Differentiating your photography business, part 2: It’s about more than branding

Written on April 27, 2011 by in Business savvy, For photographers only

This post is the third in a series sharing my thoughts about the state of the wedding and portrait photography industry and how we can all work together to make it better.

There has been a lot of talk in the portrait and wedding photography industry lately about how differentiating yourself is the key to success. That idea is spot on, and I think we all want to do just that. But how?

Most suggestions I’ve heard focus on branding, with an emphasis on developing consistent brand icons such as your logo, packaging and signature colors. But how can you craft a unique and meaningful brand when you don’t know what you stand for? When you haven’t considered your motivations or acknowledged your personal vision? Simply put, you can’t. Without knowing the answers to these questions, and using them to guide the development of your brand strategy, your brand will be an empty shell. It will not distinguish your work in a meaningful way, and thus will ultimately fail.

In reality, the development of your brand and its icons should be the last step you take to distinguish your business. Unfortunately, it is given the lion’s share of the attention, probably because it’s the easy part. The hard part (and the most valuable) is figuring out why you work the way you do, what you stand for, and how to relay that message to prospective clients in a way that they can understand and appreciate.

Courtesy of MommyandMePhotography.com

After you’ve done that and it’s truly time to brand, where do you begin? One workshop I attended said that “your brand is you.” That’s great, but what does it mean? Who are you? If you ask yourself that question, you will find myriad possibilities. For example:

I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, a world traveler, a consultant. I love jewelry, I hate math, I love sports cars and I try to eat healthily but I’m a sucker for dark chocolate. I like the mountains but I’m happiest sitting beside the sea, listening to the waves crash along the shore.

Have any of these answers gotten me closer to my brand? Maybe, but how would I know? I certainly can’t include all of these facets of myself in my brand; if I did, it would be confusing and ultimately meaningless. And yet, they’re all part of who I am. Is it any wonder that it can be difficult to identify which elements of ourselves are integral to our brand?

A brand is the exclusive idea that is attached to your business or product. A brand is supported by your brand values, messaging and a small collection of brand icons that represent your company to your clients and the community. As it is impossible to summarize the complicated nature of you in only one idea, you must distill yourself and your motivations into a more manageable collection of values, vision and stylistic attributes. Only then can you craft a coherent, authentic brand that differentiates your business from the thousands of others working in your industry or market.

Check back tomorrow for an explanation of my Art Aligned framework, which provides a new methodology for differentiating yourself with authenticity, in a way that will stand the test of time.

Cheers,
Kate

This post is the third in a series about the wedding and portrait photography industry. You may also be interested in:

  1. State of the industry: Portrait and wedding photography
  2. Differentiating your business, part 1: Why the old ways no longer work
  3. Differentiating your business, part 2: It’s about more than branding
  4. A new framework for business success
  5. How to differentiate authentically + consciously


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8 Comments

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  2. […] Differentiating your business, part 2: It’s about more than branding […]

  3. […] Differentiating your business, part 2: It’s about more than branding […]

  4. […] about how you are your brand or your brand is you. That’s such an oversimplification, and I hear it way too often. We are much too complex to be our brands, but elements of who we are do need to be incorporated […]

  5. […] — experience, technical skills and client service — are no longer enough. The latest buzz on differentiating yourself via your brand is too little, too late. So, what […]

  6. […] Differentiating your business, part 2: It’s about more than branding […]

  7. […] about how you are your brand or your brand is you. That’s such an oversimplification, and I hear it way too often. We are much too complex to be our brands, but elements of who we are do need to be incorporated […]

  8. […] Differentiating your business, part 2: It’s about more than branding […]


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