This Is Why You Need a Photography Brand

This Is Why You Need a Photography Brand

If you’re trying to build your photography business, having a brand is essential to your success. Here’s why you need to focus on building your photography brand.

The idea of branding your photography business may seem strange, considering the term “brand” is usually associated with big corporations like Apple, Microsoft, or Starbucks. Because of this (erroneous) association, photographers who are starting to build their businesses often don’t understand the importance of having a strong brand, or why they should focus on creating one. The simple fact of the matter is that you need a robust brand for your business in order to stand out to potential photography clients.

The Importance of Branding

A brand is so much more than a business name or logo. Your brand is what a person thinks of when they see your work. Your brand is everything you do that is client-facing whether that be your actual photography, your website design and copy, your social media presence, and how you choose to portray yourself and personality in any public space. Whether you know it or not, you as a business owner are giving off cues to potential clients. Defining your brand will help you send off the right signals so you can book your ideal clientele. 

Knowing that branding does not just apply to companies that are already successful, you can probably start to see that you’ve established somewhat of a brand while building your business. However, if you haven’t taken the time to develop and evaluate your brand accurately, you’re missing out on opportunities to connect with your target audience.

Why Clients Love a Strong Brand

Branding speaks to people on an almost subconscious level. Today’s consumer is constantly bombarded with subconscious cues to purchase products and services through marketing strategies that use strong branding. Think of a company that has a brand you love. For me, when I think of good branding, I think of Apple. Apple is known for great design, simplicity, and a consistent product. Their products are instantly recognizable, and consumers know what they’re going to get when they purchase an Apple product. The same is true for photographers. If you have a strong brand, clients will love your work, and they’ll enjoy the experience they have with you. 

Adversely, when I mentioned Apple, some of you probably rolled your eyes because you don’t like Apple. That’s the thing about a strong brand, not only does it attract your ideal clientele, but it also subconsciously tells some consumers that your brand is not the brand for them. And that’s OK. You never want to appeal to everyone, because not everyone is an ideal client for you. When your brand is solid, you’ll start to get only the clients you want. The clients you know will love you, your photography, and your brand.

The Foundation of a Strong Brand

For a small business, like photography, your brand begins with you. Your personality plays a huge part in your brand because a photography business is mostly a service-based business. This means that you’ll be spending a good chunk of time with your client, and therefore you want them to like you, you want to be able to connect with them relationally, and you want to give them a great experience. What makes service-based businesses successful is a simple fact that clients know they’ll be getting a great experience. Because of this, your brand has to have you and your personality as its basis. You need to make sure that you include parts of you and your personality by which people can connect. This means getting out from behind the camera and stepping in front of it. You need to allow your clients the opportunity to get to know you before they even ever reach out to you. Having ample amounts of information about you on your website and on social media will help you connect with clients more than your photography ever could on its own. You may not believe it, but people want to know you and what you’re about. They want to know that this person they’re potentially going to hire will be a good fit for them. Don’t rob your potential clients of the opportunity to connect with you on a deeper level by not including your personality within your brand. You are the basis of your brand, don’t forget that.

How to Build a Photography Brand

So then the question remains: how do you build a photography brand? Brand building is not an overnight process and will take you being intentional and spending a good amount of time considering your brand and your ideal client. While there is much involved in brand building, here are a few foundational steps that you need to take to begin building your photography brand.

1. Decide How to Infuse Your Personality Into Your Brand

Building a brand begins by listing all the parts of your personality that you like and that you think clients will love. Knowing the elements of your personality that you’d like to convey to your audience will help you think of ways to start infusing yourself into your business. For more info on including your brand in your personality, check out this article.

2. Know Your Ideal Client

Next, you need to nail down exactly who you think is your ideal client. Knowing your perfect client involves building a client avatar. Client avatars are a detailed description of a fictional person that have all the attributes of whom you think is your ideal client. Knowing basic demographics like age, sex, educational level, income, job title, and the likes and dislikes of your ideal client will help you in deciding how you want to build your brand. For example, because I’m a wedding photographer in Las Vegas, I know my ideal clientele are brides between the ages of 25 and 35, who don’t live in Las Vegas, love traveling (because they’re traveling to my great city to get married), have a college degree, and a higher income (because I specialize in high-end elopements). This already gives me a good idea as to how I will shape my brand. However, having a strong client avatar involves digging deep into whom you think your ideal client is beyond basic demographics. Your avatar can never be too specific, so spend lots of time deciding where your ideal client shops, what brands they love, why they love those brands, what TV shows they’re into, what kind of music they listen to, and so on. 

3. Choose Colors and Fonts That Match Your Brand

The design choices you make for your brand are what will bridge your personality with your work. I use Adobe Color CC whenever I’m trying to find new color schemes for my branding. It’s a handy tool that allows you to see complimenting color schemes. Once you’ve built a strong brand and know the direction your brand is going, you should be able to describe your brand in about three words. You should choose colors and fonts that also match the words you use to describe your brand. For example, if your brand is bold, choose bold colors and sans-serif fonts. If your brand is airy, choose light and airy colors with script and serif fonts. 

4. Create Content That Engages Your Ideal Client

Lastly, once you’ve built a fantastic and unique brand, you want to start creating a consistent stream of content in the form of blog posts, videos, and social media posts that appeal to your ideal client. If you’ve done your due diligence in discovering who your ideal client is through a thorough client avatar, then you’ll know the topics and pain points that they’d be interested in reading about. Not only does this help you to establish your brand with your ideal audience, but it helps to make you an authority within your market. Try creating a list of pain-points that you know your ideal client has, and begin addressing them with educational blog posts.

Branding shouldn’t be this vague idea floating around in the back of your head when considering your photography business. Branding is a central component of any successful business, and that is no different for photography. Next time you sit down to brainstorm your business plan, make sure you’re focusing on your brand and how to improve it so that you set yourself up for success in the future.

Danette Chappell's picture

Danette is a Las Vegas-based wedding and elopement photographer who's photographed over 1,500 weddings and elopements in 14 different states. She has a passion for teaching business and helping other creative entrepreneurs succeed. She also loves cats, Harry Potter, and the occasional video game.

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I was just discussing this with a marketing coworker. There are tons of talented people out there competing in many industries. One of the biggest difference makers for professional success is their brand. A defined and like-able brand will take someone who might not even be "the best" in their profession and catapult them above their competition. It seems to be the same with our personal stuff too. Job interviews, making friends, finding a partner... brand can be more than a company thing.

Fabulous write-up, Danette! I've been walking some students in a coding bootcamp through the personal branding process — it's fantastically encouraging (and a good reminder!) I should walk through the same process for my own photography branding =) thanks for the thoughtful post!

Great article! Lots of useful info there.