This is the first post we have done on the business side of photography and we are going to kick off with branding your photography business. As I was a Business Development Consultant for many years before I stopped work to start a family, I figured it was time to mix my knowledge of photography and business into one post - I'd love to know what you think!
In a nutshell, your brand is what differentiates you from other businesses. It should tell people who you are, what you do, and what they can expect from you. Branding includes your logo, your website, your packaging, your promotional materials and even your writing tone and personality. For a photography business, obviously your brand should also communicate your photography style.
Many people, when they think of branding, they think about getting a logo, some nice colors that go together, and maybe a catchy tagline. But actually branding is so much more than that! It's about creating a message that tells your customers how you operate, and what you are going to give them. That message should be consistent across everything - so if you have a very serious arty looking website, but your "about me" page is all about the fun you will have together, and how many lattes you have before lunch, there is a bit of a disconnect :)
So, coming up with a brand (whether you are just starting out of you want to rebrand) is not so much about choosing colors or fonts, it's more about defining what you want to say about your business. Before you do anything else regarding branding, ask yourself these questions:
- What is your goal for the business?
Do you want to be the high-cost, high quality option in your area, providing a "boutique" service? Or do you want to have a business that is affordable to more people? You can be anything you want, but bear in mind you can't be all things to all people :)
- How are you different from your competitors?
What makes you unique? Why are you different from the other photographers in your area?
- What do you want prospective clients to think about you or your business?
For example, you might want them to think that a session with you looks fun and you will capture their family "as-is" or you might want them to think of you as being a "fine-art" option, and so on.
- What is your photography style?
is it bright and bold or vintage? Soft and romantic? The style of your photography should have a big impact on your branding - if you mainly shoot seniors in colourful locations then you don't want your branding to look soft and sentimental (for example with swirly fonts and pastel colors)
Create a Mission Statement
Once you have done that, put it all together in a mission statement. A mission statement is basically your business defined in a paragraph or two. For example, my mission statement for this blog might go something like this:
"Here are Live Snap Love my aim is to help others discover and capture the true beauty that exists within their everyday lives. I provide photography tips, tutorials and inspiration to help you pick up your camera and document your family through a mix of portrait and lifestyle photography. I hope that my voice comes through in each and every blog post, and that you feel like you are learning from a friend over a coffee, not from a dry, boring textbook or manual"
Now, I made that up in under one minute whilst writing this blog post, so it would definitely need some fine tuning before it could go out as a mission statement, but in it I have said exactly what this blog aims to give you and why you might prefer this over another photography blog out there.
The idea is to sum up your business in a paragraph or two that answers the above questions. No-one necessarily needs to read it, you can keep it purely to yourself if you wish: In fact, write it for yourself first, without worrying too much about how it flows, but enough to get the message across, just like I have done here.
If you find that your brand message is too generic (in other words it could apply to other photographers in your area) keep working at it until you have said something about you or your business that is unique.
Create Your Brand Collateral
Once you have a brand "message" you can move onto creating items that deliver the brand message, such as your logo, your website, your email communications, your Facebook page cover, your packaging and so on.
The foundation of your brand is your logo, so that's the best place to start. Think about colors that best represent you and your photography style and which work well together, then move onto choosing fonts, which believe or not can also help define your message! These will make your logo and also be used in other areas such as your website. You should also consider your writing tone - is it serious, personable, fun? Make sure that when you write you are consistent with the brand you are trying to create. Of course, a photography business relies heavily on using images to show off their brand, so take a while to get images that truly reflect your style and personality. (Have a look at How to Create a Photography Portfolio for more tips)
Take a look at the screenshots of websites on this page - can you see how the colors, graphics, fonts and so on tell you about that photographer without reading a word? If you then delve into the sites, hopefully their text and style of writing will also back up what the visual is saying - and when you have everything working toward the same message, that's when you have a darn good brand :) If you aren't sure about the steps to create a website, you can see them in this recent post How to Create A Photography Website
Once you've got your brand decided, whatever you do make it consistent - use the same branding EVERYWHERE. Every single item that connects you to clients should become part of your brand - even what messages you post on Facebook for your status updates or images you post on Instagram should be considered as part of your brand message.
For each and every item, ask yourself:
Does this match my brand?
Does is communicate what I want to say?
Does it fit in with my mission statement?
I know it's tempting to skip over all of this and simply choose a logo you like on Etsy, but if you put in the ground work first, I promise it makes everything much easier, and more importantly, much better for your business. It will also save you a shed load of time and help make sure that your brand is consistent across everything.
If anyone is interested, I can put together another post about exactly how to do the fun stuff like choosing fonts and colors and creating your logo :)