As a photographer, having distinctive and recognizable photography branding is essential to your business.
What makes effective branding for photography can be hard to pin down though. And that’s exactly what this article will help you with.
Create a brand that reflects who you are as a photographer and will help you grow your business.
Why Is Branding So Important?
In the age of the Internet, how others perceive you and your style is heavily influenced by what they see online and through social media.
We all know good branding when we see it.
Look at the websites and other marketing collateral of your favourite photographers or influencers. You’ll most likely encounter a very specific and cohesive branding message.
Everything looks put-together. When you look at their images and feeds, you can instantly recognize the style as being theirs.
This polished look is what you should strive for when it comes to your own photography business branding.
Branding your photography business is about creating a clear, consistent message for your ideal clients. This is what will drive them to buy from you.
When they encounter your website, your images, or any marketing collateral from you, they should have a sense of who you are as person and artist in a way that resonates with them.
Good photography branding should set you apart from the competition. It will mark you as unique in what you do.
Design a Mood Board to Figure Out Your Style
A mood board is a tool used by designers and commercial photographers when working with advertising agencies and other clients.
A mood board is a collection of images gathered into a collage. It ensures that everyone on a project is on the same page about the desired end result.
You can use one to find your style and the “mood” of your business.
There is that old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words. When it comes to branding, this is very true.
Words like “fun” and “bold” are abstract and mean different things to different people. Visuals have more of an impact.
Take time to create a mood board. Choose images that represent the colours, fonts, and overall mood you want people to associate with your photography.
Pinterest and Canva are free and a great place to start when creating a mood board.
You can also create a physical mood board by cutting images out of magazines and pasting them onto a large piece of poster paper.
For more information about how to create a mood board, take a look at this article.
Use Key Words to Identify Your Brand
I just said that visuals are more powerful than words. But that doesn’t mean that language is unimportant when it comes to exploring and expressing your brand.
You should also come up with some words that sum up your style.
Words like “bold”, “clean”, “minimalistic” are a few examples.
Think of at least three words that describe your photography. Consider them each time you are choosing images for your photography portfolio or social media.
We often have an emotional association with some of our favourite images. But these are not always the best images to represent our body of work. Applying a few keywords when culling your images will help you stay consistent in your brand story.
Choose Thematic Colours and Fonts
When preparing any marketing materials, business cards, invoice templates, and your website, it’s important to stick to consistent choices in colour and fonts.
You may find that this changes as you go through the branding process. If possible, try to settle on a couple of colours for your brand early on and stick to them.
There are a variety of ways to approach this. You can go neutral, which is always understated and classic. Or you can choose your favourite colours, or colours that have a special meaning for you.
A great idea is to do some research about how different colors are interpreted psychologically.
For example, red is the colour of passion of drama. It’s associated with strong emotions like anger.
Yellow conveys youthful, fresh energy. And green is associated with health, growth, and renewal.
When choosing your fonts, be aware that when white typography is applied to a black background, it has been shown to create eye fatigue. Black font on a white background is more preferable.
Quick tip: don’t mix serif and sans serif fonts together. This is a no-no in the graphic design world.
Invest in a Logo to Draw Potential Clients In
Without a doubt, a good logo is crucial to branding any successful business. Just ask Apple or Nike.
These logos have a very powerful symbolic association connected to people’s memory.
A distinctive photography logo does more than tell the audience the name of your business. It acts as a visual symbol for it.
If you’re serious about your photography business, research companies that specialize in logo design. Invest in one that will create a high quality identity for you.
This will come at a bigger price tag than going on Fiver or another website where you can get a cheap logo made, but it’s worth it.
There is a marked difference visually between cheap logos and those that have been made with care by designers that specialize in branding. Often there is a whole discovery process. This includes a creative brief that starts before any design is attempted.
A logo subconsciously telegraphs to the viewer what they can expect from you and your business. If you can’t afford to invest when you start your photography business, then research your options. Many designers offer freelance services at a lower price, as well.
In the beginning, having the cheaper option in the header of your website is still better than the default that most template web page builders come with.
Focus Your Marketing Efforts on One Photography Style
One big mistake photographers often make early in their careers is that they try to be all things to all people.
Maybe they really want to focus on wedding photography. But they take on corporate events, family portraits, and personal branding headshots to pay the bills.
That is understandable. The important thing is that photography that doesn’t line up with your goals shouldn’t be a part of your portfolio or marketing efforts.
In short, it’s not part of the brand.
The same goes with any images that are not part of the tightly controlled aesthetic you want to present to the world.
The photographs that brand you should have a consistent style, despite any variety in subject matter.
For example, as a food photographer, I am recognized for my dark and moody style of photography.
However, I cannot just do dark and moody shots. The mood is not suitable for a lot of subjects. And the majority of my commercial clients are not looking for this style, even though they may be drawn to it.
Whether my photography is dark, with a lot of shadows and mystery, or bright and airy, there are still many common elements. That’s what makes it recognizable as my work.
Some of these elements are dramatic lighting, a lot of contrast, and saturated colours.
Study your photographs and identify what makes them unique. What are the common themes that appear from image to image?
Those elements are what you want to hone in on, and emphasize in your branding and any promotion of your work and portfolio.
Focus Your Marketing Efforts on Your Ideal Client
Not everyone can be your client nor should they be. Your message should be tightly focused on the actual people you want to be working with.
Strong photography branding shows that you have invested, time, money, and resources into creating your business. It gives the sense of a solid foundation and inspires trust.
You may have a great portfolio. But if your branding is weak or inconsistent, it can keep you from getting noticed by potential customers.
On the other hand, great branding that sets you apart from your competitors will make people remember your name and associate it with your imagery.
No matter how saturated the industry is with photographers, there will always be work for you. If people remember your brand.
All along I have been saying that your brand is about you and a reflection of you. But it’s also about your client.
Your branding needs to reflect your target audience.
I’m a food and lifestyle photographer with a style that is bold and dramatic. I know that my images are not going to appear in Kinfolk anytime soon.
Are you a wedding photographer who does a lot of black and white photography or shoots a lot of unconventional weddings? You may not find your dream clients in women who are looking for the pastel, fine art approach of Jose Villa.
Your branding should be a balancing act between your business personality and the needs of the clients you wish to serve.
Create an Experience to Increase Customer Loyalty
Ultimately, your photography branding creates an experience for your clients and goes beyond your portfolio.
It also comes through in your choice of dress, in your email exchanges, and in the way you engage with clients in person or over the telephone.
Everything you do in your business is part of your brand. Consider this when you are speaking to your clients or taking too long to edit the final product.
The way you move through your business is a big contributor to how clients perceive you. And it affects the likelihood of them hiring you again.
Trying to fit in or emulate what other people in your niche are doing is the quickest way to get left behind.
Standing out in a positive way with consistent branding that speaks to your target audience will help you get a foothold in your market. You’ll earn the loyalty of the clients you most want to work with.