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What is Brand?

Lesson 26 from: Finding, Defining, and Marketing Your Photographic Style

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

26. What is Brand?

Lesson Info

What is Brand?

Now we're gonna talk about branding and taking your style into your brand and your marketing. This, to me, I love marketing. Like, you know, is it really? Someone kinda goes really over there. To me, it's a game, it's a journey, it's an art. To me, marketing and branding is like an art in itself. And it's so fun to play with, because it truly is a game. And I love fitting the pieces together to see how to play the game better. And, whoever wins, gets the most clients, really is what it is, but also whoever wins, I mean I say that as a joke but really, whoever wins is the one who gets the word out about themselves the most. Yes, clients, you want the clients ultimately to come to you, but the whole point of branding and marketing is to make people fall in love with you as a business. What does that say about me and my dating life, back in the day? I must have been quite the little player if I just fell in love with the game, right? No, I was actually a serial monogamist. You know the ki...

nd, serial monogamists? But I dated a long time before I met my husband. I was one of those people, you know how in silly girl dreams, when you're in high school, you're like, "I'm gonna be married by the time I'm 25, "I'm gonna have a baby by the time I'm 30," you know, you just like say these silly things in your head and then you hit your 20s and 30s and then you realize, man, that was really stupid. Because God had a whole nother plan and I was so not listening. But my point is, is that I've dated a lot, and had a lot of boyfriends, and it's always the same game. And you're like, "what on earth does having a boyfriend "mean in terms of branding and marketing?" It has everything to do with it, because it's an analogy. Dating is truly like marketing. You are courting a client, you're attracting them in, with your style, with your personality, with your moral values, all of that. Each business has that, and if you can learn to harness those things in your business, just like you harness it in the bar in college, you can attract and bring in clients who are your soulmate and ideal. I wouldn't suggest that you met them in a bar, but you know, that's okay. It's all about bringing them in and then making them loyal to you and never wanna divorce you. You want that marriage proposal from your clients, okay? You want them loving who you are so much they will throw money at you in order to get you to marry them. Which to me, is kind of a cool game, right? I know, I'm being silly, but my point is is that, if you think of it with that analogy, it will make you conscious of it in the forefront of your mind, and if you take the components of what it means to have a brand, and, let that resonate from every part of your business, you can't help but attract the client you were made to attract. How many of you are married or have a significant other of some kind? Almost everybody. Or you've had a significant other in the past. When you know it's right, you don't see anybody else but that person, right? They are your everything, they are your soulmate. And I want you guys to find the soulmates for your business. But what that means, is, understanding how you are presented to the world as a business, and what you're attracting in turn when you do that. So it's being self aware as a business. So this segment is all about applying your style to your brand. Your style is just a tiny component of your brand as a whole, and we're gonna focus on that today. We could go into, heavily into moral promise, some of your business personality and all this stuff, but this class is about style, so we're just going to focus on how your style can be incorporated into your brand. It's that visual component of everything that is your business. But just note, that as I talk about these visual components of your brand and using your style in them, there's so much more to a brand than just what it looks like. A brand really is about how your customers feel about your business. When you think of a big brand, like Coca-Cola, how do you feel about Coca-Cola? What do you think of, when you think Coca-Cola? One of the first things I think is the open happiness campaign. Open happiness, like the bubbles everywhere, and like the commercial where the roller skates are going by it's the Diet Coke ad, you know? Effervescence, bubbly, open happiness. That is them trying to communicate to me drink a coke and you'll be happy. You know what I mean, so it's happiness. With companies like Apple, to me, their brand and what I feel about them, is they are passionate about technology connecting human beings in relationships. And Facebook has a very similar brand. They are all about open dialogue and connecting relationships from afar. You know what I mean? They want me to be connected to my world. Does that make sense? So I want you to think of the big brands, and just the companies themselves, don't think about the visual components of the brand, just think about the company itself and how you feel about them when you work with them. Or, how you feel about them when you're not working with them. What they represent, who they are, that sorta thing. What is a brand? To break it down in very simple terms, it is the three Ps. Your presence, your personality, and your promise. As a business, not as a person, but as a business. This translates to your visual presence, your overall business personality, and your moral promise. So again, let's go back to the dating analogy. If you're trying to attract a mate. It's your visual style, how you look. Not only your appearance, like how pretty or buff or stately you are, elegant, cute, charming, I don't care. What you look like. Your style, what you wear, how you come across, how you carry yourself, these are all visual things. So there's a visual component of your brand, how your business looks. And then there's that personality. When you start talking to someone, when you first meet them at a bar, you're kinda getting a feel for their personality. Like who are they, what do they do, are they funny, are they quiet, are they shy, are they super outgoing and warm and gregarious? What are they as a person? Your business has the same thing. Businesses can have personalities. Think about Apple or Fiat. Fiat has a very quirky, funny, personality. You got the Fiat, the car. Who else kinda has funny personalities? GoDaddy for a long time was trying to be funny. Carl's Jr was trying to be rebel. Remember the ads with like Paris Hilton and the burger on the car, kinda thing? They were trying to be a personality that was kind of a little off kilter and kind of rebellious, that kind of thing. So each business can have a personality, just like a person. And then your promise as a company. What are you going to promise your consumers? What moral values do you hold as a business? And it's the same when you're dating. If you really like a person, they're cute, they're charming, you're attracted to them, they have a great personality, and they're a total liar, they don't have very good moral values do they? Or perhaps, on a lighter scale, they're not the same faith as you, and that's a total dealbreaker for you. Or they, on the seedier side, they steal or whatever. They're not good moral people. I mean, that's obviously extreme, but businesses are the same way. What are you promising to your consumer on a why level. What is your purpose as a business? Why are you there as a company? And why should the customer care that you're there? Why do you as an employee of your business get up in the morning, and why should Susie Q down the street care that you do. That's a big question. Why should Susie Q care that Olivia gets out of bed in the morning and goes to her studio and shoots images? Why should she care? That's your moral promise to your consumer. Your brand statement. And the artist statements that we've been writing here, or kind of thinking of in our heads over the last two days, do relate to our brand promise a little bit, because we talk about how we want our art to impact the world, why we're doing what we do as artists, why our style is the way it is, and that does relate to our brand promise. It's not complete, but it relates. So we're gonna focus on the visual presence of the brand. How ya look, basically. Because your style is, in essence, how your work looks. It is also how your work makes someone feel. So this translates well into a brand, because brands are all about, ultimately, how you feel about a company. We're gonna talk about the difference between branding and marketing in just a minute, and I think this will become clear once we go there. So, your visual presence encompasses many things. It encompasses your image style, which we've been talking about the last two days. It encompasses the logo in your brand. It also encompasses your collateral, among other things. And your studio look as well as your product line. So these are the major visual components of your business. There's a couple more, but for the most part, nail these and you've got your well on your way to an incredible visual presence that's cohesive and has a common thread between it. So what we've been focusing on this whole time is image style, right? So once your image style comes from your heart, then you can allow the brand to come through that. So if you have a really dark, dramatic style that's a little rebellious, you're not gonna wanna do a scrapbooky childlike brand, because the two aren't gonna match, they're not gonna work together, they're just gonna look disjointed and your client's gonna go, "What's wrong with that picture?" James Heaton, I love this quote, I do it every time I do branding, but it's so critical, cuz I think he really hit the nail on the head. He said, "Marketing may contribute to a brand, "but the brand is bigger than any particular marketing effort." So think of marketing as like promotions, ads, things like that, so just kind of put that in your head and that will help you clear it up. "Marketing may contribute to a brand, "but the brand is bigger "than any particular marketing effort. "The brand is what remains after the marketing "has swept through the room. "It's what sticks in your mind associated with "a product, service, or organization, whether or not "at that particular moment you bought or did not buy." Make sense? It's really about a feeling associated with a company. Paul Biedermann said, "a brand is the essence "of one's own unique story. "This is as true for personal branding "as it is for business branding. "The key, though, is reaching down and pulling out "the authentic, unique, you. "Otherwise, your brand will just be a facade." It's the same with style. And I think Lindsay and Allison talked about this a lot today when we were discussing things with them. If you don't come from that place that's in your heart, it's just a it's fake. And it may not feel fake initially, like "oh yeah, that's me." But then after a while, it will start crumbling. It won't build stronger, it will crumble. Do you know what I'm talking about when I say that? Like that feeling of wanting to use a specific prop or go in a specific direction with your style. You'll stick with it for maybe a month or two I'm being general here, but, then after a while, you'll find yourself lured by something else, and this wall will begin to crumble. And then you'll be more confused and won't know where to go. That tells me that you're not coming from the deep, unique place that's you, because you're just putting up a facade and not taking ownership of you and your style. And it goes the same with a brand, and the beautiful part about being artists, is that we are our brand. We are our style, we are our brand. Companies like Nike, or REI, or whatever, they're not associated with a particular person, so they have to build a brand from scratch. From the company itself, not from an artist creating the product. So we actually have it a little easier, because all we have to do is figure out who we are as artists, and the brand will come naturally out of that. It's also very challenging, because it means owning up to who you are and allowing yourself to be authentically yourself, and asking people to pay for it. Which can be extremely confidence knocking. Especially if you're not getting clients, but you do feel like your style is you. You're out there, you're doing what you love, and nobody's coming. It's a little defeating. But I'm always a huge believer in there's something wrong with your marketing. If your photographic skill is top notch, if your style is there and you feel it's right, you feel like your branding is in the right place, and you're not getting clients in the door, you have a marketing problem. There's something going on, you're not building partnerships and relationships in your community, you're not putting out the right promotions, you're not developing the right campaign, something's happening where your marketing is falling short. But nine times out of 10, when I see photographers not get clients in their door or they have to work super hard to get clients in their door, it's like pulling teeth, it's usually because their style is not fully developed, they don't have a cohesive look to their work, their brand is a mess. That's usually nine and a half times out of 10 what it is. The brand is a mess. There's nothing consistent, it's all over the place, it doesn't have a unique look, it's not, it doesn't match the work at all, and they're falling short in their brand. The internal components of their business have fallen apart, and yet they're trying to market to the outside world, the outside world sees that and they're like. If you're not getting any clients, but you feel like you're doing a really great job marketing, then something's wrong with your business. Do you see what I mean? So it's those components that you need to look at in order to really figure out where things are falling short and usually it's you. It's something you're doing, not your clients, not your competition. Sarah Petty said, "you cannot build a strong brand "on a weak identity." You have to know who you are, in order to build a brand. And what is identity in your work? It's simply your style. And your style encompasses the visual and emotional elements of your work. So a weak brand is like a sketchy friend. You never know what you're gonna get. It's true. It is, have you ever had a sketchy friend? I totally have had a sketchy friend. Gosh, and I was friends with her for like 20 years, and that didn't work. A little sketchy. Oh she won't lie to me, it's okay, she won't lie to me. No, I'm her best friend. Oh yeah, you know how it is. Relationships, that's the way it is in life. But my point, it's truly like, and that's totally an exaggeration when it comes to branding but really if your brand is all over the place, sketchy, like you don't really know what you're gonna get when you go in, is it gonna be consistent? So what happens when that happens? There's a huge lack of trust and the client, trust me, is not cognizant of this, this is not in the conscious mind this is all subconscious. How you communicate your style to your target audience is the essence of your brand's visual presence. Does that make sense, are you following that? Let's read it again. How you communicate your style to your target client is the essence of your brand's visual presence. So in other words, the logo, the marketing collateral, the studio look, the product line, all those things that your client sees as a visual component that has to have your style in it, and in turn it will have your brand. So the two are very intertwined together. And what's critical, absolutely critical, if there is one thing I can beat on your noggins this two days, is consistency. Your audience needs consistency. This is where that discipline process that Lindsay was talking about is so important. Edit, edit, edit, edit, no get on that no train, girl, boy. Dan's back there going, "I'm back here, too." Sorry, Dan. If you don't have consistency, you won't have trust. Consistency in the brand means that the business can be relied upon, day in, day out, to do what it does best. If your style is flip-flopping every two months, if you're one thing visually and another thing the next month, and your logo is changing every year, you're not gonna get clients. They're gonna go, "whoa, what?" They're going to know subconsciously that you're still in amateurville, okay? How, big businesses in the world, how often do you see them change their logos? Your logo is the face of your company. Can you imagine if I had plastic surgery every two weeks? You'd think I was a nutjob, right? You would not trust me worth here to high heaven. Remember when the whole Renee Zellweger thing happened? Everybody thought she had plastic surgery, there was this big drama going on, I still don't know to this day what the actual truth is, but her face had changed. At least in the pictures, and Photoshop can do a lot of things, who knows what actually happened. But my point is that people got really sketchy. They were like, "whoa, this is not right, that's not her." What do you mean? That's exactly what happens when you change your logo every year in your business. They start to go, "whoa, no, this company is a little, "they don't have their ducks in a row." It makes you look like you don't have your ducks in a row. If you're flipping flopping things around and if there's no consistency. It breeds doubt in the client's mind, it creates mental barriers. It dampens loyalty and encourages wandering eyes. If you don't have a consistent brand, your client may go, "Oh, I think I'm gonna go over there." What's worse if when you're had consistency and then you change it up too fast, and furious. And then the client goes oh I'm just not sure I like her anymore, wandering eyes. And it's very hard to redeem yourself from that. You've seen brand disaster stories, where companies try to change their brand and then it just bombards in their face. There's a couple who have done that. Jack-N-The-Box had that issue. J.C. Penney had that issue. Coca-Cola did it actually in the 80s, and this really dates me, I'm so sorry, I hope that doesn't make me seem that old. But J.C. Penney, remember in the 80s, they had new coke? Not J.C. Penney, Coca-Cola had new coke? Yeah, that was a trainwreck. They went back to Coca-Cola classic, they apologized, people freaked out. It's like changing the Coca-Cola can to purple. That just should not happen. And they made a mistake and recovering from that took a long time.

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Ratings and Reviews

Cesar Flores

Wow wow wow, as an artist on a beginner's stage this was an amazing presentation. Julia is a pro on teaching the psychology of the artist within ourselves. I will follow her from now on and start putting in practice her step by step techniques on finding my style as an artist. Thank you Creativelive and Thank You Julia, you are amazing


This course is amazeballs. Love love love love love love love. Just buy it. :)

Laura K.

Wow - this may be my favorite Julia Kelleher class (and I own several). So much of what she talks about hits home with me, really speaking to where I am at in my photography journey and the struggles I grapple with every day. Lots of hard truths - the kind that remind us as to the necessity of good old fashioned hard work (really, really hard work) - the need to be truly technically proficient - the need to experiment - the need to practice every single day - repetition ("wash, rinse, repeat!") - and the need to continue learning all the time. I also really appreciate the fact that Julia touches on the PPA (Professional Photographer's of America) CPP (Certified Professional Photographer) process a bit. I just took my CPP exam and will be working my way through the image submission phase of the CPP process over the course of the next year; so it was nice to hear Julia's thoughts and experience in her own CPP journey. I NEEDED this course. Julia and Creative Live - thank you for bringing this to us. And Julia, thank you for diving deep into the hard realities that we need to hear and know in order to truly grow and evolve artistically and professionally.

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