We last left off with Building Your Brand and defining the foundation that your brand is built upon. Now we’ll take the next step and work on creating your brand identity and how you’ll interact with your audience.
Your brand identity is made up of the visual aspects and devises that create the overall “image” of your business:
- Business Card
- Social Media
- Studio Sign
- Employee Clothing
- Phone Calls & Voicemail
- Product Design
- Studio Decor
- Music Selection
With over a dozen individual aspects, it can be all to easy to allow your brand to differ from one format to another. Even the smallest inconsistencies can confuse your audience and weaken your overall brand. So how do you keep your brand consistent with so many varying elements? First of all, you need to create a Master Brand Board. A simple .psd document, this board should contain everything that makes up the core of your brand presence: font choice, colors, patterns, watermark, logo(s), etc. Whenever you design a new brochure or Facebook tab refer back to your Master Brand Board so you can make sure you are using the correct color code and font for headings. You can even take things a step further and include small graphics of your branding and marketing pieces so you can ensure a cohesive overall look. Here is the one that I use for Megan Marlene Photography:
The key to creating a successful brand identity is made up of these eight characteristic. Ask yourself:
Is my brand… Consistent?
Brand consistency is vital to setting you apart in today’s market and differentiating you from the dozens of other photographers in your area. Use the same fonts for your website, blog, and marketing pieces. Choose a single tagline or phrase to be known for. If your shooting style is vibrant and on-location then don’t show soft and airy studio portraits in your portfolio. A strong brand is a consistent brand.
Is my brand… Meaningful?
Every aspect of your branding should have significance and a purpose. If you choose a certain design element for your logo or marketing pieces, make sure that it contributes to your overall brand instead of being simply “fluff.” When writing copy for your website or information packets, remember that less is more when it comes to text. Try to be as concise as possible and get the intent across in as few a words as possible.
Is my brand… Appealing?
What is the first impression that people have when they are introduced to your business? Is your branding sloppy or well-designed? Is your studio cluttered or inviting? Concentrate on using your brand identity to give your clients a positive experience that they’ll want to share with their friends. By doing everything possible to leave your clients raving about your services, you give your brand an attractive and appealing public opinion, which leads to a more successful business.
Is my brand… Honest?
People do not trust fakes or liars. It’s as simple as that. Make sure that you are showing honesty and integrity in every aspect of your business and practices. This is especially important when it comes to the implied promises that your brand makes. If your tagline is “Capturing Life’s Biggest Moments” then you had better make sure you don’t miss their first kiss at the wedding, as that is one of life’s biggest moments that can never be replaced.
Is my brand… Memorable?
Your brand becomes memorable by being consistent, unique, and repetitive. Keeping an active online and community presence puts you in the forefront of your clients’ minds and allows a strong bond to be established with your brand. Choose a few elements of your brand, such as the graphic part of your logo or your tagline, to focus on and use them throughout your marketing so that they become instantly associated with your brand when found in the secular world.
Is my brand… Unique?
Before finalizing your brand identity, check the local market to see what elements are being used among other photographers. You may love a certain logo or color scheme but if it is nearly identical to another business then you run the risk of brand confusion and are better off changing it. The same is true of your business name, website design, and business card, just to name a few. A little homework goes a long way when building your brand identity.
Is my brand… Professional?
People trust professionals. And if you call yourself a professional photographer than that professionalism should extend to your branding. Choose as high a quality as you can manage/afford for every aspect of your business. If you cannot afford a good quality product or service, then it is better to not offer it at all than to be sub-par or inferior. That being said, the lack of time/money/resources is no excuse for poor business practices. Your customer service and client interaction should always be pleasant, professional, and courteous.
Is my brand… Explicit?
Your brand does absolutely no good if it is confusing. Make sure your font choices are easy to read at any size or distance. Avoid pastel shades so light or deep colors so dark that the information is hard to distinguish. Keep your logo choice simple enough that it communicates your brand in a concise way without too many distracting elements. If you have a studio or storefront, make sure that it is easily accessible and the decor style showcases your brand and business successfully.
By making sure that your brand identity is meeting each of these criteria, you are setting yourself up for having a successful and profitable photography business. That being said, the best kind of brand has the potential to evolve as your business grows, instead of forcing you to rebrand in a few years if you decide to change specialties or move to a new area. Whether you invest in a full branding service, like Braizen or Ribbons of Red, or prefer to build your brand as you go with freelance designers from Etsy or templates from Design Aglow, make sure that your brand identity is consistent, approachable, and most of all, that you are head over heels in love with it. Only then can you be truly passionate about your brand.