Justin and Mary had me quest posting over on their blog last week while they are off doing a workshop in Australia! LUCKIES!!! They asked me to write about my first 3 suggestions for defining a brand when you are just getting started! Their audience is mostly photographers, so I wrote it geared towards that industry. But after re-reading what I wrote I think there are a lot of things to be taken and applied to different industries. So, I thought I would share it with you! Here it goes:
Everything you do in your business is a representation of your brand. How you respond to emails, how you post processes your images, or how you conduct your client meeting can all be a representation of your “brand”. And your visual identity (which is your logo, website, or print materials) will help showcase that brand and tell a brand’s story. So, before you jump straight into the designing phase… you first need to define what your brand IS!! Most people never think to start the process with DEFINING the brand first, and instead start designing blindly almost like attempting to design a book cover before the book has even been written. What happens is the design won’t be a true reflection of the book at all. You will just be shooting in the dark and may end up with a visual identity that represents other people’s expectations, fluff, and trends, rather than encompassing the nitty gritty of who YOU are. So here are my top 3 tips for avoiding that!
￼1 // STUDY YOUR BUSINESS
The first step towards identifying a brand is studying your business. And to study your business you must get experience doing it! Shoot, shoot, shoot, develop a process, work with different types of clients, learn who you are and how you work. You will learn what you love and what you hate about your new business. And all of this information is so important and valuable as you move forward, and you will learn all kinds of things that you would have never guessed otherwise. My main point here is to encourage you to get experience doing what you do, and take however long you need to. In the meantime you’ll still need a way to present your work. So I would suggest a very simple website that puts the focus on your work and not on any particular graphics.
2 // COME UP WITH A GAME PLAN
Now that you have gained experience and studied your business. You have learned all kinds of things about your self and about your business. So, USE those things to your advantage. Identify and decide upon the key components in your business that make you unique and different. This is where your “brand” starts to take shape. Here are a few questions that might help you articulate your unique point of view: What are you passionate about in your business? What makes you different from your competitors? What are you most confident in in your business? Now, how can you creatively push that forward or up a notch? Can you specialize in any of these things? Take some of these traits and make them the focus in your business. For example: If you are most confident in your interactions with your clients… why not flip over to video mode and capture some of the fun you are having at each shoot?!? Make these short videos a fun staple in your business for clients to look forward too. That way you are building upon your strength and pushing it forward and up a notch for people to really take notice.
3 // SHOWCASE IT
Now this is where the visual fun comes in. Obviously my favorite part….because I’m a designer. Now that you have done all the hard work, you have gained experience, and written the book… you are now ready to design the book cover. The main goal here is to showcase everything you learned in phase 2 while representing your personal style and attracting your dream clients. Start this step by collecting visual inspiration that represents YOU and your personal style. And when you are ready… send everything to your hired professional designer. Be sure to collect and curate items that mean something to you… not just random items that you found on Pinterest. Pinterest is a great resource for inspiration… but I would encourage you to know what you are looking for when you log on! Here are several ways to curate items that are unique to YOU! 1 // Browse your closet for suggested color schemes, patterns, and overall style. Jot them down then hit Pinterest with your list. 2 // Create a personal profile that includes everything about you and pull out words that have visuals associated with them. For Example: Let’s say you love making crafts. Explore the different craft supplies that you use on a regular basis. Feathers? glitter? fabric? lace? buttons? etc. Jot those down and then hit Pinterest with that list as well.
I hope some of these tips have helped! You will find that your brand will always be changing, evolving, and growing. And that’s what you want and need from your business. By approaching your brand by defining it before you try to design it, you can make sure that your brand is always a reflection of you as you grow & evolve with it.