Thursday, April 3, 2014

Branding Your Business: Step 1

So I’ve had my branding revamp on my to-do list for a couple weeks now with no progress on my end. Today I decided I better just sit down & get to it since I feel like I’ve been avoiding it like dirty laundry. It’s not that I’m not excited about having it re-done, I’m just scared. I want to make sure that whatever I decide on will be something Ill be happy with for a long time. I know the first step to this overhaul requires me to actually contemplate & define things I like so they can be curated into a defined look; seems easy enough right?  I lean back in my desk chair, kick my feet up on the desk & twirl the globe….a dart in hand. The continents can represent the different styles I decide rather pleased with myself. I’ll just throw this at the globe & wherever it lands, that’s what I’ll commit to I decide. But I start to break a sweat & I think I’m having a mild panic attack. It’s too much to narrow down, it’s like telling your husband to pick & then whatever he picks you’ll definitely want the other option. I decide to go to plan b….Pinterest. That’s what any normal woman my age does when they need to be inspired! Scrolling through there I’m sure to find something I like & I can go from there. But what happens next is any indecisive persons worst nightmare.
If I felt like I was drowning in decisions earlier it had only gotten worse. Suffering from a mild case of adult ADD, my first problem was the struggle to not be distracted by the witty memes talking about bitchy things that were suddenly funnier because they had old fashioned Victorian ladies on them or the barrage of cute animals or the neverending stream of beautiful home interiors that mine will never look like!!! Gahhhhh! Ok. You can do it I say. I take a deep breath & stumble to the search bar where I can type exactly what I need & stay focused. “Photography Branding” I type into the little rectangle pleased I’ve made it so far. The page begins to load. As I scroll down & further down…I consider tumbling would maybe be a better name for Pinterest as it more accurately describes your feelings towards the neverending bottomless page.  Alas, I find a few things that speak to me. The corners of my lips turn up slightly to form this thing called a smile. I’m getting somewhere. I’ve now successfully pinned a few things. I click to go to the board so I can review the sum total of my progress. Well let’s see here….I pinned two outfits…one classy & timeless & the other modern & business like. And I pinned a cupcake. I wonder if she’ll be able to clue this all together? I feel like my board is trying to say that I like two things which are completely opposite mixed with something tasty & fattening….maybe I should start over.  
Why do other people’s branding boards always seem so confident, so clear? Like an ad campaign for J Crew.  A dash of sparkle here, something classic there, with just the right mix of color & some cute fonts. They look so polished & mine looks like a food war. I guess I should have started with my own advice I start to think. I think back about the article I wrote on Branding & the questions I need to answer to start getting a clearer picture of not just what I want, but what my clients want & will identify with as well. So I ask myself, what is my business? The short answer being Photography. But beyond that knowing I have to narrow down what Photography I really want to focus on.  I remember when I first started it was everything. I think everyone goes through that spell don’t they? No? Its part of the learning curve if you ask me. Phase one: something inspires you to buy a camera so you do & then you take tons of pictures of said thing. Phase two…you start to explore other things. You ask yourself logical questions like why can’t I be a baby, wedding, family, child, senior, fashion, product photographer? And so you set out like Columbus to explore new lands, nothings safe. Phase three: You realize your business isn’t growing like you wanted it to because your overextended & not focusing your talent & well…your just plain confusing people.  (See current branding  by visiting my full site here or my blog here & add your thoughts to how it should change in the comments below)

So what do I want to shoot anyways? Babies aren’t really my cup of tea…I’d rather admire them from afar if you know what I mean. And Seniors? I feel more awkward then them most of the time so trying to put them at ease? Ha! This is where I decide that I like people who are so distracted by love they often forget your there with a camera + that I grew up in Mexico & Id love to spend more time there = I really want to shoot destination weddings in Mexico where I grew up! Yes please! But I can’t ignore that I first got into photography because I love the limitless world of fashion photography. I love that it can be anything I can imagine & allows my creativity to roam free. So I’ll have to tie that into my business model too somehow I conclude.  

Now with that all decided I ask myself the next question:  What demographic do I want to attract? Well…I’d like clients with a mid-high range budget, male & female & Id like people who will appreciate my personality & not be turned off by it. I happen to be this weird mix of introvert & forced extrovert…kinda like a Chihuahua mixed with Lassy. I prefer to keep to myself but in Photography you can’t be quiet so I force myself to be talkative & relatable. I think it mostly pays off but there’s definitely been times where I’ve gone blank on what to say. Perfect examples of this are High-school Seniors. They’re going through a lot of changes, they’re finding themselves, they’ve taken plenty of selfies but when it comes to shooting, there’s definitely a warm up period where your trying to find common ground & put them at ease.  But me? In search of friendly conversation I realize I don’t know any age appropriate jokes & I go blank. This causes me to panic followed by my rendition of runaway bride where I bolt for the hills & all they hear is the barely audible sound of my trailing voice sqeal…”sorrrrrryyyyyyyy”.   So the point of all that? Does there have to be one? Ok, well, it’s made me picky. And why not be? I want people who will enjoy having fun through the process & who are discerning but not overly critical. Who are fun loving & allow me to feel confident & be myself because they’re super fun & outgoing themselves. Sounds like a tall order but then I have been blessed with just this sort of client in the past.
So I have to ask what appeals to this sort of client? And  what appeals to me? Well, I know I like straightforward yet bold design mixed with touches of feminine & grandeur.  Now don’t ask me what the looks like as it comes together like the big bang, but that’s why god made Dawn. And yes, I realize how terrible that sounds. I know she isn’t here for the sole purpose of working on my branding but let’s be honest, I’ll be as greedy with her time as she allows me to be. She totally rocks & if I can have her creative mind indulging my re-branding fancy then Ill take it!  So what else? Well, I like information to be said in a way that’s entertaining & not monotonous. I think that’s pretty much everyone across the board these days though. We like to be entertained & have come to expect it. But there’s a fine balance between entertaining your client &, “your not funny”, “your trying to hard”.  I feel like my ideal client would appreciate all these same things because its straightforward but with touches that make it unique just like them. Hmmmm. My head fills with inspiration, I visualize the perfect color palette & I paint…the beauty of it all starts coming together, forming a masterpiece. Goosebumps on my arms. It’s going to be amazing.  I glance back over at the globe & think about the design styles I had assigned each country. Europe is going to work perfect I decide as I grab a second dart & throw it towards LA. 
Check out my Pinterest Branding Board here to see as it comes together & visit Dawn Aldermans Blog for more posts I've written on marketing & branding

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