Building a strong brand is something I think many photographers either misunderstand, or don’t think about until it is too late. This is a shame, because good branding can make any photography business hugely successful. If you have put off branding or our thinking about some day going commercial, now is the time to sit down and start brainstorming your brand.
I think many photographers have a very old school frame of mind when it comes to branding. They tend to think of themselves as the brand. They are under the mindset that as their photos get better, their brand gets stronger. This my friends is not branding. This is nothing more than business as usual. It is more of a reputation building than it is branding. Reputation and a semi-decent logo will grow your business, but its only going to get you so far and its going to do it slowly.
There are many of you who Im sure understand the value of a good brand, but have been established as “Insert Name Here Photography” for so long that you don’t know how to re-brand. I don’t really blame you. Many of us started photography as a hobby, only to have it morph into a business. This transition usually happened so gradually that no one stopped to actually start planning the business.
The Basics of a Good Brand
I’m going to assume that you at least understand the basics of good branding. You understand that things like quality of work, logos, websites, and marketing material are all an important part of your businesses brand. There are countless books and resources that can help you understand the basics of branding. So for now, lets cover some of the more important parts of your brand and resources to help you.
Assuming you already have a good business name ready, you need a good logo. Don’t under estimate the value of quality logo design. If you build a crappy logo or pay someone in India to design you one for cheap, what does that say about your business? Not to mention, you may get stuck with that design indefinitely! While it isn’t impossible to find someone who can design a logo for a very low price, it isn’t something I would count on. If you are serious about your photography business, plan to spend around $500 for a good logo design.
Once you have your logo created, it’s time to start working on all your marketing materials. This includes everything from forms and contracts, to client education and packaging. Consistency is key in building a strong brand. All of your materials should have a cohesive look to them. Uses the same colors, fonts, and over all feel in all of material as much as possible. How much marketing material you use and how you use it is up to you. We have a information packet for people who are just price shopping, a detailed packet for clients photo shoots, and a fairly elaborate package presentation and client education material for their ordered products.
Check uPrinting for great printing on business cards, marketing materials, and more.
I’m going to hold my tongue here on all the poorly managed and design photographers websites out there. that is a whole other article in and of its self that will be coming out soon. All I can say about your website is make sure it matches your brand and your marketing materials. If you want a 100% custom site design, expect to pay at least $2,000. If thats out of your budget, there are some amazing WordPress Themes out there that are very inexpensive and can get you up and running for a only a few hundred dollars, including professional help for the setup. I can help you with this if you need it.
Need something a little more affordable? Check out our WordPress Themes for Photographers
Branding Yourself a Professional
Making sure you have a snappy looking logo and matching marketing material is only half of the branding game. As the owner, and most like sole photographer, you are your business. In that regards, you are one of the most important parts of your brand. So how does a photographer brand themselves? Well, it really depends on how you want to be branded I suppose. Fore the most part though there are a few steps you can take that will lead your to your goal.
Be an Expert
One of the best ways to start branding yourself is to become an expert. This is actually a lot simpler than it sounds. Becoming an expert is all about education. Spend time writing photography related articles for your blog that help educate your client. But don’t stop there. Try writing articles for local magazines and publications. A name in print holds a lot of perceived authority with it. You can also try teaching workshop to your clients. Things like helping moms learn how to use their SLR can do a lot for your expert branding and lets really get to know your clients and make new ones.
Good Customer Service
We all hate bad customer service, so make sure you aren’t the one dishing it out. Good customer service is simple. All you have to do is be nice, follow through on what you say, and be willing to go the extra mile for your clients when appropriate. In our business though, good customer service is more important than ever. Most photographers business comes from word of mouth. A client with a great experience may or may not talk you up. But a client with a bad experience is sure to tell everyone they know.
If you don’t already have a solid brand in place, start working on it now. You will thank yourself later down the road. If you already have an established brand in place, don’t think you are stuck with us. Every major brand out there has undergone a facelift or two in their time and lived. Your photography studio is sure to do the same.
If you want help or advice building your brand, check out our mentoring service.