I've talked about the importance of building your brand in my articles about attracting high end clients and starting your business , but in this article, we're going to dive head first into it.
I want you to understand why this is so important...
85% of photographers fail when they try to build a business. You read that right - 85%.
A big part of the reason for this is because they don't build their brand. They refuse to niche. At first glance, that seems to make sense. They want to get whatever business they can, but, ultimately, it will spell your demise.
So, how do you build a successful brand?
First, you have to think beyond your logo and colors. We'll talk about colors in this article, but that's only one small part of it.
The single most important part of your entire brand is your WHY Mission.
Everything else about your brand - and your business - revolves around this.
Why do you do what you do? Why did you become a photographer? What do you stand for? What impact do you want to have on your client’s life? How can you represent that through your imagery?
Building a meaningful brand is about knowing what you stand for and what impact you want to have in the world and in your community. It guides everything in your business from your marketing efforts to the products that you offer your clients.
It is also the cornerstone of the partnerships you create and the opportunities you say yes, or no, to. Without it, you’ll find yourself competing on price and not truly building a connection and relationship with your clients. Your clients won’t have a reason to choose you over another photographer in your area…
But when you develop your meaningful brand, you have a NorthStar for your business that becomes your driving force. While everyone else is selling a photoshoot, you are offering a service that has meaning, value, and relevance.
My Own, Personal Example
My WHY Mission is to empower girls. To empower them to be bold. To empower them to be confident. To empower them to see that they are made up of the same essences as Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner. My imagery represents that by being bold, magazine worthy images so they can see their inner model.
Every partnership I forge is about empowerment for girls. Like partnering with One Love Foundation for a cause-based mini session that was designed to help girls see the signs of emotional abuse to empower them to protect themselves. My why drives each aspect of my photography business, as should yours.
The first thing you need to do is define what really drives you in photography. Why do you want this to be your career?
What's YOUR Why Mission?
This will lead you straight into your niche.
Do you want to empower female business owners? Do you want to share the love story of couples? Do you want to shine a light on beautiful blended families?
Now, once you've decided on your niche, does that mean you can't accept jobs outside of that niche?
Yes... and no. You can, but you don't want to be advertising outside of that niche.
Let's put some real numbers behind this for a second... Let's start with a $200 marketing budget...
If you don't niche, your budget would look like this:
$50 goes to seniors…
$50 goes to branding…
$50 goes to maternity…
$50 goes to newborns.
But your competitor, who is niched, have the same $200 and all $200 goes to branding.
Who do you think has the advantage here?
... and the same goes for your time growing your skill set
... and the time you can invest going to events and other networking opportunities
... and the amount of work you have to show when your potential client wants to see your portfolio.
Do you see how this is a compounding effect?
The photography who has niched, has 4xs more of the marketing budget, 4xs more experience with that demographic, show up in the places that audience is 4xs more, and have 4xs more of the images in their portfolio.
They will win every. single. time.
This is the key to making your best stand out...
And every successful business, including Apple and Amazon started in a niched market.
You MUST be willing to get specific so that prospective clients can easily find you.
If you're having trouble narrowing it down, here are 5 quick tips to give you a nudge:
Look through your previous work. What was the best? Where did you really feel in your element?
Experiment with different subjects. This can be the fun part. Explore a little bit. Try out new things to see what fits with you.
Practice. The more you shoot, the more you will know what you like and don't like.
Get back to basics. What shoots did you love that made you want to be a photographer in the first place?
Visualization. What do you see yourself doing in the long run when you imagine yourself in 5-10 years from now?
How Feeling and Color Affect Your Brand
Color gets talked about a disproportionate amount when we're discussing branding, but people often forget the most important part of color. It needs to circle back around to your WHY Mission.
Focus on the feeling you want to promote to clients. This feeling will steer everything from colors to tone, and even fonts.
What do you want your clients to feel when they encounter your brand?
Love? Excitement? Empowered? Bold?
Focus on this, and then find a color scheme that supports those feelings. And yes! Colors create feelings.
Here's a quick cheatsheet, from Canva, into what emotions certain colors can create:
Pink. Pink is obviously most associated with the feminine. It can be soft and romantic. It can be sentimental. But, it can also be bold - such as hot pink. It can suggest youth.
Orange. Like the fruit it's named after orange is the color of freshness and vitality. It's a creative color - adventurous. Curiously, it's also associated with cost-effectiveness.
Yellow. The color of optimism. Yellow is associated with being happy and playful.
Green. Green is the color of nature. It's often used in association with sustainability. Perhaps counterintuitively, it can also suggest prestige and wealth.
Blue. When people see blue, they feel more trusting. They see you as reliable. It's a calming color, but can also be associated with depression.
Purple. Purple is associated with royalty and majesty. It's a powerful color that can be spiritual and mysterious.
Brown. Brown is a down-to-earth color. It's honest. It's frequently used with organic and wholesome products.
White. White is the color of purity. It suggest simplicity, innocence. It can give your branding a minimalist feel.
Black. Sophistication. Elegance. Luxury. These are the moods that black evokes in branding. It can also be sorrowful.
Multicolor. The symbol of unity and openness. This is a create color scheme for capturing the spirit of diversity.
Find colors that support the rest of your brand message. Picking the right one will plant the right seeds deep in your client's mind.
Your Photography Style
There's a lot to be said for trying out every style. I'm not against it, but there is an advantage to focusing your work to a style that makes sense for you.
But, with so many options and so many aesthetics out there, how do you truly find your place?
I'll tell you what I do.
Get a Pinterest account. Create a board where you collect ALL the images you absolutely love. When I say "love," I mean LOVE. If you're not blown away, don't include it.
Now, once you've done that, separate the images into different groups. Here are some of the ones I have:
The light and airy ones.
The backlight ones.
The dark and moody ones.
The ones with a fashion flair.
Use whatever categories work for you. Find what's inspiring.
Then, take a look at your work.
Gather up your favorite images and add them to the group that best matches you.
This method helps you see what styles you're drawn to and what aligns with your natural tendencies.
Again, make sure this aligns with your niche. Dark and moody tones probably don't mix well with newborn photography.
P.S: Don't get discouraged if your work isn't where you want it.
You will grow. In fact, this exercise will help you. It'll help you focus on what you're drawn to instead of trying to learn everything.
I hope you learned a lot about creating your brand. Honestly, I think it's one of the best parts of building your business.
Take your time on this and fully explore what really matters to you.