To differentiate yourself from others in your industry you need to know what makes up a brand.
So… What is a brand?
A brand is not just a logo or a color…it’s many elements that go into making you and your business distinct from others who are also in the same business or industry. How you present yourself or more importantly, how people perceive you is your brand. If you want people to perceive you as you want them to – you need to make your brand a visual representation of YOU!
A brand is about connection. It brings all the pieces together that make up your brand and takes it to a personal level that provides a connection to your target audience. Marketing on social media, a website, networking events and for printed materials, potential clients get to know you and become more comfortable toward you and your brand. This is the start to building client relationships.
"Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room."
Jeff Bezos - CEO of Amazon
To bring your brand to your target audience you will need professional images that provide a visual representation of you at your best, in a relaxed, but professional environment whether onsite or in the studio. They get the ball rolling for all your marketing needs.
To get you started, I created the following steps to help you realize the identity of your brand.
Step 1 - This can be the hardest step when you take the time to identify the intent of your brand which becomes the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW. As the details become clearer, your brand comes to life.
Step 2 - Next, develop a marketing plan to determine the photo requirements for the content to bring to your target audience.
Step 3 – If you don’t know where to start, create a vision or mood board. Pinterest is a good place to create a board, but I like to use a foam board and cut out photos and sayings that represent me for a couple reasons. First, a brand takes thought and scouring for photos shows clearly what you like and don’t like. It gives you time to think about what it is you like or don’t like in the photo and as you go through this process your brand solidifies itself in your brain. With Pinterest sometimes we click and save quickly, that we don’t give ourselves time to really evaluate the photo. The second reason is that I like to see my vision board every morning before I start my day. It’s subliminal motivation and it gives me a boost before I head out the door.
Step 4 – Driven by steps 1 and 2: brand identification and your marketing plan, a shot list can be developed to ensure your photo shoot meets your needs and more importantly, your expectations. This also ensures you make the most of your time at the shoot. I've included an example of a partial shot list:
• Head Shots
• Action shots
• At work shots/on location
If you plan on using props to emphasize your brand, they should be included in your shot list. For example, a personal trainer might have hand weights. Hair choices and makeup are props and need to fit in with your brand’s style. For a personal trainer, a woman could wear her hair in a ponytail. Makeup can be worn but more natural than if your brand is edgy, where a bold red lip or bright, colored highlights in your hair would be appropriate. Each prop should add personality to your photoshoot and illustrate your brand’s story. Include all the elements you want to use in your shot list.
By researching what you want for a shot list and then working with your photographer on your desires, the chances for success are very good that you will get what you want out the photo session. Don’t forget to add a few shots emphasizing something personal about you. This shows that there is more to you than just business.
Step 5 – You will want to plan your outfits carefully since they communicate to your audience who you are, what you stand for and your brand’s message. Also, choose clothes and accessories that compliment your brand colors.
• Choose 2-3 outfits to show variety, but also represents your brand. Whether a personal trainer, or real estate agent, choose clothes that are more casual or business-like based on your career. Also incorporate your brand colors into your clothing choices.
• Stick to solid colors and avoid large patterns and logos. If you want, you can add a splash of color to provide interest to the outfit.
• Try your clothes on before the shoot, to ensure they fit and look like you want them to look. You will also want to be comfortable in them while shooting, this will help make you feel more relaxed during the session.
Step 6 – Finally, nothing shows that you are serious like hiring a professional photographer who provides high-quality images for their clients. It’s best to have a consultation with them to make sure it’s a compatible relationship and that they are onboard with your brand ideas. Just like anything else you should research to find one that is a fit for you and your brand.
It takes time to discover what you want your brand to say to clients when they think of you. Perception is reality to clients. If you take the time, your brand will knit all the pieces together to bring a personal level to connect to your target audience through your marketing channels. I wish you well on your path to your brand discovery.