When you hear the word “brand,” you might think of companies like Nike, Target, or Magnolia; but as a business owner it’s important to break down what makes up a brand, or rather, branding.
A great way I’ve heard branding described is, “what someone says about your business when you’re not in the room.”
Typically you’ll notice branding involves a specific logo (or in fact, a set of logos), fonts, colors, etc. These visual aspects all have non-quantifiable aspects that have psychological associations we may not even be aware we’re making. A brand with minimalist designs, large letter spacing, and muted colors tends to give us a more luxurious feel; while bright colors and charismatic fonts make us think a brand is more fun and casual.
Here’s a an exercise to do if you’re unsure what feeling people associate with your business:
Ask 5 people who know you well (highly suggest not all of them being in your same industry) to describe you in 5 words (this’ll be relevant later). Also ask them to describe your business in 5 words.
Now take those 5 words and look at your business. Do those 5 words match how you want your business to be perceived? If yes, then you’re on the right track. If not, then some adjustments need to be made.
Things to consider when developing your branding:
What do you offer?
Who would have the best experience working with you? Or, who is your ideal client?
Why do you do what you do?
It’s important to have an awareness of your brand’s perception because the branding will educate clients, even subconsciously, of what to expect from your business, and will attract clients with similar sensibilities.
It is incredibly important when using your brand, that you remain consistent. If your color palette is pale pink and blues, then you should not create a burnt orange graphic in Canva just because fall’s coming up–it wouldn’t align with your brand and your clients would subliminally see that as untrustworthy. Oof hard-hitting isn’t it?
Consistency is important in-person too. What are you wearing when you meet with clients or when you’re working? Work to infuse your branding into your wardrobe–and ya don’t have to stop with color. When many of our brides meet me for the first time, I am wearing a green, floor length tulle skirt and a black top with just a touch of puffy sleeves; odds are I’m probably swishing it around too. Why? Because green is one of my brand colors, but also because I want clients to know that my work, or brand, is a little dramatic, whimsical, and fun.
Two Branding Paths
Now there are two paths you can opts to follow when presenting your business–personal and business. It’s easy to position yourself with personal branding when you’re a one person show, but what if you have a whole team? Or if your business isn’t based on a sole person, like a wedding venue? In these situations it’s easy to just plop in the business branding style and never add that dose of personal branding, which is fine; but what if you could reap the benefits of a more personalized branding presentation?
Personal branding reaps the benefits of being relatable, giving the audience the feeling of knowing you and therefore a sense of comfort–don’t we all think we could go to dinner with Chip and Joanna Gaines know exactly how the two would act?
People connect with people, and with stories, so let’s add some of that to your business branding!
Everyone loves a peek behind the curtain, even if we don’t understand really what’s going on, we like to watch the work before the completion. Show your team having a meeting, share your process before a wedding day or consultation. Pop on stories and share why you enjoy what you do.
But Rebekah, I don’t want to show my face on camera! You don’t have to. Maybe that team meeting is just all the coffee cups waiting to be picked up–because you love drinking an iced coffee, especially when it supports a local business (make sure you mention those parts!).
Do share professional photos of your team, tell us a bit about them. Why? So when potential clients meet with you, maybe they’ll recognize one of your team members and remember they loved to go jogging with their dog, cause guess what, that client has a dog too! Those little intros and photos will help potential and current clients feel familiar and therefore more comfortable with your business.
This is a concept from my photography mentor Katelyn James. The idea that personal details you share will resonate with your audience, and they will begin to associate those things with your business. Maybe it’s your labradoodle, your plant collection, that you only wear jade green; it could literally be anything. The trick with brand boosters is to experiment. Instagram Stories are great for this; did you get a bunch of responses to the video of your cat? Share more of your cat, they might just become a big marketing tool for you. Why? Because a person may not be your potential client, but they like following your for you cat and they probably know someone who could be your client.
You Need Branding Photos.
Please note the period in title above, cause no ifs, ands, or buts, in the age of websites and social media, you need branding photos.
So how is branding photography set apart from headshots? Bringing a branding photographer to your business is like bringing a wedding photographer into your wedding. They assess the theme, learn what’s important, and find the story. Beyond a photo from your collarbone up, branding photos depict in an aesthetically pleasing fashion how your business ticks–in alignment with how your branding presents (don’t worry, we won’t capture you in your old sweatshirt and messy bun working on the couch; unless of course, it’s relevant…).
The “B roll” content created in your branding session allows you another avenue to visually control the narrative of your business. Especially for wedding vendors–or other professions which largely showcase work they’ve created for others–I want YOU (or your business) to shine. Have professional images that are clean and artful, which actually make your amazing wedding work stand out more.