Branding can be an intimidating process as a photographer that can leave you stuck. Here’s how to brand a business to bring in more clients!
Are you confused about where to begin your branding journey from? Or you’re already branding yourself and your business but would love to know how to do that better and also know things you should or shouldn’t do. This post will cover all the ins and outs of branding for you and your business with Bri Summers.
Briana Summers lives in Des Moines, Iowa and she’s a branding and web designer. Bri owns her design studio, Brighten Made, and has been doing it for the last five years. Before that, she worked in the corporate world and realized it wasn’t for her, and eventually, she made the switch.
How to brand a business
When it comes to branding, everyone always initially thinks of the logo, which is essential. Still, Bri believes branding is much deeper than just your logo, especially with having an online presence and marketing yourself on social media. Branding is about how you’re making people feel.
When people think of your brand design, it’s not the logo. What fonts are part of your brand? These are the fonts that you’re using consistently. What color tones are you using? The illustrations, patterns, and textures begin with the logo and trickle into branding.
With clients who come with a specific design in mind that doesn’t go with their brand image, Bri always encourages her clients to really go into the branding process with an open mind. Because a lot of times, it’s really easy in business to let your personal feelings dictate what your branding and your website should look like.
When it is a personal brand, and when you know you are the face of your brand, your opinion is 100% valid, which is essential because it needs to represent you. If it doesn’t feel like you, then you’re not going to feel super confident. At the same time, you must also ensure that it aligns with your business goals, your audience, and all that.
So know that if it’s not speaking to the right people, it will not be making you any money, and therefore you don’t really have a business. It has to be this balancing act of representing you and also being in alignment with the types of clients that you’re hoping to attract as well.
Connector to bridge the gap
In Bri’s experience, she tries to really get to know her clients because she feels like when you know more of a personal brand, where you are the face of your brand, it needs to all go together. That comes down to knowing yourself from within and understanding who you are and who you’re best for. When you know all that, that’s when branding makes sense because you’re trying to show up strictly and be this professional business.
If your personality is really wild and crazy, and you know you want to attract clients with that same kind of energy, then your branding needs to have that energy as well with it. Figure out who your ideal client is and what type of experience you want to provide them because that’s another thing that many creative entrepreneurs struggle with; how do they make sure that it’s speaking the price point?
An example of a connector
For instance, if you’re a very luxurious photographer, or let’s say you’re not even luxurious, but you’re wild, fun, and crazy, then you also have a high price point. How do you bridge that gap between those two things? This is something Bri struggled with because her design style naturally is a little bit more fun and playful and boho, and a lot of times, she found herself attracting clients who didn’t quite have the budget to work with her.
For her, she needed to elevate her personal brand a little bit more, even though she still loves to show very fun and playful projects. It’s that balance of that it needed to feel expensive, but then at the same time still have her personal taste and touch with it.
With branding, you know you are being true to yourself when the way you dress, your home, and how you are as a person shows. All of this is cohesive with your branding. It doesn’t have to be perfectly matchy, but you know your personal style based on like what colors you like to wear, what’s in your closet, what type of style is that. Is that in alignment with what your current branding is? Because it’ll be much easier for you to show up if it all feels cohesive.
Showing up in a cohesive branded way
Start with figuring out what your style is like and your vibe because many people struggle with that. Developing your style isn’t necessarily like putting yourself in a box where you are in this genre and you have to own it. Bri loves boho, but she doesn’t consider her style just boho.
It’s a mix of different things, and that’s the same with photographers and their styles. Figure out your own personal style. Start by exploring, check Pinterest or Instagram or any social media and save anything that comes to mind and not overthink it. Let it be a gut reaction of, “Oh wow, I love that, there’s something about it that I’m drawn to, ” and put that in your back pocket and then feel it out later.
Once you’ve explored and just taken notice of your surroundings and what you’re drawn to, you can take all of that and start to pull out the things that don’t quite fit. When you narrow it in, you’ll slowly start to see repeating patterns of things you are drawn to.
Try not to convince yourself of your branding style because it’s what other people are doing or what is cool and trendy now; be confident in who you are. When you find that consistent look, people will think that it is so “you”, and they’re reminded of you, and that’s the goal of it. That’s when you’re going to have more of that number ability which will turn into more clients and more people just recognizing your work across all the different things.
Finding brand voice
Start with your audience: who are you trying to attract? Look at your current clients, what ratio of those are ideal clients? And then which ones are not great fits? Then take note of the clients that were ideal fits, or even if you don’t have any clients, just visualize what you think might be your ideal client.
Then from there, think about the types of language and things they would be drawn to and try to keep them at the top of your mind. Simultaneously, make sure that it feels natural for you.
For Bri, in terms of writing copy, a lot of times, it’s easier for her to verbalize it and say it out loud because it feels a lot less sales-like and more like her talking. This can also help you pick up on how you naturally talk, weaving that into the branding. Once you have a scene going, it’s easy to start to play around with phrasing that goes along with it.
As you begin to develop your style and just the overall essence that you want your brand to be, you’ll slowly start to be able to incorporate the language that goes along with it. Saying it out loud will help you know if it feels natural or if you’re forcing this. Keep phrases you often say to friends and family, and then incorporate that into your copy.
It gives it more personality and feels like you’re talking to a friend rather than trying to sell them your services.
DIY in your website and your branding
When it comes to DIY, be careful not to overdo it and waste a lot of time and energy that you could use to improve other aspects of your business that you’re better at. Keep it simple when it comes to DIY because you’re still probably in the early stages of your business. You’re still kind of figuring out the client you want to work with and the overall editing style you want to have and what niche you want, so keep it a little bit more general and broad.
Keep your blinders on, and don’t get caught up in the comparison game on social media. You don’t want to look like what everyone else is doing, even though that’s what feels natural. It makes sense in terms of wanting to be like a certain person, but it doesn’t let you have your unique voice within the marketplace, as we all have our unique gifts and voice. You know the message you can share with everybody.
Lean into your unique voice to break out your brand. If you find yourself imitating someone, just unfollow them or mute them. Do whatever you can to keep the blinders on because there’s nothing that could be healthier than just looking the other way, so you don’t get caught up in the comparison game.
Trying to rebrand
Look for inspiration in other places than just what your industry is doing. It’s easy because you often want to look at what your industry is doing. If you’re a photographer, you’re going to look at what other photographers are doing, but challenge yourself to look for inspiration outside of other photographers, brands, and websites. That’s where things could be different.
Stand out because everything starts to look the same when everyone looks at each other within the same industry. There are other places you can find inspiration that is design related. Also, figure out what you are drawn to within other designs. It could be a piece of art. Keep asking yourself why and it will allow you to get a little bit clear on what about it you’re drawn to, and never try to replicate what other people are doing.
Branding mistakes to avoid
The biggest mistake even people who don’t have branding or have never worked with a designer before or even if they have, is they have to stop using Canva templates. They are great as a starting point, but everyone’s using the same ones over and over, and it’s like the whole point of hiring a brand designer or settling on your branding is to use that branding.
So you want to be consistent with the colors you’re using, the fonts, the illustrations, the patterns or textures, or whatever it is that makes up the essence of your visual brand identity. If you’re hosting a workshop or something, people want to see your branding elements because that’s what’s going to be memorable for someone who sees millions of things on Instagram every day.
Rather than changing your font or colors every second because that gets confusing for your audience and isn’t memorable, the biggest thing for you should be consistency. Canva is an amazing tool! Start your design from scratch or find something and add your branding to it. Don’t just use the template that’s already made. Beyond that, don’t be afraid to have some negative spaces within your composition. Also, use the right dimensions for the story graphics. Rather than taking a square and putting it on your story, keep spatial proportions and negative space. And stick with it!
People should utilize Canva. But if they’re going to use the premade design template, make sure they use their brand colors. Have all your branding uploaded into Canva so that you’re consistently using it. People will just go to Canva and use a premade template without incorporating their branding into it.
Biggest benefit between DIY and Graphic designer
DIY is always going to look DIY unless you have some sort of graphic design background. You’re also going to be spending much time on it and end up changing it in a year. It’s like, what’s the point? From a financial standpoint, if you’re not there in business yet, there’s nothing wrong with DIY. You should DIY at the beginning, 100%. But if you want to take your business to the next level and know time is more important, bringing in a designer can help elevate your experience.
If you want to come across as a high-end photographer or charge more, you have to have the branding and the website to back that. And to back up your pricing and customer journey. So it depends on your business goals and where you’re at within your business.
When it comes to creating your own stuff, you’re not always going to be confident in it. So branding and rebranding, and hiring a designer can give you unexpected confidence and a return on your investment because of that confidence. You also look more legit.
Branding can seem intimidating, but just make it all about you and unique to your personality and that will make all the difference!
Be sure to check out more Gold Biz Podcast episodes here!