Branding your photography business – What are your options?

In recent months, I have started working with a number of aspiring professional photographers, or those at the start of their photography journey, and as an Ex Marketing and Brand Manager and I am often asked my thoughts on how they should go about developing their visual brand identity.

So, of all people, shouldn’t I know how to brand myself?

I have been a professional photographer for the last 3 years, but before I changed careers I worked in Marketing and Brand Management for 13 years. I managed some really interesting brands, including Green & Blacks chocolate (not good for my waistline), Texaco Motor oils (A lot more fun than it actually sounds, as I travelled all over the world with the Formula 1 Powerboat team) and a well know toilet roll brand (best I don’t go into too much detail).  So I ask myself, why is it that I have found it so challenging to come up with my own visual brand identity, and why has it taken me nearly 3 years to get here?

It’s a question I have been pondering, and what I have come to realise is the brands I worked with all had a very clear brand proposition, and vision for the future, whereas I have still been developing mine. And most importantly – that is OK.

The longer I spend in this industry the more I realise it is one long journey of discovery where you never stop learning. It’s a process – you identity your next challenge, work at it, work at it some more, until you get good or even great at it. Then finally, when you are consistently delivering the shots that you want, and are able to put all your technical worries aside, you start ask the question “Is this I really want to do, and do I feel passionate about it?” I have now photographed bumps, babies, children, families, events, a small amount of fashion and commercial and weddings.

Therefore, it is only in recent months, that I have been able to say with some confidence, how exactly I want to position myself. I know my ideal client, I know the type of session I would like to deliver, and I know how I want to edit and present my work. I am bright and colourful, bold and strong lines, laughter and expression. Finally, I have felt happy investing a considerable sum of money in a designer to develop my visual brand identity.

 

Options for developing your brand identity, no matter your budget

There are a number of big training associations which advocate investing a large sum of money very early to define your brand, and I think for those who are able to do that, it a great exercise to go through. The issue I have come across is that not all photographers are able to commit that amount of money upfront. The ones I know are often part time (with kids at home) or working another full time job and starting to portfolio build at the weekends. So if you fall into this category what are your options?

 

1. The DIY Logo

This is certainly where a lot of new photographers start by designing their own logo in Photoshop. If you have a natural design eye, this could be an option, but I have to be honest I tried and failed miserably. Adding non-standard fonts can certainly help your logo to look more bespoke and there are lots of free fonts available if you search online. www.dafont.com/

 

2. Take an off the shelf brand package or logo, and tailor it to fit your needs – Budget £20 – £99

When I first started portfolio building, and needed a logo, this was what I did. Esty (www.etsy.com) has an incredible amount of designers who sell their logos and branding packages. Some are off the shelf, meaning that they could sell that logo over and over again to different photographers, whereas others you can pay to develop to further develop a design that you have seen and liked.  It is also a very interesting exercise to see what is currently popular in photographer’s logo design as it does change every few months (watercolours, hand drawn florals and metallic are featuring heavily at the moment). Take some time to look at the different designs, favourite any you like and look to see what patterns are emerging in your choices. If you find a particular designer you like, look around their shop as they may have other options which didn’t appear in the original search. Any alternative site is www.fivrr.com

 

3. Use a WordPress or Showit based template to give you an initial design look and feel  – Budget £200- £400

There are a couple of major companies offering blog site and portfolio system for photographers all in one. You really do not need any prior web skills to learn to use this system and they do give a 110% Money back guarantee which is nice. Included in the package are 14 free starter designs, but you can go on to buy add on designs from only £60. A number of the templates have matching brand kits including logo, colour palette, fonts, and stationery and social media items. It is also a great way to find a designer that you like should you want to invest in a bespoke brand identity (to be covered in option 4).  There is a bio on each designer and a link to their website. The added advantage of this option is you can build your own website and can teach yourself WordPress. The templates are also open to a degree of customisation so you can choose a base that fits you and work from there. http://www.prophoto.com/ http://www.zenfolio.com/

 

4. Invest in an established Designer or Agency to develop your own bespoke brand identity .Budget £1000+

I chose to work with Melissa Love (www.melissalove.co.uk) who is well known in photography circles, having followed her work for the best part of 6 months and chatting to some other photographers who had worked with her. I chose her because I believed she would work hard to understand me, and deliver a unique, recognisable identity. Yes, I would love to be incredibly trendy and super high end but that really isn’t me. I am premium, yet accessible and I am like the things I have in my home – I like strong graphic prints and lamps from Heals. I like geometrics and lines.

An established designer or agency charges more because they are simply

  1. Spending more 1 on 1 time with you
  2. Exploring what it is that you want to say about yourself – your values and personality.
  3. Turning this into a bespoke physical design including logo, fonts, colour pallets, strap-line etc.

Other designers include Media Novak and Point of Vue Design

Top tips for whichever route you choose..

To conclude, there is a viable option for you to develop your brand identity, no matter where you are in your journey. Whichever option choose here are some top tips:

  1. Be true to yourself. When clients meet you they should feel like the brand is a reflection of you as a person.
  2. Keep it simple. Clients are buying your images and your style, not your fancy logo
  3. Don’t overspend. Photography can be a black hole when it comes to spending so if you plan to invest significantly in your brand identity just be sure you are ready. 

 

Photographers branding

If you would like to learn more about becoming a professional photographer take a look at these articles

– http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-know-you-are-ready-to-become-a-professional-photographer/

http://petapixel.com/2013/06/25/how-i-transitioned-from-being-a-hobbyist-to-being-a-pro-photographer/

Nina Mace is a Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire Photographer who specialises in babies, children & families. Along with her family photography she also offers Beginners Photography Training for Parents and mentoring for aspiring professionals. www.ninamacephotography.comwww.facebook.com/ninamacephotography

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