Which Came First, The Business or the Brand?

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I get this question emailed to me on at least a weekly basis: “I'm kind of new to the photography business and I don't know if I'm ready for a brand, but I'm not attracting the right clients (or any clients) to my business, what should I do?”  As a designer, I've seen various effects that logos and brands have on business and traffic. In my opinion, I think that no matter which direction you go, designer or not, it's an absolute MUST to put some thought into your brand before you put it out there for the world to see.

So many times, I've seen logo design go something like this: “I like this bold font. I like bright purple. I'm going to put this camera in because I'm a photographer…boom, LOGO! Let's put it on ALL THE THINGS!” Maybe that logo could be a perfect representation of your business, and in that case, go you!!! Maybe though, you're sending the complete opposite message than you intend to and you don't even know it.

No matter if you're going it alone, or hiring someone to help you develop your business, it's important to go looking for inspiration, looking for patterns in things that you are drawn to that have the feel that you want your business to have, and looking for commonalities in your art that signal a direction that you're heading toward. If your work and editing (as a photographer) are all over the place, it's important to first hone in your craft before exploring, or I guarantee that you will be changing your brand every six months to suit the latest trend in branding, at the same time you are exploring the latest trend in editing. If you have consistency in your editing though, it's time to present a professional image for your business that complements your work and gives a viewer an honest look at you and your business.

There is something empowering about knowing who you are, and having a visual representation of that knowledge for others to see.

[dropcap]1[/dropcap] Step one would be to put together a design board. Pinterest is like a black hole, so make sure that you start with a plan of some things to search for before you look at the clock and it's four hours later and you haven't eaten lunch or fed your kids (guilty!). Start looking into colors you think that you like.  Search for color combinations that you might want to use. What comes up when you do that? Does it look like the you and your business when you see them come up? Does it give off the right feel of you, and suit your work and style? Pin those things to a board and look for similar commonalities being represented through the images on your board, and that can help you begin to get a clearer picture of where you are headed.

[dropcap]2[/dropcap]Step two is to look into typography or fonts that you might connect with. Typography gives off an instant feeling and voice, so make sure that you're taking the time to think about what yours is saying about you. Is it vintage? Is it whimsical? Is it bold? Is it romantic? Are you these things, and is your business representative of these things?

Via Pinterest.com

Via Pinterest.com

[dropcap]3[/dropcap]Step three is to decide if you have the skills to attempt this feat on your own, or if you should hire a designer. Your designer will likely go through steps one and two again with you (among others), but it helps to have a little bit of knowledge and understanding before meeting with someone, and also to help you know if the designer that you hire is right for you. If you can't afford a designer right now, you can try to go it alone, or even purchase a pre-made design. For longevity's sake, I would probably suggest hiring a designer. Though on the flip side, and back to my original question, it is my opinion that you need to present a brand that has some thought and cohesiveness behind it before you put it out there for the world to see.

So, what's the story behind your brand? Don't just tell us, show us.

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