You’ve got a logo. It’s on your website, your business card, your marketing materials. You’ve also chosen some colors to represent Your Studio Photography: perhaps they’re peacock blue and flecked gold, or classic black and white.
But do you have a brand?
A brand is the vision that you project outward to the world. A brand is the cluster of expectations and values you bring to each client experience. A brand is aspirational–we deal in hopes and dreams!–and also authentic, true to the personality and essence of your business.
In short, a brand is much more than Your Studio Photography written in peacock blue and gold.
Do potential clients get a feeling when they view your portfolio and marketing collateral, or does your business register as Just Another Photography Studio? Can potential clients describe what differentiates you from the other 842 photographers in your market? Do they stick around long enough to even know?
Here’s a test: ask three intelligent people to review your current brand. Corner your most honest friend, a helpful fellow photographer, or the mom of your kid’s best bud. Take them out for coffee. Show them your logo, your website, your marketing materials.
Then ask them what they feel.
Hopefully they feel something. Ask them for specific adjectives, about each specific aspect of your branding (website, logo, etc). Ask them what they would expect their experience to be if they hired Your Studio Photography. Fun? Laid back? Glamourous? Playful? Wild?
Now take that information back to your own Brand Laboratory, and ask yourself this: what do you want your potential clients to feel? What do you want their experience to be? If your answers don’t match the feedback from your friends, then you have an issue of brand disconnect.
If your brand is, ahem, not very well branded, you’re potentially losing hundreds of clients. Unfortunately, you can’t quantify how many engaged couples or young families or seniors click over to your website, then immediately click away, confused by muddled brand messages, or worse, no brand message at all.
So if your brand is indeed a black hole, what exactly can you do about it? Read Design Aglow’s three step guide to brand analysis to find out.
1) Determine what style and feelings your brand should convey. Many contemporary photography businesses are named after the photographer. But describing your brand as yourself–“but my brand is me!”– is a cop out. To actually brand your business, you need to figure out what you are, and what you represent. Analyze both your personal preferences and the style of your images. so that you can make sure that your style of photography matches up with the brand you’re trying to portray. Whimsical, stylized photography probably doesn’t mesh with a brand that conveys its message with masculine graphics and darker colors.
Think about this: are you preppy? Indie? Sparkly and pink or graphic and grey? Inspiration boards can really help with this process. And they’re so easy to make: use Pinterest to collect swatches of ideas and images that you like. Once you have pulled together a board, sit down with a friend to tease out repeating motifs, colors, styles, and sentiments.
Another set of issues to consider: what do you want your clients to feel as they engage with Your Studio Photography? Do you want them to have the sense that they are pampered, or that they’re collaborating with a trusted friend? From their first encounter with Your Studio Photography through the final email, write down what a client should experience–and what they should feel throughout the process.
2) Determine whether the elements of your current brand portray this feeling and style. Does that flower or that squiggly line in your logo make clients feel good? Not so much. Here’s when you need to return to the feedback your friends offered. Figure out what you can keep, and what needs to be reconfigured. Your branding needs to be consistent in every client interaction, from print to web, so assess accordingly.
3) Rebrand! Design templates are a great place to start, as they are customizable, affordable, and accessible. You can also get a sense of your style (the all-important step #1) by perusing different designs and taking note of what you like. Design Aglow’s templates coordinate across platforms–see our Marketing Suites, Welcome Packets, and ProPhoto Blog Templates–to instabrand your identity. The included layered PSD files means that all templates are instantly tweakable, so that you can use them as a starting point for your own brand vision. And our soon to be launched Design Aglow Logo Shop will offer unlimited options to help get those brand feelings across. Happy branding!
Have more questions about branding? Want to show off your brand? Design Aglow would love to hear from you on our Facebook page!