Last modified: February 7, 2017
Do you think branding is just an overwhelming mingle of memorable logos, witty tag lines, dashing fonts or punchy color palettes?
Pause for a minute and think about your favorite brand. What is it that you love about it? I bet it’s none of these things…
Savvy marketers think and project branding as a special connection and a genuine experience.
Your photography branding should, therefore, be all about the feelings you instill your clients. From the first encounter with your work, to that special moment when they are looking, mesmerized, at a gorgeous album or prints of their photographs – your work wrapped around their special moments.
A well-thought brand that portrays your style will make the right clients tick and connect with you and your business instantly. It’s the only thing, aside from hard work and dedication, that will help you gain a foothold in your market.
Don’t let it be an afterthought. And don’t go for generic either. Make something unique, that will reflect you and your personality.
In today’s post, I’d like to share with you a few thoughts on how to achieve just that.
Map out everything that inspires you
Your photography brand should offer you an identity. Given the creative nature of your profession, you probably have tons of ideas and sources of inspiration. If you let yourself carried away, you could easily lose focus and unity. That’s why you should begin planning your branding by centralizing everything that is close to your heart and representative to the way you’re planning to do business in one place.
I’d say you go with Pinterest, an amazing place from where you can easily get your branding inspiration. Just try a search with the keywords “Branding”, “Brand Board”, “Logo” or “Packaging”. You might feel overwhelmed by all those suggestions. What’s even better about it is that you can compile everything you’re interested in and create your own boards.
Don’t overthink it, save whatever you’re into and write down short labels, telltales for a later evaluation such as “Font”, “Color scheme”, “Formatting” etc. When you have more time, you can come back with a clear mind, remove some of them, add new ones, constantly filtering them.
Needless to say, this kind of mapping on a public social network will be a tremendous help in case you’re working with a designer. It will help you express your thoughts and set common expectations like nothing else.
Choose the words that define you and your brand
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In your case, pictures and words should revolve around several core values or attributes. Among the most inspirational images that you’ve pinned on your branding board, what words come back most often? How would you describe those images? Are they glamorous and sensual? Ethereal, dreamy and feminine? Or just the opposite, as in masculine, strong, bold?
Don’t ignore these words that keep showing up as part of a common theme. They define what you’d like to emphasize through your work, what you’re subconsciously trying to boast through your photographs. They are also the words that your ideal clients will resonate with. If you’re after portraying strong, independent business women, you’d have to use particular words that will make them tick, right?
At this point, as you’ve probably noticed, you should be focusing on identifying a common feature between the words that best describe your photography art and the words your ideal clients would respond to. Think this through and select the three most representative words. Make sure that your website copy will use them. Having them written down on your website will make your call even stronger.
Filter all over again
So far, you have created a collection of images that will help you draw the lines of your brand in terms of design and words that will help you convey your message and brand philosophy.
Time to do a serious recap and rule out everything that falls outside the common grounds of these two. For instance, if you’d like to go with “romantic” as a representative attribute of your photography, try to remove everything that would make people think of corporate or business posing.
You can also run some new, refined searches, that will better fit your criteria from the very beginning. The goal, for now, is to filter everything in several rows, like a meticulous gold digger, making sure that you sift everything that doesn’t represent you.
Give your brand a splash of color
As a photographer, colors must be like music to your ears. Choosing the color palette of your website, packaging, marketing materials and your brand is probably one of the most exciting parts. I continue to sustain that Pinterest is a great starting point for this stage too. But I would also suggest you look for some inspiration on a website such as Design Seeds.
I hope I already pinpointed the essential in the paragraph from above -you’re not just selecting your website color scheme! Your brand is all about conveying unity, so these colors will show up pretty much everywhere your business shows up. That’s why you will even have to consider what colors show up in your photographs most often, so you will know how to match them as a whole!
For instance, if you’re shooting outdoors a lot, with plenty of green shades, think of some mid-tone options that can compliment all that greenery. Monochromatic could be tempting, but I would recommend a combination of complimentary light colors that could contrast with the dark fonts: porcelain with golden and brushed silver or kohl with blushing or white, black and gold and so on.
With an exact color scheme in mind, it is time to do a recap and see which of the elements you have previously selected are in “tone” with your branding colors
Pause for your logo
I mean like, pause a lot for your logo. From all the things you are planning and projecting while branding your photography business, this one you really cannot afford to ignore:
- First, because it will show up as a watermark on every single photograph that you will share online – the more people will look at your work, the more it will get into the back of their minds.
- Second, because it will make or break your reputation – people will look at it and automatically, subconsciously or not, will judge that you have good taste or bad taste (who decides to work with a photographer that seems to have bad taste?).
- Third, because it is meant to stay with you for as long as your business is in place and you don’t want it to go unnoticeable, you want it to be unforgettable, just like your business.
That’s right, all that means that you will have to let a professional work on it. Unless you’re a designer, I strongly suggest you hire someone to work with you on designing this logo. The options are more than generous, from hosting design competitions or customizing stock logos on websites like Etsy to hiring, as advised, professional designers. It all depends on how much money you’re willing to invest in it and how serious you are about it.
Start putting the pieces together
Your brand is a sum of experiences that you are offering your clients. Everything from above will contribute to that experience so when everything is perfectly laid out, all you have to do is to put the pieces together and form the perfect puzzle that shows your uniqueness.
With all these elements filtered in several rows, you can create your brand board and save it in a .psd format, the filesystem used for Photoshop. That way, every time you will need a particular component – font, color, logo etc. – you can take it from there. Begin by implementing all these elements on your website and then gradually take them to all your marketing materials, product packaging, and product offerings.
These are not necessarily easy steps, I know. But you can think of it as a self-reflection process. The more you get to know yourself and the more of your uniqueness you get to put out there, the better you will select your perfect clients and the more of a human face your business will take. This also means that you will build a stronger connection with your clients, through your brand. And that’s what branding is all about.