This article has been contributed by Jayce Redford.
Photography is an art form made possible by technology. But unfortunately, the rapid digitalization of photos is slowly devaluing what was once a highly regarded means of capturing images. Most people today associate quality photos with fast and efficient delivery.
Thankfully, there are still a few people here and there that appreciate the amount of artistry that goes into taking the perfect photograph.
The Business of Taking Photos
Over the past several decades, we’ve depended on professional photographers to capture moments and produce content for commercial purposes. These photographers thrived and became successful in various areas of industry. In the media, for example, we know of a few who’ve cemented their reputation as the best in their field. Yes, one may argue that it no longer makes sense to pay someone to take your photos, but there’s no denying the skills and experience that only a professional has.
These days, photographers who run a small business face significant challenges. And there are many reasons why many of them are losing a steady client base. Here are just some of the threats that face the photography industry today.
- The changing image of photography in the era of social media. While social media has made a significant contribution to promoting the importance of beautiful imagery, its role remains a double-edged sword. On one hand, you’ll see photography enthusiasts striving hard to promote the art, but on the other, there’s the mass appeal of posting ordinary pictures of your day-to-day life. There are the so-called influencers who encourage the use of good photos, while there are others that give little importance to this art form.
- Mobile phones equipped with high-end camera technology. Who needs to hire a photographer when you can use your high-end phone to take high-resolution pictures? Mobile phone manufacturers today keep advancing camera technology, making it more accessible for the general public to experiment with imaging techniques. Coupled with mobile phone cameras, everyone can easily access editing software and other tools that allow anyone taking photos to produce stunning images.
- Increased scrutiny of photographers’ skills and experience. Since many people today think that taking and editing pictures is easy, most photographers’ work comes under heavy scrutiny before getting hired. Not only will the client look at their portfolio, but also require that photographers have some form of guarantee for their work. That’s why, if you’re a professional photographer who wants to build a good reputation, you’ll need the best photographer insurance to protect your client and your business interests. Not only that, but you also need to invest in marketing and personal branding to encourage positive engagement from potential clients.
- Rapidly advancing technology and new techniques to learn. For many decades, the skills required to become a professional photographer didn’t change much. But today, advanced camera and computer technologies force every photographer to adapt. Static knowledge isn’t sufficient if you want to remain competitive in the industry. You’ll need to take the time to complete courses and qualifications to stay relevant.
- Heavy competition. Since learning to take photographs has become a hobby for people who can afford a digital camera, many are also dabbling into offering paid photography services. As such, professional photographers face heavy competition from amateurs who are more creative with branding and marketing.
These challenges are only a few examples of why it is more difficult for a professional photographer to succeed in the industry. But with the help of effective marketing and branding strategies, you can compete against the competition to consistently attract clients.
What is Branding for Photography Businesses?
In general, branding means marketing a product or service , part of which is having a unique brand identity. For photographers, this usually pertains to a concept, mood and preferred aesthetics.
There are several reasons why branding is essential for every business. Some known benefits of branding include:
- Increased recognition. If you think about how the most popular companies reached success, it’s attributed to the brand image they portray. For a photographer, successful branding will allow you to stand out among all other businesses that are within the same field.
- Attract new clients. A stable brand usually gets the most clients. By creating a positive image for your business, you can attract the trust and confidence of new clients. Branding can also foster familiarity. And when people are about to try a service for the first time, they usually gravitate towards the most recognizable brand.
- Add value to the business. If you have any plans of growing your business, you need the branding to attract not only clients but investors as well. As you gain leverage, you’re establishing not only your business’ reputation but making sure that your company has a stable future.
Branding is considered an umbrella term and covers many aspects of marketing and customer service. An excellent practice used in branding is to ensure that all elements that make up the entire process meet the same goal.
How to Build a Successful Brand for Your Photography Business
Photography businesses today focus their branding efforts online. It makes the most sense because most of these businesses get new clients through website traffic and social media engagement. But, building a brand that stands out online isn’t a simple process. It goes beyond curating a beautiful website and filling social media with content. The first step you need to acknowledge is the many elements that make-up branding.
- Focus on the services you provide. If your photography business caters to a niche market, then your marketing and branding efforts should build upon what you do, and why you do it.
- Who are your target clients? The next key element is identifying your clientele. For instance, a wedding photographer should focus on branding strategies that appeal to couples.
- What do you do differently? The last step is to recognize and highlight what makes your business unique. How do you intend to offer your photography services that stand out from the competition?
Indeed, branding begins by knowing your business values and aligning them with your goals. Along the way, it’s possible to make some changes, but it’s critical to have a solid foundation to ensure that you don’t make significant mistakes in the long run. With that said, here are our recommendations on how you can improve your business brand to attract more clients.
- Effective branding should allow your personality to shine through. Sincerity resonates well, especially if you’re marketing your skills as a photographer. Your brand should express your passion for the art form. Of course, it’s not possible to please everyone. But a unique point of view will help you beat other competing brands that are too mainstream and commercial.
- Consistency is essential. All the technical aspects of branding should be consistent with your theme. The color palette for your website, your logo and the content you share should be consistent with your branding. If you’re trying to convey a message or story, it should be clear and concise. Changes or transitions should be subtle to avoid confusing your clients.
- It’s OK to experiment. If you’re new in the industry, successful branding doesn’t happen overnight. It’s normal to stumble through a few concepts first before finding the perfect fit. What’s important here is that you learn from every attempt and identify what’s effective so that you can gather them to come up with one that best represents your business.
- Creating engaging content that appeals to your clients. When sharing blog posts, social media posts and other online content, always keep your target market in mind. Know what appeals to your clients, especially what they need. Are there specific issues you wish to address or resolve through your service? If so, then you need to pay attention to how your business can address these points most efficiently.
Lastly, don’t forget to put your photography style at the center of your branding efforts. Consider promoting the process of how you take photos outdoors and inside the studio. You may also want to describe the experience your clients should expect once they book your business. It’s vital that you also deliver on every promise you make as it could make or break your branding strategy.
Branding Don’ts You Need to Avoid
Now that we’ve discussed important points to consider when developing your photography brand, let’s focus on the things you should avoid, especially when it comes to the technical aspects of branding.
- Get inspiration, but don’t copy. In designing a logo, text, slogans and similar details for your brand, getting inspiration from other businesses is acceptable. However, you should be very careful not to copy or plagiarize the work of others. If you’re hiring a designer, always oversee the process and take the time to research the concept so that you don’t inadvertently copy from already published work.
- Don’t focus too much on trends. Marketing experts agree that following trends isn’t a good marketing strategy. Always put your business at the core of every branding aspect so that whatever you produce appeals best to your audience. For instance, a nostalgic and traditional concept typically works well for photographers that cater to portrait clients.
- Don’t throw away your brand values for the sake of being trendy. We’ve earlier discussed the importance of sincerity in the field of photography. It resonates well with clients when you know your identity as a business and stick to it. Getting swept up in what’s trendy may drum up business, but it won’t last for a long time.
- Don’t forget to trademark or copyright your brand. Nowadays, getting a trademark is critical so that you can protect your business from possible infringement. Since anything and everything is available online, it’s easy for less-reputable firms to copy and plagiarize your work.
- Don’t worry if not everyone likes your brand. Photography businesses, primarily if you cater to a niche market, aren’t supposed to have mainstream appeal. Of course, it’s a case by case scenario depending on your style and target clients. If you do get negative feedback about your branding, don’t get discouraged right away. Since art is subjective, what’s more important is the impact you create on the potential customers you want to attract.
- Don’t align yourself with the wrong influencers. Partnering with influencers is a popular way to advertise and market through social media. However, not every influencer is the right fit for your business. Popularity shouldn’t be your only criteria for choosing an influencer who will promote your brand.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to rebrand as soon as possible if you notice that your efforts aren’t leading to your expected results. You need to track your branding efforts through numbers and statistics so that you can figure out what you need change. Fortunately, there are many tools available to track marketing and advertising progress. Also, pay attention to feedback and input you receive from your social media followers. Sometimes, you’ll find the most helpful advice from the people who are most interested in what you do.
In conclusion, photography businesses do face many challenges today due to rapidly advancing technology and the lack of public interest in paid professional photography. Clients are more discriminating since many photography businesses are competing within the same niche. However, photographers who thrive are those willing to work hard in establishing their brand. Branding is vital for any business that wants recognition and trust from clients.
Branding, as a concept spans almost every aspect of marketing and advertising. There are many technical details involved, which can make it overwhelming for a new photography business owner. Apart from our recommendations above, it would also help greatly if you consulted with a branding and marketing expert. There are many agencies today that not only handle brand design but also help with marketing, especially online. Remember that all the strategies you employ to advertise your brand should be cohesive, consistent, and always in line with your brand values and business goals.
About the author: Jayce Redford is a Project Manager and Content Marketer at digital marketing firm, Ocere.