Branding And Identity
So let's talk about marketing. If the best marketing in the world solves a problem, which is the standard definition from an ad agency marketing perspective. If the best marketing in the world solves a problem, I'm going to give you a freebie here. If you're photographing families and childrens, childrens, and pets, here's the problem. Children grow up too damn fast. (laughs) I mean they just do. I remember when I first had my little baby, everyone went like, "Oh, joy, and it's going to go so fast." But I'm like, "Okay, got it." Everyday is taking like five days, but ... They grow up too fast, and that's the pinpoint you want to meet. That's the magic. Photography stops time. That's what you market right there. I mean, we have such a clear objective. They grow up too fast, it's painful, photography stops time, it's nostalgia, it's this wonderful bundling of everything that people want, but don't necessarily know that they need. And it's your job to show them why they need it. It's your...
job to say, this is what I can do and I can that for you. Let me show it in a way that's very tailored to what I want you to see, and I'm going to reach out to you in a consistent manner so I can bring you in and I can do that. This branding and identity, we touched on this earlier. This, who are you, what do you want people to say about you? Figuring this part out is massive, because again, if you're just looking at what everybody else is doing, you're not going to stand out. This branding and identity means that you say, and I mean write it down, I would love for you to have two lines that are really clear. Two clear lines about what your style is, how you present your work, what the customer experience is, and how you see yourself from a value perspective in the market in terms of pricing. That's what you want. You want to start right there for branding and identity. Getting those two lines down, unless you've already locked it down and figured it out. But this part is crazy, crazy important, and you hear it a lot. Like, I need to know these things as determinations. Because, your reward for doing this effort. Your reward that you get from the market, is that they now see you as the people who do exactly what you want them to see you as. That's branding. Branding is your reward. You can set your identity. You can put out your logos and this and that. But the actual brand is achieved when other people recognize you for that. I'm going to say that again. So your identity is you determining who you are and what you do. That whole exercise where you say, I want other people to know this about me. I'm going to be proactive about making sure that this is how they view me, and your brand is reward you get when the market actually sees you that way. These are not all the same things. And if you approach them all separately, you're going to be significantly more effective. So your brand, clear, unambiguous, very straight forward. I don't photography everything in the world. I photograph children very, very well. I photograph families very, very well. I photograph pets very, very well. Whatever it is. Some people get even more narrow than that. They say I photograph children eight to 11. I photograph teenagers only. I only photograph newborns. If you're not born yet, you're not my client. Whatever it is. It reflects you. Your brand and identity should very much reflect who you are and if you're doing something so opposite of who you naturally are, that will not resonate. That doesn't fit. You can't be the cheerful goofy one if you're kind of mad at the world and you wear, well, I don't know what you wear, but (laughs), but, you kind of feel like all of this is a big pain in the butt, and you kind of just have to slog through it. But your brand is super fun and cheerful. That's tough. If you're somebody who feels like ya got to slog through it, and it's a pain in the butt, and you don't like it, but your branding is dark and moody, and edgy, that's awesome. You're in a great space right now. It has to connect with who you are. It should resonate your values. What do you care about here? What do you want to get across to your client? If you have a business that is low dollar and high volume, your value might be, we knock it out fast and we get it to you. There's nothing wrong with that. It's transactional, you get it done. It's fast food. You get it done, and it's the same way every time, and if you want to walk in and get dinner in four minutes, we're here for you. But if your value is that you're going to be ... It's going to be slow, it's going to be methodical, it's going to last for a lifetime, it's an heirloom product that's a whole different set of values. And then it communicates your nitch, niche. So, when you want to communicate your, is it nitch or niche? I never, ever know it. Or anyone niche? Sure. Okay. So, if you want to communicate your niche, what is important there, before you can do that, is you have to make a freaking decision. You have to decide what it is. Back to that idea of the additional stress that you don't need to have in your life. You know what you don't need to have? This years and years of just trying to figure out what to tell the people about you. You don't need that. Decide something. Maybe you're wrong. Switch it later. It's fine. Decide something now though. Get something down and go out like that. Just get started. There is so much hesitation because you don't know if it's the right thing and there's other things, which are also to that. Decide, of all the things, this lights me up the most. I'm going to make this my focus. It doesn't mean you can't shoot a bunch of other stuff. I shoot a lot of things right now. In the market, in my market, I'm known as a family and children photographer. That's how I'm known. But I photograph politics, I photograph editorials. I photograph a lot of commercial stuff. I photograph a lot of travel landscapes. And I'll show it here and there. But my marketing, my message, is this, this narrow niche. Because that's how you want you to find me, and that's how I want you to identify me. If I'm doing everything, there's nothing to identify me with. So, communicate your niche through your marketing. Brand consistency. Of all the things that anybody can tell you about branding, this is probably the most key part. It's got to be consistent. You figure it out, you know what you want other people to think. You communicate it very specifically, and then you do it again, and again, and again, and again, and again. Consistency. It's not just what you say, but it's where you say it, it's how your website looks, it's how your materials look. It's what your business card looks like. It's what your logo looks like. It's how you communicate. Again, back to the idea of resonating with who you are. If I had this great brand, but on social media I'm getting mad about everything all the time, on my public business page, which I have recently, (laughs) it's not my fault. If that's what's happening, then you're going outside of your branding. You're being inconsistent. So it's being really, really consistent across the board. You're eliminating confusion, you're making it very clear how you're going to stand out. That's what this brand consistency is all about. On your portfolio, I'm here to tell you that a few great photographs means you've shot a few great photographs. But if you have only great photographs, people see you as a great photographer. Think about what you show. Makes a huge difference. I have been on websites before where I open the thing, the first image pops up, I'm like, (gasps) that's awesome! I open up the gallery and I look through and I'm like, that's so great, eh, that's amazing, that's amazing, huh, I wonder why they included that. That just outright sucks. (laughs) That's great! You know, if you can't see it yourself, get really good other set of eyes on it, get one, two, three, people you trust, people who can look at it objectively. To this day, like two days ago, I pulled a couple people over to look at a photograph. To this day, when I take a photograph that I fought really hard to get. That I was like, oh, it all came together. It all came together. They were running at me, and I changed my manual settings to a fast shudder speed, and I made sure to adjust the light, and I got to the right angle, and by the time they got here, everything was tack sharp and the focus was great, the expression was amazing, the lighting was perfect, and oh, that was so good. And I'll be in love with that photograph, and I want to put it everywhere, and I think it's the best photograph I've ever taken. And then two or three days later I'll look at it again and I'm like, oh, it's pretty good. (laughter) Like a few days ago, it was a masterpiece, it was going to be in every museum in the world, but now it's like, pretty good, and then I pull people around, I'm like, objectively thinking, from you, objectively talking, what do you think of this? Just looking at it right now. What do you think of it? And then I'll go like this, and I'll wait to see what they say. And sometimes they'll be like, it's a nice picture. And? Well, it's a nice picture. I thought it was everything. You need people to do that on your website, because the affect of your emotion and how hard you fought for it changes how you see it. But it doesn't change how other people see it. So being able to step back and have other people look at your portfolio is huge. And I'm not the only person who does this. People are like, why did you decide to include this shot with your portfolio? Ah, he's just such a sweet guy. Great. But what do you think it says about you photographically, talent, from a business perspective? I photograph great guys? (laughs) Doesn't matter. So you have to be a little bit more objective, and if you can't achieve objectivity, get other people to help you. Blue sky. We're going to do another quick activity. If you were handed a billion dollars right now, but you couldn't spend it on anybody else for the rest of your life in any way. No dinners out, can't live in your house, because you bought it. Can't get in your car, all the things. Would you take it? I got one big time yes. (laughs) A verbal and a heavy nod yes. Couldn't share it with anybody. Think about any capacity where money is ever in play. (laughs) He's like, I stand by it. Who else? Anybody else? Got some decisions here? It's a decision though, right? With the exception of one of you, everybody else had to think about it. Along those lines, if you could take the greatest photograph you've ever taken. I've heard this question before, this isn't mine. If you could take the greatest photograph you've ever taken, ever, but never share it with anybody else. And it was a work to get it, would you do it? Mostly yes? Mostly yes? Here's what I want you think about sharing, it doesn't matter who you are, or what you do, if you don't share it. Sharing is marketing. Branding, identity, consistency, knowing what your portfolio is, what you want people to think of you. That's that whole first part. The sharing part is the marketing part. That's where you're bringing in clients, you're photographing, and then you're selling to them, you're getting the next round of clients, you're getting word of mouth referrals. All of that is marketing. Sharing really, really matters. Significantly.