The Importance of Branding
Now that you have a portfolio of images representing your unique visual approach to image-making, and you know which locations you want to work in, and the clients/specialties clients in you'd like to work for, it's time to focus on establishing your brand.
Think of branding as your face in the marketplace.
You'll likely already have a sense of your brand's personality, as it's necessary for deciding the subjects, emotions, and visual elements you're interested in exploring in your photographic, illustrative, or video work. It should reflect a part of your personality, especially if you use your name as your brand. Authenticity is the key to maintaining a consistent brand.
Your brand should also reflect the desires, aspirations, and ideals of your target market. A brand's beauty is its ability to influence perception and create recognition, trust, quality, and value without needing to spell out each time who you are and what you do. If your brand does not reflect your target market's priorities, you'll fail to resonate with them, and your competition will have an edge. Your aim is to be the first-person clients remember when they need a photographer, illustrator, or director for a specific job or a project with a particular style. Think about the comprehensiveness and technical prowess of B&H Photo, or that ability to push creativity that only Adobe can offer. You want that same kind of quick association with your brand as well.
Your brand will be comprised of your logo or typeface. Still, it extends beyond and informs every interaction you have with your target market, reinforcing what makes you different from your competitors: from your email communications and social media posts to how you interact with customers and resolve conflicts. To build a strong brand presence, you must align all touch points with your customers to offer a unique experience, breed loyalty, and provide consistency in the quality of the services you offer.
To get started building your brand, consider your purpose and values, sourced from your mission or positioning statement. Consider a memorable company name (likely your own) and the tone you'd like to strike in all your verbal and written communications with your customers (polished & professional, yes – but also playful? innovative? spiritual? authoritative?) Consider how you package and design your visual elements, logo, or typeface (hire a professional, if need be), and the colors and fonts that reflect your brand's personality. Also, consider how that visual, verbal, and emotional brand translates into your email, phone, and social communications and displayed in the estimating & negotiation, project planning & execution, and final product delivery and customer support.
Strong brands are their own entities – who they are for clients, how they conduct themselves, and how people remember interacting with them.