Ever since I did my complete branding redesign (website & print materials) with the totally amazing Promise Tangeman last spring, I’ve gotten lots of email from other photographers with questions about how I went about the whole process. In fact, I’ve answered so many emails regarding it – that I finally decided – I should probably just post a blog about this!! (This post is about my side of the process, and things I learned along the way. To learn more about the design side of the process – check out Promise’s blog where she talks more about that in detail!)
First of all, I know a lot of other photographers throw branding under the bus and say there isn’t much value in investing thousands of dollars into branding for your business. I, however, completely disagree. Obviously.
Having a cohesive look and feel to your brand that helps your potential clients know who you are (and that you’re a professional) from the first moment they look at your site is absolutely invaluable. Not to mention that when your brand feels consistent and put together – from the website, to the blog, to the print materials, to your business cards – it gives you a sense of confidence about yourself and your business that I cannot even begin to describe. After my redesign – I showed up to potential client meet-ups much more confident and sure of who I was. I was proud of my business, and I know for a fact that made a world of difference in booking clients! (Of course, beyond all the design things – you need to have photos that you are proud of to start with – obviously! Having strong work that you are proud of is like the cake, and having branding you love that is uniquely you – is like the icing on the cake!)
Anyway, there is so much to talk about when it comes to branding, but I’m going to focus on the very beginning of the process… The part of the process where you zone in and find “YOU”. (The cool part about branding for photography is that your brand gets to be YOU!) I think it’s easiest for me to just make a list of things “To Do” and “Not To Do” – so here we go! 🙂
NOT TO DO:
1.) Do not look at other photographer’s websites/work/blogs/logos!! I know this seems strange – but this is my only DO NOT DO on this list. It can be easy to fall into the trap of doing what is trendy, or what “everybody else is doing” if you start your process this way. Yes – there are a ton of great branding ideas out there. Yes – a lot of photographers have awesome sites/colors/logos – but at the start of this process – you need to figure out WHO YOU ARE – not who everybody else is. So just put on your blinders and look INWARD – not outward!
1.) Look around you. What do you surround yourself with right now? How do you decorate your home? What magazines do you read? What clothes do you wear most often? What colors are prominent in your closet? (I still have people mention how I dress like my brand when I see them and I’m wearing a gray shirt with a yellow scarf. And then I make sure to point out – that my brand is ME and was born out of things I wear and things I surround myself with. I had that clothes before my rebranding – and not the other way around! :))
2.) Dream. If money were not an issue – where would you shop for clothes? Where would you buy home decorations/furniture? Make a list of these places.
3.) Go shopping. Not literally! Go online ‘window shopping’. I found it can be overwhelming to think of all the things listed above. It can be hard to pinpoint your style by looking around you. SO – I took my cousin’s advice and went window shopping online. I went to a range of stores (clothing, shoes, art, furniture, architecture) that I would shop at if money were not a factor (as listed above) and I window shopped. If I saw something I would want to buy for myself to wear, or to decorate my home – I pinned it to my rebranding Pinterest board. The important thing here is to only pin things you absolutely LOVE. Don’t pin anything you’re iffy about. Don’t pin anything you wouldn’t wear yourself, or put in your home. These should be pieces you ADORE.
4.) Make note of fonts and logos. Often when we’re shopping or reading blogs/magazines we don’t really take note of fonts and logos. But try to do that now. Look at brands you like. Why are you drawn to their logo? Is it simple? Is it timeless? Is it fun? Is it quirky? Pin fonts and logos you like to your rebranding board.
5.) Look at your work. What photos are your favorites of those you’ve taken? What kind of light are you drawn to? Pick out 3-5 of your favorite images from your work and pin to the board as well.
6.) Look at what you found. Now that you’ve done all the things above – look at them all as a group. Again, re-evaluate your choices. Only keep things you absolutely love on your board! Note what colors are prominent… what styles are prominent… and get rid of anything that isn’t consistent with the overall style that you’ve now found you have! (Trust me, you’ll suddenly realize you do have a distinct style! The pieces you chose will magically fit together and make sense – and voila! It’s YOU! It’s YOUR STYLE!)
This is what my inspiration board looked like after I did all the following (note the textures, fonts, logos, furniture, decorations, accessories, shoes and art):
Once I sent this to Promise – she had a pretty good idea of what my style was. Because of that – she was able to put together an echo inspiration board that she sent me to see if we were on the same page regarding my style and brand (because she had never met me in person yet – this part of the process was crucial for her to figure out who I was)! I then marked up the echo inspiration board she sent me – and again – made sure to note things I did not totally LOVE, and made notes of things she was SPOT ON with!
At this point in the process – we were ready to get started on the branding! Promise knew what colors I liked – what fonts, textures, and logos I liked – and she had a pretty good idea of my style (classic/modern/clean) so she was able to really get off the ground running with all this information and inspiration – and get to designing! 🙂
I hope this information helped some of you out there to get a better idea of how to start your branding process, and to be certain that the brand you come up with is UNIQUELY YOU. 🙂
(If I confused you, or you have more questions – feel free to email me!)