There is a story of a Jewish Rabbi, that was approaching the city gate in the dark, and the guard yells out, “Who are you and what is your purpose?” The Rabbi yells back, “How much do you get paid to stand there and ask that?” When the guard replies, the Rabbi tells him, “I will pay you triple to come to my house and ask me that question every morning.”
I start with this story and I want you to think about it as you read through this. I will tie it back together at the end.
So, lets talk branding, and while we are at it, lets talk re-branding. First, lets mention what re-branding isn’t. You don’t rebrand by just getting a new logo or a new website. A true re-brand would be looking at how you do business, how you operate, how you interact with your clients, your services, your products, and then a logo and website.
A brand is more than just the visuals.
Yes, a clean, well thought out and designed logo is amazing. It is good to have on a card, contracts or any other things that are part of your visual brand. I mean I love a great logo and even better…a clever logo.
(Some of my favorite clever logos)
The problem is, many photographers, myself included when I first started, think that if we get a logo and a Facebook page we are good. We don’t put in the time or effort to brand in the first place, so when we re-brand, we are actually branding for the first time. So many of us start without looking at our identity. Just like our personal life, once we know our identity, or our business identity, we can make solid decisions that will help make our brand consistent. A consistent brand is a trusted brand, and a trusted brand is a profitable brand.
Consistency is key. Both in visuals and how you operate. If you are starting out, or rebuilding your brand, and you are deciding on if you should remove images are keep them, remember that, if a client sees your portfolio, and the images are not consistent they will be unsure as to what to expect from you. They do not know which images are the new or old, you have to guide them.
That being said, it is my personal opinion that if you do different types of photography, you can edit a family session differently than you may a couple’s session, or a maternity session. Others may disagree with me, but that is the beauty of life, we can all do what we want.
So speaking of guiding, when it does come to building your site, remember that you must guide your potential clients into booking you.
“How do I do this?” you may ask. Well every business has a Unique Selling Point (USP). This is where knowing who you are and having a solid identity will help you. You need to sit down and really think about what it is you offer to the client. If you cannot do this, then how will they?
In the marketing world there is a difference between brand identity and a brand image. There is a very important distinction to make. These two elements of a brand when they work together can help create an extremely strong brand.
Brand Identity – Originates from the business, and is how the business wishes to be perceived.
Brand Image – Is perceived by the external source, or the customer.
These two brand elements are more than just the logo and site. But rather the emotional appeal to the world around us. Companies like Nike, North Face, and Apple are prime examples of a companies that have worked hard to have the two in sync.
The problem arises when you have not thought through your identity and just put it out there, and your image does not fall in line. That is why re-branding is more than just a logo or a website.
Think of the visual elements of your brand as the top of an iceberg.
Remember in school when we learned that only a small portion of an iceberg is visible? That is the same with brands. Can you see customer service? Can you see/touch when a client feels calm around you when you are shooting? Can you see the emotion when they are overjoyed by how good they look in your photos? You can see the effects.
So how do you operate your brand? Who are you? Remember the story that I started with? Can you verbalize who you are? What your unique selling point? What problem do you solve for your client? Ask yourself “Who am I and what is my purpose?”
There are several great resources online to help with this. Hubspot has a great guide.
(I am in no way affiliated with them, nor do I get paid to mention them).
There are several key things that you can do.
1. Start with who you are, why are you in business? What is your purpose?
2. Who is your target market? Get as specific as possible.
3. What is your position in the market? Figure out the competition and where you currently land and where you want to land in the market.
4. Really think about your brand identity, take a look at the guide from Hubspot.
5. Build your website and make your online presence cohesive
6. Lay out a plan. Set measurable goals, and evaluate those goals after a preset amount of tim