BRANDING your business properly!

“A brand isn’t a brand to you until it develops an emotional connection with you.”  Daryl Travis 

We’re going to play a game.  I’m going to write a word and I want you to think of the first thing that comes to mind.  I’m going to try and guess what it is you’re thinking of.  Okay?  Okay!

McDonalds
Target
Tiffany’s & Co.
Louis Vuitton
For McDonalds I’m guessing you thought of a Big Mack, French Fries and fast food.  Maybe workers who hate their job, and get your order wrong and of course those golden arches.  Target you thought of the big bulls eye target, red and white commercials, and probably how much you like it better than Walmart.  Tiffany’s you thought of that gorgeous Tiffany Blue; probably on a box that holds your dream ring that you can never afford but will always want.  And Louis Vuitton is that trademark L and V that you see on the most coveted purses, and luggage and how only rich people can afford things like that so you always buy the knock off.
Now this game might not have worked but hopefully I was right on at least one of them and hopefully you get where I was going with this.  These companies have branded themselves so incredibly well that you hear the store’s name and you immediately know what kind of store it is and what products they carry.  A store like Tiffany’s is NOT going to have a play area in their store with a clown for their mascot.  “Why not, the clown is funny?”  Because it is actually very scary and it attracts kids.  Children do not buy engagement rings.  And just to make one thing straight Branding and a Logo are two different things.  A logo is your symbol.  It’s the Tiffany’s font spelling the word Tiffany & Co.  Branding is all your activities and the message you want to send to your clients through media, tools, everything, relating who you are and what you do.  For Tiffany’s it’s the signature blue box. THAT is why Tiffany’s doesn’t have a play area.  They do not want to tell people, “Bring your kids in to our store.”  They want to tell people, we are expensive, we have the best quality in jewelry, we are classy, sophisticated and will make you the happiest woman in the world.  No kids!  They could break something and you would have to pay dearly!

Leah talked about logo’s yesterday.  Although a logo and branding are different they go together.  Besides your work, your logo says the most about you.  I personally like the grunge look because that is me.  You’re not going to see my logo with  hearts and flowers.  I have a very textured background, with a black grunge font, and spindly tree and bird.  Leah likes the whimsical romantic look.  Neither one is right or wrong, or better or worse than the other, UNLESS it doesn’t suit you.  From looking at Leah’s photos she does like romantic pictures, almost fairytaleish, yes I’m making up my own words now, and beautiful.  If I could shoot at the dump, with old rusty cars and dirt all day I would.  I love that feel!  It’s also like the clothes you wear.  I know if Leah had all the $ in the world you would only see designer clothes in her closet.  For me it would not matter because I still have no sense in style and I would end up wearing my converse anyway.  I honestly have to take my sisters shopping with me for fear of hearing one of their snide remarks.  True story.  My point is your brand is you and you have to make sure you tell your story.

Okay, say you have your logo.  You know what style you are, now what kind of people do you think you’re going to attract.  Although I would LOVE to get all the business in my little town, if I did there would be a lot of disappointed clients because although I may take a great picture it may not be their style and taste.  In an interview with Wendy from Bluelily, with the question asked, “What is something you know now that you wish you knew when you first started?”  Her answer was, “Sometimes a client will come along who just doesn’t match your style and/or vibe.  It’s okay to point them in another direction, help them find what they are truly looking for.”  You have to understand that your brand and style is different from everybody else’s and that’s a good thing.  We want to be unique but as you grow and develop into your style you’re going to attract those type of clients.  When interviewing Matt Clayton the question was asked, “How do you encourage clients to go for a certain look?  With his response, “I’m fortunate to attract a clientele that already has that look.”  Somebody who likes a modern/retro look is not going to go to a studio with a backdrop with clouds on it.  Hopefully not or they’ll be very disappointed.

Which brings me to my next point.  As much as we want to be unique, we need to stay current.  There is a photographer in my town that has not changed his style in over 15 years and he is losing business because he is not keeping up with the ever growing trends.  If you saw a photo like this in a photographers portfolio would you want them to take your picture?  I don’t think so.  I know.  I’m mean.

Taken from Awkward Family Photos .com
We need to be responsive and innovative.  You know in high school when a new trend popped up or a new word became “cool” to say? Well break out you hip persona!  We want to be the ones putting out the new trends, taking the photos that no one has taken before, saying to our clients that we are fresh and new and I can give you something that no one else has.  After we send that message to our audience we need to make sure we fulfill on the promise.  We need to deliver.  Have you ever ordered something and then found out it did not meet your expectations?  That it was WAY under par?  Or seeing a movie preview, thinking it was going to be the best movie and you came out disappointed?  We want to make sure our time and talent is as excellent as our preview and we want our preview to be nothing but excellent.
So what’s our preview as a photographer?  We don’t have trailers and we don’t have commercials.  We have business cards, blogs, websites, ads, and previous clients.  We need all those things to make a statement for us.  On a little business card 3.5″ x 2″ we need to captivate our audience and tell the people who look at them what we are capable of.  The same goes with our internet sites, ads and of course the best way to get our names out there, previous clients.  That is one reason you want to deliver.  Because the best way to get your name out there is from a referral. And a little hint – Leah has something awesome in store to cover ALL of that and way more on Friday!!
Branding isn’t just your logo, it’s your work, your style, your message, YOU.  It’s creating a streamlined image for yourself across the board. Make sure you put off the right message and have a blast doing it.  Don’t try to change yourself for more clientele.  You could end up getting burned or getting a bad rap in the end.  Stay true to yourself and the rest will follow.

So what is branding? Branding is in the details. It’s tying it all together from the logo, to the portrait style, from the business card to the blog, from the blog to the packaging and back again and creating an honest front with an emotional connection for your client base.

I hope this helps and stay tuned for tomorrow’s edition of our business week where we are going to talk about the importance of packaging.  Whoot whoot!

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