Before I was able to finally have my passion also be my business, I was in the marketing and public relations fields for eight years. I worked at the largest public relations firm in the world, a major university, and even did some work for a laser and skin care franchise. During this time, I learned what makes a great brand that is successful and long standing.
I'm not perfect, of course. I also made many mistakes when it came to branding myself- a lot of costly mistakes- which is why I'm going to help you by writing this Branding 101 series. Pull up a chair and make a bag of popcorn.
Generally, when you first get started in the industry, you scramble to put together a logo, business cards, a website, a blog, etc. You have to get this together immediate… or so you think.
Instead of sitting down and thinking about who you want to be as a photographer, you throw out a logo and site and think, “now let the clients roll in!” WRONG! That's not going to work in the long run because in order to attract your ideal client, they need to know who you are!
In hopes of preventing the same thing happening to you, we need to cover branding basics!
What is a brand, you say?
The American Marketing Association (aka the gods of marketing) defines a brand as “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's goods or services as distinct from those of other sellers.”
OK, so what does that actually mean? It means that a brand is a person's attitude or gut feeling about your business. It's their perception of your values and how you take care of your clients, which is why it's so important that your brand be purposeful and true to who you are. Everything you put out there, from communication to design, should have a purpose and clear message of who you are behind it.
Think of Starbucks, TOMS, Nike or Apple. These are very strong brands that have effectively communicated who they are, what they can offer you and why you should love them.
Strong brands can demand a higher premium; they have die-hard customers; they attract awesome employees and customers; and are hard to compete with. Not only do they have a recognizable logo, they exude their branding with every customer they interact with from website, to print to phone calls.
“How do I get one of these strong brands?” you ask. Easy! I'll help you step by step in my next article. (Ha! You didn't think it would be that easy did you? Come on now… I have to create some suspense!)
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