October 31, 2012
A rough guide to Branding your business
One of my fundamental aims as a freelance photographer is to draw as much attention to my business as I can, whilst setting myself apart from the competition. My business needs to have an identity: a unique brand. My brand consists of any visible aspects of my business that are accessible to the world, encompassing everything from invoices to my website. Every component must fit as a part of an overall package that is considered and refined. The aim is to present a group of unified components that represent a slick operation generating professional results.
The Nuts and Bolts.
Branding can be viewed as set of rules for the look of the physical components that carry your business name. Your stationary, logo, portfolio, your studio (if you have one), website, blog, business card, advertising, quotes and invoices all need to fit together as one entity. Any one of these components may be seen in isolation and they’re all advertising your business, which makes each and every one of them equally important. Unless you have experience and flair, this is a job for a graphic designer. You may well be able to barter for their services and create contacts in the process.
Keep It Simple.
In many ways your website is the home base for your brand as it is available to speak for you night and day to anyone with a computer. The aim should be to make it easy for people to get a good sense of your business whilst subliminally getting familiar with your brand. KEEP IT SIMPLE! Lead with a headline and kick butt imagery in a stylish layout with lots of negative space. The job of a homepage is to act as an invitation to the viewer to carry on and experience your site. It needs little more than your business name (John’s toy photography) and a deftly written primary statement that defines your business in a few words (sharing you passion). You can elaborate in a secondary statement but keep it to a concise sentence (bringing life to your life’s work). You don’t need to tell your life story. By all means have a page of expanded descriptions about your abilities and experience on your site but not on the front page. “Less is more”. Convoluted design will more than likely repel rather than attract. Oh, and your contact details must be clearly visible from anywhere on the site. It a selling tool.
Lock It In!
Consistency is very important. I can think of a few huge companies who are running logos that have barely changed in decades. Their branding is so powerful that we don’t have to think to connect the brand to the product. Unless you have a huge following keep everything legible. Trendy fonts will date very quickly. Settle on a simple decipherable font and colour for your businesses name that you are happy to stick with for at least a few years. Your “new look” along with your photography is your branding. If you do it well people will immediately associate those elements with your business.
But that’s personal!…?
If I am pitching to a client I will go on line and find out what I can about them to make sure I am adequately prepared for the pitch. Expect your clients to do the same. Regardless of what you would like to think, your social media presence is not separate from your professional image. If it’s on line there is a very good chance it can and will be found. If you post highly opinionated remarks or provocative photographs of yourself, you could well damage the potential your business. Of course, be yourself, but give a lot of thought to who may be interested what you post in the future.
It’s Never Too Late.
Branding should be a priority at the planning stages of setting up your business but it’s often lost under the list of other seemingly more pressing commitments. If you are up and running already you can put the time in to locking down a new look and then launch the rebrand giving you another point of contact with everyone on your database.
Your Big Picture.
Anything that identifies your business is a branding opportunity and should be considered. The influence of branding goes far beyond a fancy logo. It is a trigger for people to think of your business. It’s your business’ visual identity which makes it exceedingly important.
Creating a good impression gives people faith in your abilities and good branding gives the perception of being a safe bet. Everything publicly linked to your name must be part of an articulate and very professional package. The brand you create is Your Big Picture.
Images and text © Andy Rasheed 2012
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