Your photography brand is so much more than a logo. But what does that mean? Our expert reveals the myths and truths of successful branding! (Featuring: ANGIE WEBB)
If you’ve done any branding research, you already know: your photography brand isn’t just your logo. A brand encompasses everything – from the first email to the final photo. Your brand is the very essence of your business.
When you think about your brand, think beyond the logo and consider these elements:
- your visuals, from website to printed materials to – yes – your logo.
- customer experience, including emails, phone interactions, and in-person engagement.
- your photographs. Yep, that’s right! Consistency in your photography may have the biggest impact in making your brand memorable.
- what you wear. If you communicate an elegant, refined photo brand, but show up to your first client meeting wearing yoga pants, you’ll likely confuse your clients.
- where you meet. You don’t have to have a studio. But your meeting spots should align with your brand messaging!
- …and so much more!
Brand Photography and Its Relevance to Businesses
Photography branding encompasses photos, colors, style, workflow, and other assets that visually identify your business. Brand is something you build and apply across your website, social media, and all marketing materials.
Additionally, branding for photographers is also about you and your personality. Brilliant branding is a reflection of you and your business, so it’s crucial that these are aligned in order to connect with your ideal clients.
First Impressions Matter
People gather first impressions about visuals or aesthetics in just 50 milliseconds. That’s basically a short breath! Data shows that you need to showcase consistent branding throughout your client’s journey. With the right branding, you can guide clients toward learning more about you and your business. When your branding resonates, clients will fall more in love with your work!
Attract Ideal Clients
Your brand is one of the best ways to attract ideal clients. A personal brand encompasses all aspects of your business and highlights your style and values. As a photographer, you must use powerful visuals to inspire people to learn more about your business.
Make Your Brand More Human and Relatable
People want to truly connect with each other, which means there’s a good chance your clients want to see the face behind the business.
That’s why it’s important for your website and social media accounts to show photos of you! It can be intimidating to show up on social media—maybe you think you’re not interesting enough or you don’t have anything to say to your followers. We’ll let you in on a little secret though: the worst thing you can do for your brand is not show your face.
If you don’t have any professional photos of yourself, consider (ironically) hiring a branding photographer to do a shoot with you! By working with someone who specializes in branding photography, you can convey a clearer message to prospective clients.
People (especially those thinking about hiring you), want to get to know you and see the photographer behind the photos! Don’t be afraid to show up on an Insta Story or share a behind-the-scenes look at one of your photoshoots.
Photographers know that visual content drives client satisfaction and sales. Aside from images, branding in the form of illustrations, infographics, and videos can generate more organic website traffic, and consequently, more engagement.
Think of your favorite companies–why do you like them so much? One main reason probably has to do with their consistency. Well, the same goes for photography brands! Consistency builds trust and loyalty. If the colors and fonts displayed in your marketing materials look disheveled, prospective clients might assume your workflow is disorganized.
People start to trust you when they know what to expect, and they will base this partially on the consistency of your photography branding. Making your visual elements work cohesively results in consistency, not just in branding, but in your business as a whole.
Guarantee Quality and Dedication
The best photography branding means investing in messaging, visual assets, and new skills. From the initial inquiry to the delivery of products, clients rely on your quality control. Remember, the quality of your visuals reflect the amount of effort you put into your business as a whole.
“So Where Do I Even Begin?”
Angie Webb hears this questions every day in her job as an Atlanta-based brand strategist. Among her clients are numerous photographers seeking help with their photo brand. The first thing she tells them?
“If you’re in the beginning phases of creating your business, don’t spend tons of cash hiring a brand designer just yet! You don’t need a fancy, professionally-designed logo to get started. What you DO need is brand awareness.” – ANGIE WEBB
Brand visuals created by ANGIE WEBB
The 3 Myths That Are Holding You Back
What the heck is brand awareness? you’re probably asking. Or maybe you have some idea of what that means, but no clue how to implement it.
Here, we’ll break down the most common photography branding myths our industry faces, and what you should be doing instead!
Myth #1: My Business Is Too Small To Worry About Branding.
Truth: You’re defining your photography brand from day one – whether you mean to or not!
The perfect time to begin honing your brand is precisely when your business is small! This is when you have the flexibility and freedom to refine your style and define your target market.
“If you’re just starting out, don’t waste your time and money on a snazzy logo or a fancy custom website. Instead, use that energy to explore your craft, and make note of who and what truly ignites a fire in your heart.
“You’ll begin noticing common threads between your favorite clients, which will help you define your target market. Once you know who you’re working for, you can refine your brand to speak your ideal client’s language.” – ANGIE WEBB
Action Step #1: Evaluate Your Portfolio
Angie suggests beginning your branding process by reassessing your current portfolio (most likely on your website).
- Do all your portfolio images “speak the same visual language?” If your photographs look like they could have been taken by several different photographers, reconsider your portfolio selections. You may also need to review your post-production workflow for inconsistencies.
- Make a list of the commonalities between your favorite images and clients. What makes these photos and clients so special to you? Why did these clients book you in the first place?
“If you don’t know the answer to a question, find out! Surveying my past clients is built into my workflow. The info you receive is invaluable!” – ANGIE WEBB
Homework: Learn The Language
“Using information from your lists above and any surveys you’ve conducted, brainstorm how you can better speak your ideal client’s language!” – ANGIE WEBB
Myth #2: My Photography Brand Has To Mirror My Personal Style.
Truth: When it comes to business, your photography brand is ultimately about your customer.
Before dedicating herself full time to design, Angie spent 10 years as a wedding photographer. As her business grew, she realized the clients she loved most were “hyper-intellectual grad school students who were super-in-love, with little time or interest in planning a wedding.”
Personally, Angie didn’t feel that she had much in common with these individuals. But she loved working with them. Therefore, she developed her brand to further appeal to these ideal clients – not merely to showcase her own personality.
Angie’s ideal clients:
- valued authenticity and fun.
- weren’t motivated by formalities and fluff.
“I built my photography brand visuals around a vibrant color palette, and showcased journalistic images that would resonate emotionally. It worked! I found myself photographing more and more of the weddings and people I loved.” ANGIE WEBB
Homework: Dig for Data
Follow Angie’s suggestions for a deeper dive into what motivates your ideal clients. This is how you’ll find more of them:
- Make note of their clothing and accessory choices. How do they prefer to express themselves outwardly?
- As you get to know your clients, pay attention to how they invest their time and energy. Even if they vacation and volunteer differently from you, this can tell you a lot about how to reach them through your photography brand.
Myth #3: A Successful Photography Brand Needs A Trendy Logo
Truth: The most effective brands are trend-proof!
Angie recalls over a decade of visual trends, from monogram-based logos, to watercolor, to gold foil, then calligraphy…
Rather than endlessly pursuing the next big thing in photo brand visuals, Angie recommends:
“Build your photography brand around classic aesthetics, rooted in what you know will attract your target market. This will result in a trend-proof brand that will serve you for a long long time.” – ANGIE WEBB
Design by ANGIE WEBB | Photo by HOLLY GARDNER
Homework: The Photography Brand Experience
Angie knows that “every client interaction is your opportunity to provide a great brand experience.” Instead of fixating on the perfect logo, regularly check in on the finer points of your brand.
- Does your voicemail message support the way you want customers to feel when they call your business?
- Do the words on your website and in your social media posts align with your values?
- Is anything broken on your website that might prevent visitors from reaching you?
Photography Branding Ideas to Make Your Business Memorable
There are several key elements that can help you build beautiful photography branding. Here a few ways to bring your brand to life.
Brainstorm Words That Best Define Your Branding
From thinking of a business name to choosing the right captions for your Instagram posts, words can help you describe your business and position yourself in the marketplace.
Start by listing the top 20 words or phrases that resonate with your style as a photographer. For example, if you want people to see you as an adventurous photographer, maybe your branding includes words such as “adventure,” “daring,” and “exploration.”
When it comes to the words you choose, it’s okay to be specific, even laser-focused. Ultimately, the words you choose help you attract ideal clients. If everyone can relate to your message, you probably aren’t being specific enough!
Dream up an Unforgettable Business Name
While you may already have a name for your business, take time to reflect on whether it fits the brand you want to build in the future. If the name no longer matches your vision, then consider choosing a new one. But be careful not too change your name many times–that’s why you should find a name that will reflect your long-term business model.
Similar to a logo, make sure to pick a name that will stand the test of time. In 5 years or even 10 years, will your studio name sound outdated or trendy?
Stick to a Color Palette
Another way to build strong photography branding is by choosing and sticking to a color palette. After all, colors play an essential role in photos. In some cases, the editing of your images can influence a client’s decision to hire you.
Pick a Signature Font
Similar to a logo and color palette, the fonts you choose say something about your branding. For instance, bold, austere typography might mean your photos have a timeless or modern style. Hand-lettering, on the other hand, may portray quirkiness or a fun-loving spirit. Sans Serif fonts, such as Helvetica, can convey a sleek feel.
Customize Delivery of Products
Your logo, colors, and fonts don’t only apply to websites or social media. Remember that photography branding is all about quality and consistency across everything you do. When you deliver physical products to a customer, think about the packaging. Does it match your branding?
If not, take time to figure out how you can improve your packaging to be consistent with your brand! For example, you can customize thumb drives with your business name and logo, or you can include a handwritten note that has your logo printed at the top of the card.
Focus Your Photography Brand
By focusing your brand on your ideal clients, you’ll free yourself up to really take care of those clients as they come along. And when your clients feel safe and secure in their photographer’s hands, they’ll feel free to focus on what matters most to them.