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Start and Grow Your Photography Business

Lesson 9 of 27

The Importance of Defining your Brand Identity.

Kevin Kubota

Start and Grow Your Photography Business

Kevin Kubota

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Lesson Info

9. The Importance of Defining your Brand Identity.

Lesson Info

The Importance of Defining your Brand Identity.

I took those words, they were my words. These are different, these are her words. Romantic, joyful, loving. And I started to find out where can I apply them? How can I use them to guide what I do? And it even would kind of play into how I presented myself when I went to photograph weddings. The car that I drove, as much as we say the car shouldn't matter but you wanna somehow convey that essence. The way I dressed at weddings when I arrived there. The way I act at weddings. Fun, romantic, sexy. One of the things I used to at weddings, just kind off the topic a little bit but, to send a bouquet of flowers to the bride before I got there to kind of butter her up a little bit and I would try to time it so that it got there while she's getting ready. It was delivered just before I arrived (laughs) to the getting ready shots with a nice little card and a bouquet of flowers and you get there sometimes and she's like, oh my god, my fiancé didn't even send me flowers. (audience laughs) What do...

you want me to do? I'm yours. Let's go take pictures. And I mean that put her in that mood already and it also played into the key words and et cetera. Okay so all these are areas where you're going to start to apply your keywords and there are a lot more and if you refer back to our points of contact list to give you some more ideas and you need to just go in there and be really honest. Maybe ask somebody else, do you see these keywords in my logo? That's where I would start. Logo 'cause sometimes that's the first thing that makes that first quick impression. We're going to talk about logos in a bit here, okay? So your brand identity needs to be simple. The message needs to come across quickly. Can't be complicated, can't be confusing. Very simply people need to know. That's why three words is all it takes to define you. If you need more than that then you're confused and you're going to confuse everybody else. It needs to be consistent meaning, just like we talked about, in everything you do from the clothes you wear, and the attitude, the music, the sounds, the smells, the logo, the brochures, the website, everything, the products that you offer. Everything has to have this essence. This brand essence. Should be emotional. Almost always as a photographer you need something emotional in your brand because people make photography buying decisions on emotion. Rarely out of need. Sometimes just because they price shop and whatever they have to, but it's almost always an emotional decision to buy an image because they're emotionally attached to it for some reason. Right? Except maybe business headshots, it's kind of like a need. They really need a headshot. Period. But still their decision is still somewhat emotional. How does it make them feel? Does it make them feel like a professional? Does it make them feel good, proud of themselves? And if it doesn't, it's not going to work. Even a business headshot. Focused on the perfect client, your perfect client. That's what the keywords help you to do is to focus it. And then it needs to say quality. That you're quality. Now one could argue that well, not every business out there is high quality and there are a lot of businesses that make a lot of money selling low quality, crappy stuff. I don't think you should be one of them. You can. I don't think you should be one of them. That's not my ideal way to do business. It's not a wrong way to do business but that's not what this class is about. I want you guys to be high quality, higher end, you don't have to be exclusive but I want you to be higher quality, proud of what you're doing, offering an amazing product at a price that feels really good. That's my goal for you guys, okay? Alright so let's take a look at this. This is something you can download as well and maybe, if you guys want with your little notebooks right now you can write down some words. Don't be afraid to write something down and be totally wrong (laughs) and change it. This is funny. My wife and I had this discussion the other night. We were writing personal life mission statements. We were working on that together and I got mine down pretty quick and she could not write hers down. And I said well, you know what yours is and she said well, I have several ideas in my head but I don't want to write it down 'cause I'm not sure yet. And I said it doesn't matter, just write. You can write something down. It's okay. And if you change it tomorrow that's okay. We're not going to be testing you on this or anything like that but she has this thing where it has to be perfect. She won't write it down until she knows what it's going to be and I kind of feel like you just need to start somewhere. So maybe fill this in if you want and I'll show you an example of one I filled out too but the idea behind this is to really give you a grounding, guiding statement for all the branding stuff that you're going to do, okay? For example, my customers see me, and my work as fun, romantic, and sexy. Those are my keywords, alright? This customer appreciates artsy and quality. So this is kind of like my ideal customer that I'm going for. They usually make their buying decisions via word of mouth, but also web reviews, which they always do. But word of mouth, and we'll talk about this, the most powerful, the most used for higher end photography. It's almost always a referral that cinches the deal for you. So how can you work those? And we'll talk about that later, too. The most important thing to my ideal customer's buying decision is a connection with their photographer. Which is interesting because a lot of people think, oh, high quality photography. I don't think that's the most important thing because I believe there's a lot of photographers that shoot equally as well as I do. A lot of them. A lot of them shoot better than I do but nobody's me. That's the one thing that's unique is I'm me. I can give you an amazing experience. I can make the day fun. I can guarantee you I will capture beautiful images 'cause I have enough experience to know that I can do that under any circumstances. And I'm not going to breakdown. I'm very calm under pressure so when you're stressed out at your wedding day, I'll keep everything calm. You can rely on me. You can put a hand on my shoulder and it's all going to be good. And I can promise this to my clients. So that's me that they're hiring. That's what I want them to hire me for. I'm uniquely qualified to serve my client, which I just kind of said. I'm intuitive and skilled in capturing natural moments and emotions. I have 25 years of professional experience and I am calm, collective, and I give my client's confidence and an enjoyable experience. So that's what I'm selling. Notice I did not say, I'm the best photographer in town. That's BS, honestly. I don't know if I'm the best. Who defines who's the best? So think about that. If you're marketing as the best photographer in town or the cheapest photographer in town, which I hope you're not doing, it's probably kind of one of those things that doesn't hold very much value in your customer's mind. So good idea for you to work on this branding statement. Again, it can change over time. You can put this on a little index card, print it out and fill it out, keep it in your wallet, keep it taped to your mirror, refer to it. I used to put this on my computer, taped to my computer. I have little sayings and affirmations and things and this would be one of them. They remind me, with my keywords, this is what I'm focused on all the time when I create something. Questions? Questions? Give me your questions. Jim, how we doing out there- Let's, so, One question that we have over here, Kevin, is if some folks want to get some advice on sort of the physical, how to find the physical part of their brand as opposed to the visual. How do you physically implement your brand? I did kind of mention, one of the things is even the way you dress. We talked about this at lunch, which is kind of a funny thing is my crazy wild shirts have become part of my brand and I didn't intend it that way. I just like crazy wild shirts but then I realized that if I didn't wear them people would miss it. People would say, how come you're not wearing one of your funny shirts or your crazy shirts? And so I realized, huh. That's actually become a little brand element for me, like it or not, and fortunately it was fine 'cause I love fun shirts anyway. So I had to make sure that that was something I actually did whenever I was in public, or on a shoot, or wherever because people were expecting it. You were talking about, one of our, you guys can't see. But one of our studio audience members here, she says she photographs kids and a lot of the time they do this jumping, puddle jumping kind of portrait sessions and fun stuff outside. So we started just on the fly brainstorming like what if she actually came up with an actual outfit that was fun that she could get wet and muddy in but it would be kind of fun. Maybe with like some yellow or red rubber boots that she always wore and that was part of her brand. It could even be part of her logo, like little rubber boots. For kids photography I think that's super cute, right? And then she always wore those to every shoot and I bet you in no short amount of time, you'd be in the park photographing with your red rubber boots and people would be walking by and, that's that red rubber boot lady. That's that kid photographer, the red rubber boots. I've seen her logo. I've seen her on Facebook with those red rubber boots and you're going to get known for those red rubber boots, which you may start to hate after a while (audience laughs) but it's going to be a powerful branding statement for you. Here's another example. Do any of you guys know Vicki Taufer? She's a portrait photographer. Okay she's amazing. One of my dearest friends. Amazing portrait photographer. She does a lot of kids photography and back when she started her business, her branding thing was a leopard. Leopard print, leopard pattern, leopard everything. Her studio had a leopard everything. Her website, her designs, it was all leopard. It was all tastefully done. It was very beautifully done. But it got to the point where she couldn't stop using it. She said, I realized one day, a client came into me and said, I was in the store with my little tiny kid, who they've been to a couple of portrait sessions, and the kid turns to look, walking in the store and the kid sees a leopard print couch and turns to mom and says, Vicki! (audience laughs) The kid recognized, saw leopard on the wall and said Vicki, the photographers name. And she was like, how amazing is that as a branding, right? When your kids are calling out your name for whenever they see leopard pattern. So that became her trademark. She's now like, I hate leopard. I don't want to use leopard again but I got to keep using it because it's what people see me for. So that's one way to incorporate physical into your brand as well. I think the way that you interact on a shoot, if you're a kid photographer and you put across this fun, rain boots, playful, I'm even picturing the bear with the rain boots on. Paddington Bear, you know. I don't want to rip off Paddington Bear but I just picture you with this fun little (singing) and maybe that's something you can allow yourself to be. You probably actually are pretty fun. If you photograph kids, you've got to be somewhat fun. (laughs) And I know how photographers, we have split personalities. On the shoot you're one person and when you get home you're like (gasps). (laughs) And when you're on the shoot you're like, hey look at me, do what I'm doing. It's totally different. So yes. Any other questions about incorporating physical? Approaches to choosing colors for your brand. Well they should align with your keywords first of all and that's something that, colors there's no real solid answer like, yellow is a power color or red is a power color. There are generalizations you can make but if you look at your keywords, look at the colors on your website. You can probably look at them. If you're like mine, it was black and gold which was not fun, romantic, sexy. That's like, I don't know. I don't even want to put words to it. But for me, I was like oh that doesn't fit. So you've got to look at it. The one I talked about earlier, the woman at my workshop, we transformed her. Her fun, playful thing. We gave her colors, she had kind of a minty green and white and yellow became her colors to go with her playful, giddy kind of a logo and she came up with this fun, little, playful logo and it was like, oh so cute. It was awesome what she came up with. But yeah. The colors have to emit those words as well. And I can't say which colors do what but there are a lot of resources and it's kind of just your gut. Do these colors say this?

Class Description

It’s important to plant the seeds to grow your photography business the right way. Whether you are transitioning from a hobbyist to a professional, or have already launched your new business and don’t know what to do next, Kevin Kubota will show you the key and essential steps to getting your business growing in the right direction. You’ll learn who you are as a photographer and how to position, brand, and market yourself to the perfect clientele. 

Kevin will show you:
  • How best to brand yourself to attract clientele that hire you for you 
  • Pricing and packaging strategies to maximize your sales 
  • How to perfect your sales techniques without being pushy 
It’s time to start or build up a photography business that will allow you to be creative and make money at the same time. Kevin will help you achieve that goal.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Branding Statement

Contract Do's & Dont's

Evaluate your Business

Keyword Exercise

Points of Contact

Sample Portrait Session Contract

Startup Checklist

Photography Pricing Calculator

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Lauren Scott

Super great class. I've been in business full-time for 5 years, and I'm just now starting to get my "act together" I have spent so much time shooting, it has taken away from the business aspect and actually identifying myself as a brand, this was a good way to get the basics, learn, lots of good info. NOT boring at all, he is super funny and super personable, not pretentious and speaks to you in a way thats easy to understand... sometimes I feel like entrepreneurs come off a bit "nose-in-the-air" with all these terms myself as a creative cannot understand... but not with Kevin, down to earth funny guy! I also emailed him with a few questions and he was so kind to email be back right away! Thanks Kevin and thanks creative live! Bring him back!

KIS Photography

This was an amazing class to be a part of! I knew it would be good, from watching Kevin Kubota's previous Creative Live classes, and this course far exceeded my expectations! Kevin is a fantastic teacher, giving sound advice, presented clearly, with a down to earth, caring & humorous touch! I've watched it over on the replay, picking up on more things each time. This class will help me to get my photography business off on the right start, and I am looking forward to implementing all of his fantastic advice! Thank you Kevin & Creative Live!