So you want to start a photography business?
Part II: Creating your brand image.
Personally I’d start with creating a brand image. I had never really thought about sitting down and creating a brand until I started to create this website in January 2014. I knew I wanted to incorporate Fine Art photography, studio work and the gardening and wildlife photography all into one website but I also wanted them to be stand alone elements, so there had to be some cohesion to make it all work but where to start!
When the schedule for The Societies Convention came out 1 name jumped out and I immediately knew who I needed to see. The speaker in question was the lovely Melissa Love, a lady who I had heard of and admired from afar but had never had the pleasure of meeting or hearing speak. Melissa specialises in branding and bespoke web design for photographers and creatives and what she doesn’t know probably isn’t worth knowing.
So, what is a brand?
(n) The promotion of a particular product of company by means of advertising and distinctive design.
What does that really mean?
Well, a brand is a visual way of displaying your identity whether it’s through a distinctive logo, like the Nike tick, or through your chosen font i.e. the font used by coke-a-cola. We all know the signs and symbols and can identify the companies immediately.
When it comes to your branding, you need to create something personal, unique and consistent throughout. This will help you to stand out from other photographers in your area. It will also communicate to your potential clients who you are.
To create your brand you will need to consider:
Colour: Ideally you will have a foundation colour which will be the workhorse of your brand and 2 tones from the same range to compliment. A highlight colour or two is also needed to act as the attention grabber for call to action text.
When selecting your colours you need to bear in mind the type of photography you are selling, for example if you are setting yourself up as a baby photographer choosing black, dark blue or brown won’t gel as easily as if you were to chose baby colours of blue, pink, purple, cream etc.; these can be successful in both pastel and bright forms if used correctly.
Style: This mainly boils down to the fonts you choose. Melissa recommended choosing 3 different ones that work together. A decorative font can be used for the business name or to draw attention, one to be used as a call to action or as a header or sub-header font and the last one to be the general body text font.
Again the style is down to personal preference, some people like cursive fonts, some like bold fonts. whilst others will prefer a handwriting style. Whatever fonts you choose bear in mind the type of photography business you are promoting. A big and bold font may work well with landscape photography but look slightly harsh on a baby portraits studio.
Try to use Google fonts where possible as they are available across the internet. Using a fancy font you have on your computer will not show up on every computer and could result in a potential client only seeing Times Roman in a size 18 font instead of the lovely script are viewing.
A brand statement, or tagline, is also a good idea to have as it can help to consolidate your brand image.
Textures: Textures, shape and pattern are mainly used for the background and controlling the flow of a website.
Elements: Structural elements are needed to break up space during navigation, whilst decorative elements can be used to draw attention to something.
Whilst you many not use every colour, font, texture or element you have included for your brand its a good process to think about and its amazing how the brain works when it has to focus properly.
What did I come up with?
Once I had decided on my various elements I created a mood board, or a visual identity kit as Melissa calls it, in Photoshop to see how it all fitted together. As the base for a new website I was very happy with my efforts. I still think one or two things can be tweaked a little but that’s something I can do on a rainy day.
What do I do with it all?
Once you have your brand identity kit done to your satisfaction what do you do with it? And how will it help you set up the business.
The key to a successful brand is continuity.
The brand identity kit is the keystone of your business brand and the link to maintaining continuity. The next progressive step would be to think about your website but when you look at your brand identity kit you’ll see that half the decision to be made about the website will be looking back at you. The fonts, the tagline, the elements, the textures and the colours have already been thought about and decided. All you need to do is to create some copy text and add some signature images.
You’ll also need to think about stationery – brochures, business cards, letterheaded paper, packaging etc. Again all you need to do is create the templates using the various elements on your brand identity kit. Once clients see the same things being used on your website and your stationery they will soon recognise you visually.
A word of advice about stationery.
When you’re first starting out its very easy to get carried away and order lots of printed materials, and yes I know that the more you buy the cheaper it is. Try to resist the temptation. The chances of a huge stationery order saving you money are pretty slim – why – because you’ll never use it all. You have created your brand identity kit from scratch but as time goes on and you will potentially change your branding a couple of times requiring new material thus making the old stuff useless so why waste money getting too much in the first place. Where possible try to find ways to print smaller runs or print on demand, it can save a fortune in the long run.
I use Moo whenever possible for a couple of reasons:
The print runs are smaller so I can order exactly what I need without waste.
They have a unique system enabling me to have a different design on the front of every item. It’s great to be able to offer each client a choice of designs, they’re like a mini collection in their own right.
They hold previous orders on their systems meaning that I can re-order with a couple of clicks and not have to reload the whole order again from scratch.
A few people ask if creating a brand identity kit or a mood board is essential and I guess in many ways it’s not. However, as you can see, a little time spent thinking about your brand, what you want to represent yourself and how you want clients to perceive you is worth it, it also saves you time further down the line.
A few things to remember are:
- Don’t brand shop i.e. copy others
- You’re brand is not for everyone and not everyone will like it
- Expect your brand to change and grow
Get it right and people will remember you.
“Your dream brand already exists, you just need to develop it” – Melissa Love
The next blog post looks at creating and designing your website.