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Define Your Brand

Lesson 39 from: Building Your Photography Business for under $3,000

Kathy Holcombe

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Lesson Info

39. Define Your Brand

Next Lesson: Build a Solid Brand

Lesson Info

Define Your Brand

Alright, this is the best part, because this is where everything comes together to create that cohesive picture of your business. And so, I thought this was the perfect introductory image on branding because there are so many photographers out there that are charging ahead in the world, and you don't want to be lost in this sea of blandness. You have to figure out how to paint your house red and stand out and be bold, and your neighbors may not like you so much if you're bright red, but your customers, your target audience, they're gonna find you, and they're going to look at you, and they're gonna learn more about you, and if you have done all of the things that we've talked about in this workshop they are going to invest in you because they're gonna fall in love with you. So, that's what this branding segment is about, and you have to think about where you are in your business. So, as you find yourself as a person, you start out and you're just like your mama and (laughs) you're just...

like your family and you imitate what they do. You imitate the people that love you or the people that inspire you, and then as you get bigger you set out on your own and you charge out in different directions, and you're exploring and you're trying to figure out exactly who you want to become. And then, as you get older you start to establish your own unique characteristics. And so a business goes through these same steps, so if you're just starting out in your business, it's likely that you're going to be imitating people that you respect, people who you want to become. Surround yourself with those people and do the things that you appreciate in them; that's your fastest path to success. And then, once you've mastered that part of it, you can start exploring and saying, "that worked really well for them, but I think I want to try this different path and see how that works." And then, as you become more solidified in what you do and what you like to do and who you like to work with and you're established, then you can start stretching your own wings and going in your completely own direction. And that's when you'll have your really established brand. So, you have to put yourself in that young mindset; if you're in the imitate and explore stage, the neat thing about kids is they're not afraid to try things, right? Kids go out and they try new things all the time, and they fall down, and they don't even think about it. It's just part of the learning process, so give yourself permission to fall down, give yourself permission to try new things, and then keep picking yourself up and moving forward. It's really part of establishing yourself as a business; as a full, grown-up business with your own character and your own brand. So... often times when people think about branding, we talk about the name of a business. I can't tell you-- for decades, Peter and I have been arguing about the name of our business. It started out Peter Holcombe photography, and then I joined the business and that didn't make any sense, because I'm at least half of the business. And so, your name says a lot about your business, but it's only a small piece of your brand, so it's really probably not that big of a deal, but when we started photographing our family, it was all about our family, and we were going on this adventure, and so Famagogo became the obvious name for our business, and that's why we transitioned it. So, as you think about the name of your business, it only has to be 80 percent perfect, it's really not that big of a deal, but here are some tips if you're struggling with that. What do you want to convey? What is it that you want to say? If the business is all about you and you're branding yourself as an artist it's okay to have your name be the business, as long as it's easy to spell and pronounce, okay? Holcombe, not so easy to spell or pronounce if you don't know how to say it. "Is this hol-kahm-bee photographer?" (laughs) I mean, that happens all the time, so make sure that your name says what you want to convey. If it's that you are an artist and that everything is tied to you, your name can be the business. Keep it short, simple, easy to write and remember. Family on the go: Famagogo; it makes sense, okay? People always left the "e" off of Holcombe. It wasn't easy to spell, so that's one of the reasons we shifted. Avoid names that are too narrow or literal. So, what this means is you don't want anything to be generic or vague or literal, like, "A Photographer," is pretty literal. It's also pretty generic; it doesn't really say anything about your business, right? So you want to avoid names like this. Even worse, "A Wedding Photographer," especially if you want to photograph babies, right? It doesn't make much sense. So just make sure that they're not too narrow, that they're not too literal. One of the-- I think this is a pretty interesting name, When Toyota started Lexus they took the letters of luxury and rearranged 'em a little bit. That's where that came from. So, you can think about something that you want to be, rearrange it a little bit, make it something amazing. Haagen Dazs just sounds delicious; it's a made up word. Famagogo is a made up word, so it's okay to make up words as long as they're easy to say, easy to remember, and easy to spell, okay? So... You also need to be careful with geographic names. So, if we say "Seattle Photography" if you move to Portland that wouldn't make very much sense. So as long as you know you're gonna be in one place for the duration, a geographic name can be okay, or "27th street Photography" as long as you know you're always going to be on 27th street that can work, but life has a way of throwing you curve balls, and so just watch out for geographic names, okay? That's it on names, it's pretty simple. It doesn't matter, just be consistent. If you can say something about what you do in your name that's a wonderful thing to have, okay? Check on the name category. Alright. Colors. This is the nest thing that Peter and I argued about for decades: What is our color? And so, there are some things that colors convey, and I bet you can think of a couple of businesses that have really done well with color. One of 'em has this pretty blue color. Does anybody recognize that? Tiffany's. They always have that turquoisey-blue color, and anytime you get the turquoisey-blue little box, you know there's jewelry inside or something really neat. So, they have used that color consistently throughout their entire business as part of their brand and something that is highly coveted. Another company that uses color really effectively is UPS: "Brown gets you there." Right? It's brown. (laughs) But they use it and it's become part of their persona. The delivery drivers wear brown, the trucks are brown, the logo is brown, brown is their color. When you see that you think UPS. Alright? I bet their marketing teams hate brown or baby blue, either one. Because as creative people we love variety and we love to change things, but it doesn't matter what your experience is with a color or with a name. Resist the urge to change, because that's something that becomes associated with your brand and the personality of your business. And if you can ride through the boredom of having everything be that turquoisey-blue or that ugly brown you will have something that is recognizable and established in your business. So, number one, pick a color that you like (laughs) a lot, 'cause you're gonna have to live with it. And here is just some ideas of what colors can mean to people. Red, the way that people see red is that it actually focuses behind the retina and gives the impression that red is coming toward you. Have you guys ever seen those optical illusions with red in it where it looks like things are moving? It has to do with where the color focuses, either before or after the retina. So red feels like it's coming toward you and conveys every and excitement. It's a physiological thing that happens. Blue is the opposite, and it is in front of the retina. So red is behind the retina, blue is in front of the retina. So this on is more of a laid back, peaceful, going-away-from-you kind of color. Yellow is often used for caution because it's the brightest most eye catching color. Green tends to represent the environment and health. Purple signifies royalty, black signifies luxury, white signifies purity. So when you think about Famagogo as a brand, which one ties most strongly to it? Energy and excitement, right? Adventure, vibrancy, color. And then we also added a little luxury in there too, because it's going to be a high-price product. So black and red, those are our colors. Very simple; they're always like that, you always see black and red whenever you see Famagogo, okay? So, we could have also gone green because we're always out in wild places. That would've been an option as well. Does it make sense for me to change away from black and red for any reason? No, those are the primary colors of our brand. So we're always gonna stick with those, even when I can't stand to look at another red thing for as long as I live we will have black and red. And if we don't, call me and tell me that I failed, no, I'm teasing. (laughs) So... as you're thinking about what your business and your logo and your brand says to your consumer, pick a color, it doesn't have to be a primary color, it could be a variation of red, it could be a variation of blue, but stick to it. It's part of who you are as a business. Okay, so choose a single color, and stick with a basic color; these are all primary colors. Okay, you don't want to go with some strange combination of colors that is not a usual color that we see. So stick with the basics, and consistency is key, even if you never want to see another red letter again. And then your logo, it follows the same rules that we talked about on your business card and your gift certificates. There is an ideal shape that is is two and a quarter to one, so it's best to have 'em long and skinny because they fit at the top of banners, they fit on letterhead, that's a good configuration. And then you have to make sure that you can read it. So, when I look at this Famagogo logo I can pick on it because I designed it. These A's are a little bit difficult to read, but they're clean and simple, and so I think it works in this design, but if I had a clearer A that had a line across there I certainly should have used it, but it is what it is, so we're stickin' with it because consistency is more important, but as you're designing your logo, make sure that it's easy to read. Have you guys ever looked at signs over a business and they're all scrolly or gothic or whatever it is, and you're squinting and you're trying to figure out if it's an A or an E or what it is? Don't be that business; make it clean, easy to read, easy to say, easy to spell, easy to remember, easy, easy easy. Okay. And then, the other thing is the name of the business is what carries the power. So, again, the logos and things that you use for your business, they're easy to debate ad nauseum until you can't even think about 'em anymore, but really, it's the name and the feeling that that name conveys in your business that's really important. So, as I think about this, if we need to slant the font a little bit, or if I need to fix the A's in it a little bit, it's okay, I can do that slowly over time. If you look at old Coca Cola labels from a long time ago compared to new ones, the font's tipped just a little bit, it's just a little bit different, but it still has the same feel, so over time I could go in and fix those A's and that would be okay, but it's the feeling that that name conveys is what's the really important part of my brand. Same thing for you and your business as you're building your brand.

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Ratings and Reviews

Amanda Beck

Kathy was a wonderful instructor. She was engaging and someone who was precise and incredibly helpful. We have a full time photography business and are always looking for new ways of running our business. Her information was insightful and forced us to have conversations about our business that we have haven't had in several years. She is fantastic and someone who has the information needed to help you start or expand your business. Thank you for a wonderful class!!


Thank you Kathy for yet again another very thought provoking class. You are such an inspiration, teaching us the right questions to ask ourselves so we too can be brilliant photographers / entrepreneurs. I was a fulltime RVer for seven years, traversing 44 states and seeing some of the most beautiful places on our planet. It gave me a great opportunity to meet some extraordinary people and to hone my photography skills. Now I have put down roots in Stapleton - Denver, CO and am soon to launch my own Family Lifestyle Photography business. Your course has definitely given me the courage to just charge ahead and go for it!

Jeph DeLorme

Another top notch production from the amazing team at Creative Live! Kathy Holcombe, aka FAMAGOGO did a great job of covering all the basics along with the associated costs involved in starting up a photography business. However, you don't need to be a beginner to get great info from this class, it's packed with ideas and tips that even an experienced pro can put to work and take to the bank literally the next day. I highly recommend this class.

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