What do you tell people about your business without actually telling them anything? More importantly, how do you convey that message? The answers to these questions hold the crux of the basics of branding. When we talk about branding a business, most people instantly connect it to developing an attractive logo, a catchy tagline, and effective public relations (PR) activities to create a buzz around the brand. As much as all of these are a part of the process, they are just the tip of the iceberg. A compelling branding strategy has many more layers. Essentially, branding constitutes the overall voice of your business! It is not what you tell your clients - but rather what they perceive your business to be. And that stands true for any business, including your photography business. In this blog, we take you through every step of how to build a brand and the importance of photography branding. So, let’s dive in!
What Is Branding?
When you walk into a store planning to buy a specific product, let’s say headphones, and come across a host of similar products from different brands at a similar price range, do you ever notice what compels you to choose a specific brand? What strikes you about the brand you zeroed in on? Maybe the look of the particular piece, the packaging, the customer service, the product quality, the competitive price, or the trust value the brand holds - all these elements play a crucial role when making a purchase, and all of them account for branding!
In the words of Seth Godin, an entrepreneur, a best-selling author, and a marketing pioneer, a brand is “the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
And we agree! Moreover, simply having a business ≠ a strong brand image. You may have an up and running business, but to have a strong brand image, it takes more than just running the day-to-day functions of your business. Branding allows you to gain trust and create a loyal customer base for your business.
Why Is Photography Branding Important?
Now, you might think that smaller businesses might not need to invest their resources and energies into branding. Let’s get that notion out at the very start. The truth is that branding is equally important for all businesses - be it small scale or large scale. Similarly, branding your photography business is just as important. Whether your business comprises a full-fledged photography team of professional photographers, second shooters, assistants, etc., or a single person, creating a brand that is a true representation of your business will only add value to your business.
Let us explain how! As a photographer, you are not just selling your services as a professional but also the whole experience you offer to your clients. More and more, prospective clients wish to analyze what else you are offering to them apart from your services. Such as the ease of doing business, faster turnaround time, state-of-the-art experience, guidance in planning the workflow, free prints, simplified payment breakdown, and so on. In addition to that, they also tend to take into consideration your social media presence, personality, photography style, and reviews. Every single of these expectations that clients might have from your service makes up your brand promise. And a strong branding strategy knows how to execute these tasks and meet client expectations.
We hope the points discussed so far help you understand the power of branding your business. Need more reassurance? Here are some branding statistics to back us up:
- 64% of people cite shared values as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand.
- Using a signature color scheme can increase brand recognition by up to 80%.
- 73% of customers love a brand because of its customer service experience.
- 48% of consumers said that the first interaction is when a brand is most likely to gain their loyalty.
- 63% of consumers say they have engaged with disappointing brand content, and 23% said they wouldn’t go back and read that brand’s content again after that bad experience.
Note: Statistics courtesy of StartupBonsai and Bop Design.
How To Build A Photography Brand
There is a lot that goes into building a business, and even a lot more to establish it as a strong brand in the market. Here we have broken down the entire process of building a photography brand into a series of steps. Take a look!
1. Derive Your Inspiration
Before setting your focus on how to become inspiring, it is important to look within and reflect on what inspires you. It could be anyone - a pioneer in your industry or a legendary entrepreneur operating in an entirely different sector from yours. In fact, it could even be a personal experience or a creative thought process. Whatever helps you build your brand. However, this does not translate into adopting another brand’s persona as your own. Rather, think of it as a way to derive inspiration to design your own photography branding ideas to get closer to defining your style and goals.
2. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition
There are a hundred different photographers running a business. What is it that makes your business so unique and worth spending the bucks on? Well, this is one aspect that needs you to have some clear understanding. Because once you are clear about how your brand stands out from the rest in the industry, communicating the same to prospective clients and convincing them to hire your services could be a lot easier. To get a better idea of what your business’s unique selling proposition (USP) is, we’d like to draw your attention to three things - your photography style, the client experience, and your strengths and weaknesses.
Identify how your photography style differentiates you, and puts you at an advantage, over your competitors. Is your base pricing your strength? Or do you have a package that has additional services clubbed together as freebies? What are you doing differently - than most of your competitors - that has a direct impact on your customer experience? One of the ways to better reflect on all these aspects is to focus on what went well with your past clients. Focus on areas they have benefited from and have been appreciative of your work. Once you identify what makes your business unique, highlighting your USP and building your brand based on those aspects might take much less of your time and effort.
3. Identify Your Target Audience
For your photography branding to work well, it is essential to learn more about your target client. After all, they are the group of people you wish to sell your services to. And you can only build your photography marketing and branding to cater to them when you know more about them. There are multiple ways to help make your branding efforts a success. However, we’d recommend that you stay away from offering everything to everyone. Because when you try to cater to everyone - instead of just concentrating on your target clients - the chances of your brand value getting diluted go up.
Understand that by trying to accommodate the needs of the entire market, you might just end up creating a mess. So start by identifying your ideal clients and invest in building your brand, catering to that specific client base. This includes your pricing structure, website, social media, etc.
Related Read: How To Find Your Ideal Client
4. Build Your Brand’s Personality
When someone mentions Apple or SpaceX, what comes to your mind? Trust, innovation, advanced technology? Apart from being successful businesses, they are also very strong brands that prompt people to perceive them not only as businesses but also as strong brand personalities. Strong brands don’t just market better, but they also try to build a better connection with their target audience.
And to build that connection, it is essential to be consistent in your portrayal of the brand’s persona. Your brand’s persona is built based on everything you do as a brand - what you communicate to your clients through your brand and how you do it play a major role here. For instance, do you portray yourself as a luxury photography brand that often books high-end weddings? Or, do you prefer creating a personalized adventure elopement experience? And are you a light and airy photographer, or do you incline more toward moody or documentary photography? Being consistent in the portrayal of your brand is crucial to gaining trust and attracting the right clients.
5. Build A Mood Board
A mood board is a collage of images displayed in a way that communicates your idea or concept on a specific topic. In simpler words, it is a visual representation of your style and thought process. As a photographer, displaying a mood board to your clients can help them better understand your photography style and brand.
Pinterest is an excellent platform to help you create a stellar mood board to represent the look and feel of your photography brand. Canva and InDesign are some other tools that you can use to create a mood board. To create an impactful mood board, start with assembling all the images that are a great representation of your style and stand true to your brand voice. Moreover, make sure they resemble your brand’s style, fonts, and colors.
6. Take Your Business Online
Take your business online for more visibility. Exploring the online space includes testing the waters of search engine optimization (SEO) and social media. Begin by setting up a website. A website is as much a representation of your brand as your photography studio, in some aspects, even more so. It opens up your business to a new section of the audience. Therefore, making it all the more important to extend your photography branding efforts while designing it.
Your photography website should be a clear representation of your brand’s personality. The colors, the design, the font style, the content, the images - everything should align with your brand’s style guide. To get a better understanding of how to get it right, read this blog on how to create stunning photography websites.
In addition to starting a website to build a successful photography brand, it is equally important to expand your branding efforts to the social media world as well. Some 200 million social media users visit at least one business profile every day. This data is reason enough to create a compelling social media presence for your brand. However, as in the case of websites, simply having a social media account isn’t enough. Curate your feed in a way that they are a mirror of everything you represent as a brand.
While building your photography brand online, a few other things will help you identify and establish it as a unique brand. We have listed them down below:
Brand Name: Your brand name is one of the most important business identifiers. Not only does it help your audience to find and identify your brand, but it also gives a peek into your business. In the digital world, it could also be your domain name. Be mindful of how you set up your business name. Most solopreneurs tend to keep their name as their brand name, for example, KT Merry Photography. This is an example of a classic brand name. Give this blog on different types of brand name ideas a read to explore more.
Keywords: Research keywords that identify with your business’s core service. For instance, if you are a destination wedding photographer, your main keywords would be destination weddings, destination wedding photography, etc. Do keyword research and learn more about your core keywords and build your content marketing efforts with these keywords in mind. Targeting the right keywords can help you make your content available to the right audience.
Logo: What’s the need for a logo you ask? Hear us out: You require something other than just a brand name to add to the recall value of your business and, more importantly, your brand. And a logo does that perfectly. Moreover, building a logo is one of the main pillars of photography branding. Even though the process of logo designing could be a bit expensive, it is highly recommended to seek a professional rather than looking for low-cost alternatives.
Thematic Colors and Fonts: Let’s do an exercise! Visit the website of any five popular brands; these could be from any industry. And notice the number of colors that have been used in each one of them. You will realize that each brand’s website has a few set colors or a color theme that they follow throughout their website design. This in itself emphasizes the importance of consistency. You could choose any color scheme; however, it is important to keep in mind the visual aspects. To learn more about the psychology of color and how to use it in design, take a look at this blog by Rasmussen University. In addition to colors, also try to be consistent in the use of font style. Make sure that the color and the font style you decide to use echo the message you wish to convey, i.e., fun, elegant, vibrant, sophisticated, etc.
- Portfolio: Building a portfolio is a crucial aspect of your photography branding journey. It is a visual representation of your work, your skill set, and your photography style. It also communicates your brand style without having to use any words. What’s more? A good portfolio also helps you build a feeling of trust in your clients.
7. Excellent Customer Service
As we already said, branding your business has a lot to do with the kind of experience you curate for your clients. From the moment they click on your wedding photography website until they receive their photographs, their customer experience will speak more about your brand value than any of the marketing efforts ever will. Marketing, design, UX/UI, and social media presence - these are all important elements of building your brand, but none of them is a substitute for excellent customer service and experience. Just remember, happy clients are some of the best promoters of your business.
Related Read: How To Ensure Excellent Customer Service: A Wedding Photographer’s Guide
Branding Mistakes To Avoid
When you think about your photography branding, are you sending the right message to clients? If your brand message is confusing or misleading, you may miss out on booking clients who are ideal for your business. How do you then convey your brand message to continue attracting ideal clients? Moreover, there are various aspects of your business that you need to focus on. How do you ensure that you identify any branding mistakes well within time so that it doesn’t cost you in the long run? Well, we have made a list of branding blunders that photographers often tend to overlook during their journey of building a strong brand - as well as quick ways to fix them.
1. SHARING NON-BRANDED HEADSHOTS
As ideal clients view your website, after the home page, one of the next pages they see is your About page. Are the photos you share on your About page the best you have of yourself? If you share an image of yourself that does not represent your brand, how would clients rely on you to create stunning photos on their wedding day?
Because your headshot is vital to your brand, take the time to create one with the perfect lighting, posing, and representation of your personality. When you showcase a professional headshot on your About page, ideal clients will be able to put a face to your brand and get to know you more.
Not every shot of you needs to be serious, either. Even if that is not exactly your brand, it showcases your personality so that clients get to know you better. You can include photos of your family, pets, or something that is really important to you. Having your professional and personality elements on your About page is crucial to showing who you are as a person and a photographer.
2. USING AN INCONSISTENT WRITING STYLE
When a couple is looking for a photographer for their wedding day, chances are they also browse other websites besides yours. In addition to featuring the best photos on your home page, are you adding text to enhance their experience and engage with them? If you only feature photos on your home page and nothing else, how would ideal clients know what makes your brand different from other brands?
If your client only sees images on your home page, the only way for them to compare you to another photographer is only your images. The way you can quickly communicate your value is through copywriting. “Words can tell stories in a way that photographs sometimes cannot,” feels photographers Ben Hartley. The words you use to reflect your brand are crucial to your success and should be the same on every platform where you have a presence. Cases in point are the text you use on your website, emails, contracts, and other pieces of content.
Quick Tip: In your email text, focus on your signature so it showcases your brand. Show where your work has been published, as those brands help influence your own. Plus, add in your photography business logo, so they keep your unique style in mind.
3. FOCUSING ON A DESIGNER ROLE
Whether you have been in business for a long time, or just getting started, creating a brand often includes a specific design plan. Since most of your time is dedicated to honing your craft, are you qualified to create the design for your platforms? If you are not an expert in designing, you risk creating a confusing and unrecognizable brand message for ideal clients.
Hiring a professional designer who can create a specific and branded design for your business can make a monumental difference. Just like you can outsource some of your post-production to a wedding photo editing company, it can also benefit you to outsource your brand design. If you do not have the budget to hire a professional designer, you can use websites such as 99 Designs and Creative Market to get you started.
4. MANAGING CONFLICT UNPROFESSIONALLY
As a wedding photographer, you work with various people throughout the year. Have you ever run into conflict with them during the course of the wedding process? How did you handle the issue? If you handle conflict unprofessionally at any point, you risk your reputation and brand.
Avoid posting about conflicts with clients on any platform, especially social media. When a client has an issue, and it needs to be resolved, reach out to them quickly. Instead of using communication methods such as email, text, or social media, call your clients on the phone and talk it out. You can control the way the conversation goes over the phone, rather than risking a misinterpretation of an email or text. It also shows your clients how invested you are in solving the conflict, and you are acting in a professional manner that reflects your brand.
Suggested Read: Common Wedding Client Problems & How To Handle Them
5. SHOWCASING TOO MANY SPECIALTIES
As Lee Atwater said, “Perception is reality.” In your photography business, finding your specialty is crucial to attracting and booking ideal clients. How can clients know if you are a perfect fit for them if you offer too many services on your website? Even if you love shooting pets and fancy newborn photography, if it is not your specialty, be cautious about including it on your wedding photography website.
If you are having trouble narrowing down your specialty, ask yourself “why” questions. Why do you shoot? Why are you a photographer? Why have you gone into business? You can also ask yourself if you are connected to the photography you are drawn to as your specialty. These questions can help direct you to what you should be shooting. Once you decide on a specialty, you can represent it on your website and clients may start recognizing your brand.
Further Read: A Roadmap To Market Your Wedding Photography Business
Branding for photographers is an important area to focus on, so it is crucial to understand how to identify and fix branding photography mistakes in your business. When ideal clients know who you are through your brand message, you can more easily build a connection with them.
Here at ShootDotEdit, we aim to help you reach your true potential as a wedding photographer. In addition to helping your business grow by sharing these resourceful tips, we are also happy to take editing off your plate. To learn more about how we could help, take a look at our pricing plans.
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