Chapter 3: Branding Words
In a dream scenario, if a client of yours were to sit down and describe the experience she had with you to her friend, what would you like her to say?
You need to narrow down 3 words that describe you. Those will be your branding words. They can relate to the look and ’feel’ of your images, how you shoot, your editing style, your personality, how you want your clients to feel when they are in front of your camera etc. And don’t feel tied down by them. I used to revise my branding words every winter as I prepared for a new season, and update my portfolio accordingly too. My 3 words have changed a lot over the course of my 10 years as a photographer.
I have made a 1 page PDF for you that you can download below. It is full of descriptive words and there's space for you to add additional words you can think of too. When you have printed it out, go through the list and immediately cross out any words that, by gut feeling, feels like a mis-match. Then get up off your chair (I mean it!), go make a cup of tea or take a drink of water. Give your brain a few minutes to reset, and then come back and go through the list again and keep crossing off words one by one until you are left with just 3 words that feel razor sharp, genuine and 100% spot on. Words that feel like the essence of you, and what you want you business to look like and be remembered for.
Try to stay away from very general descriptive words, like ’professional’, ’expert’ etc. Those are things that should go without saying when you are offering your service as a paid professional. Even a word like ’luxury’ doesn’t have any real meaning but may be your way of legitimising a higher price. But if you do, you better make damn sure you deliver a luxury experience from beginning to end too!
I have my three words written on a post-it stuck to the bottom edge of my computer screen. If you want to make it neater, you can make a print out in a nice font and pin it to the pinboard on the wall above your computer if you have one. You just need to have it within clear eye view while you work. Having those as a guide helps me whenever I need to make a decision, when I need to say yes or no to a client or to a collaboration opportunity.
One more step for you:
Write another photographer to set up a shoot, where you photograph eachother so you both have an updated set of shots to choose from for your website bio pic, you Instagram profile, Facebook, Pinterest and anywhere else people can find you online. If your editing styles are very different, and everyone are on the same page, you can agree to swap RAW files so you can edit them yourself and have them fit in seamlessly with the rest of your site. Although I see no problem in having a different style headshot/bio portrait than your own work. And remember to give proper credit below the photo if at all possible depending on your website template.
Keep your branding words in mind as you prepare for the shoot, and dress accordingly.