Brand Your Business

©Hayes & Fisk Photography

To have a successful, profitable business, you need a well-defined, effectively communicated brand. Branding goes well beyond having a memorable logo, a well-designed business card, a user-friendly website, and an active social media platform. It’s a guiding light for you, your staff, and clients, a roadmap that leads customers to the product lines and services you want to sell.

According to management professor Pankaj Aggarwal, a brand is “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.” You, as artist and business owner, are a big part of your brand. In fact, you may be identified as the brand itself as your business grows and finds greater visibility.

Your brand is not your logo. It’s everything you share, create, and use to promote your business. It’s your portrait work, your social media posts, your website, and blog. It’s your attitude. It’s the way you treat clients. It’s the partnerships you forge in the community, with local charities, and with like-minded businesses in your market area. Your brand should be intentional, not accidental, because it sets the tone for first impressions. Is your brand making the first impression you want?

If you want to sell fine art black-and-white family portrait wall installations, don’t present a website that’s steeped in earth tones and nature settings. Right out of the gate you’ll be sowing confusion in the minds of consumers, who may think you specialize in environmental portraiture. Confusion rarely leads to sales. Make sure your brand reflects exactly what you want to create and what you want to sell. Make sure it reflects who you are as a photographer and small business owner.

When you’ve secured a recognizable brand in your market, clients will come to you.

Five reasons to put effort in defining and creating your brand:

  1. If you create a successful luxury brand, you can demand premium prices. A Louis Vuitton handbag is not necessarily better than any other leather purse, but the perception of quality and elegance allows it to sell at a much greater price.
  2. Your client reach becomes greater. Clients from outside your area are more likely to use your services if they recognize your brand as desirable to others. They’ll also be willing to drive greater distances to gain access to you and your services.
  3. You’ll stand out among the competition. A distinctive photographic style will be recognizable to those who see your work. This is, of course, your brand!
  4. Advertising costs go down. When you’ve secured a recognizable brand in your market, clients will come to you. This will allow you to reduce paid advertising as you get more word-of-mouth referrals and marketing opportunities linked to charities and other partnerships.
  5. Your business becomes streamlined. As your brand grows, so will the products and services you most want to sell. You’re able to shift your focus to those products and away from the lower-margin, higher-production items that are not as profitable, perhaps even phasing out those products altogether.

As photographers, it’s easy for us to take for granted that we are creating beautiful images we think people will fall in love with. But quality alone is not enough to land the sale. Regardless of product category, consumers often make purchasing decisions based on brand before they get around to discerning quality. We’re selling ourselves short if we don’t capitalize on the things that set us apart from competitors and create desire in the minds of consumers.

Mary Fisk-Taylor is the co-owner of Hayes & Fisk Photography in Richmond, Virginia.

Tags: branding