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The Art of the Client Experience: Building Your Brand

defining your brand as a photographerWhen you think of the following brands, what words come to mind?

  • Apple
  • Subaru
  • Chipotle
  • J Crew

When we think about famous brands, it’s often easy to describe them in a word or a few phrases. Luxury. Quality. Friendly. Beautiful. Timeless. Family.

Seth Godin defines “brand” like this:

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. If the consumer (whether it’s a business, a buyer, a voter or a donor) doesn’t pay a premium, make a selection or spread the word, then no brand value exists for that consumer.”

What words come to mind when they think about you? What do clients expect from you and remember about you? How do they perceive you?

As a photographer, your images are a big part of your brand. However, YOU are the most important representative of your brand, even more powerful than your talent and photography skill. How you interact, the experience you provide, the personality and style you convey, the details to which you attend, the details which you ignore–these all factor into your brand.

We recommend taking time to define your brand. Follow these steps to begin to grasp how you are perceived and make plans for strengthening your brand:

Brainstorm your values. Take time to ask yourself the following questions: What do I want people to think of when they think of me? How do I want them to feel during a photo session with me? How do I want them to feel when they receive their photographs? What do I want them to remember about their experience long after the photo session has occurred? What is my personality, generally? What kinds of people am I more likely to attract? What am I proud of when it comes to both my personal life and my professional life?

Ask others. Ask clients and friends some of the same questions you asked yourself. Note discrepancies. Ask for additional feedback and clarification if necessary. Do this by email, over a cup of coffee, or if you’re like us, over a couple glasses of wine. Work up some thick skin. Try to get at your strengths and weaknesses. If you like, put together a short survey with prompts, multiple choice, and true/false questions and ask your friends and family to submit their thoughts.

Begin to build your brand. Decide on a few words or phrases around which to build brand awareness. With every decision, from client service to photographic style to what you wear to a session to how you conduct sales to what photographs you present to your client, ask yourself if it supports your core values and branding goals. No one else even needs to know your key words or phrases. In fact, they should be able to instinctively know your brand without being told–a brand is something to be experienced by your clients and is conveyed by everything you do, not just what you say.

We look forward to you creating those “expectations, memories, stories and relationships” that make up your brand. These simple steps are a great start and are rewarding and enlightening–both on a personal and professional level. Ultimately taking time to understand and define your brand will help move your business forward and enhance the client experience beyond measure.


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