they see it attached to my work, on my business cards, website, and Facebook page, they will remember me by that cutesie camera.
Sometimes I meet people who don't have babies, but they know someone who does. If they are convinced by my branding that their friend will like my style, they WILL tell their friend about me.
2. Branding creates a connection between you and your clients. Think about the brands you love. You tell your friends, you put stickers on your car, and you wear their logos on your clothes. That's how you want people to feel about YOUR business. You want them to come back so make it easy for them to remember you. I have a photographer friend who photographs high school seniors. Because of his distinct modern style it is easy to identify his work. Because the vinyl logo he gives all of his senior clients is very modern and cool, they put it on their cars. And because his very cool modern logo ends up on all those cars, he is the most popular senior photographer in the region because so many seniors are looking for modern and cool. Having his logo on a car has become a bit of a status symbol in our area. It is one of the most successful examples of branding I have ever seen!
3. Branding sets you apart from the competition. How many photographers are in your local market? About 400 million? Okay, maybe that number is a bit high, but that's what it feels like sometimes. Use your brand to stand out from the crowd. You can also use your brand to target the clients you really want. There are a lot of wedding photographers out there, and just as many different styles. If your talent and passion tends towards the vintage, you are looking for a vintage bride. Your brand should shout VINTAGE!
3 Questions to ask before branding your business:
1. What is your niche? This goes back to the previous post on determining your passion. Decide what you want to do and become the best at that thing. For me it's newborns. For some it's vintage weddings. For others it is fine art photography. Take some time if you need to. You want your brand to be enduring and consistent so wait until you know what your niche is before diving in to the branding pool.
2. What is your style? This is not the same as your niche. Your style makes you unique and sets you apart from others who share your niche. Some newborn photographers use studio lighting and elaborate sets. I photograph newborns using natural light and very few props. My branding is also simple. I have made sure that potential clients know what their experience will be with me, and I make sure that every client has the same experience.
3. What is your business personality? Innovative, sophisticated, energetic, creative? I work with brand new little people. They need extra gentle care. They need warmth and quiet. New moms are typically a nervous bunch and need to know that you will treat their baby as carefully as they do. I spend a lot of session time snuggling baby and talking soothingly to mom. I want every client's experience to be comforting. This is my business personality. My branding reflects comfort and love and warmth through the colors and shapes and photographs that I present in my marketing materials and portfolio. Make sure your branding fits your personality and that of your business.
Don't let the idea of creating a brand overwhelm you. There is no need to rush into it. Get some basic business cards and get out there. Start paying attention to your strengths and build on them. Ask your clients why they chose you over another photographer. And remember this:
It takes more than great photographs to get the attention of your potential clients. It takes a memorable brand. Your brand is not just a logo or a business card. It is the experience you give your clients and expresses the value you provide. Let the world know who you are, what you do, and how amazing you are!
Got kids? Tips for balancing business ownership and family life.
(My girls will be contributing as well so it should be fun!)
Find her at 1000 Words Photography