“The definition of branding is the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” (Entrepreneur – Small Business Encyclopedia 2017)
Beyond having a memorable logo, business card, website or social media platform, good branding increases the value of the business giving you, your staff and your clients the exact direction in which you want them to go. Your brand should and will be a roadmap leading your clients and potential clients to the product lines and services you want to sell and offer.
A brand name has been defined as “the symbolic embodiment of all the information connected with a company, product or service. It also encompasses the set of expectations associated with a product or service which typically arise in the minds of people.” (Aggarwal 2018) With this in mind, one can come to the conclusion that you, as the artist, business owner, studio employee, etc. become a big part of the brand and will be identified as the brand itself as your business grows and finds more success. So, your brand is not just a pretty logo. It is everything that you share, create and use to promote your business. This could certainly be your portrait work, your social media or website blogs, and it is most certainly the partnerships you develop with local charities and like-minded businesses in your market area. Your brand can and will set the tone for so many preconceived ideas right out of the gate. It might be sharing exactly what you would like for them to think about your business, but it might not.
For example, if you want to sell fine art black and white wall installations and your brand is earth tones, giving potential buyers the impression that you are an environmental portrait artist, right out of the gate your brand has caused confusion. Unfortunately, confusion does not usually lead to sales. You have to make sure it is exactly what you want to do and who you are as a creative small business owner.
In today’s world, your target client buys a brand first and quality second. Quality is simply not enough. It is so easy for us, as professional photographers, to take for granted that we are creating quality images. We are selling ourselves short if we do not capitalize on the things that set us apart from the competition around us. It is important to establish a unique look or style that makes your images recognizable as a product of your studio business. This will become your studio’s brand name.
“If you give consumers a reason to care and feel something about your brand, they have a reason to buy. Most people make purchasing decisions based on emotions, not logic, so create an emotion in your prospects every time they see your brand.” (Bruce 2016)
The five reasons to turn your product into a Brand Name:
1. A successful brand name demands a premium price and garners greater name recognition. A Louis Vuitton handbag is not necessarily better than any other leather handbag, but the perception of quality and elegance allows them to be sold at a much greater price.
2. Your client reach becomes greater. As your brand name develops and grows, so will your market area. Clients from outside your area will be more likely to use your services if you have a brand name which has proven desirable to others, and they would be willing to drive greater distances to have access to you and your services.
3. You will stand out amongst your competition. A distinctive photography style and image will be recognizable to those who see your work. This is, of course, your BRAND!
4. You will reduce your advertising costs. When you have secured a brand name in your market area, clients will come to you to own the brand name product. This will allow you to forego more traditional forms of advertising, such as direct mail, print advertising, etc. and rely on more word of mouth, charitable marketing or other partnership plans.
5. You will streamline your business. As your brand grows, so will the top products and services that you truly want to sell. This usually means that you are able to shift your sales and camera room focus to only selling those products and move away from selling the lower margin, higher production items that are usually not as profitable, more time-consuming and higher cost items. This allows you to concentrate fully on the products and services you want to sell and eventually cut out all of the leaner products that you no longer want to offer.
“No matter what size they are, the most successful businesses are the ones that have established themselves as a leader in their industry by creating a strong brand. And, when these businesses focus on building valuable customer experiences, they easily transform customers into brand ambassadors.” (Bruce 2016)
Mary Fisk-Taylor, MBA, M. Photog., Cr., EA- ASP, CPP, ABI, API
Certified StoryBrand Guide
Profit First Professional and Guide
For almost 25 years Mary Fisk-Taylor has owned a portrait and wedding business with her business partner, Jamie Hayes in Richmond, Virginia. Hayes & Fisk Photography is one of the most sought-after Portrait and Wedding studios in their industry. Mary and Jamie are both incredibly committed to preserving family legacies, professionally capturing and printing portrait and milestone memories. They both believe that these need to be proudly displayed in family’s homes, not living digitally on phones, computers and modern technology. Mary co-hosts the podcast Get Your Shoot Together with Kira Derryberry and has her own consulting company helping other small business creatives be more profitable, sustainable and successful.