Branding Guide

Using photography to grow your brand

By KatFour Photo

What is a brand?

A brand can be a lot of different things. It can be a description of the product or service a business produces. It can be the personal resume and head shot and accomplishments of a business person. It can be the logo and website style of a small business. It can be the feelings a business elicits in its customer's. It can be the way a professional or business speak to its target. It can be the imagery associated with a business!

In reality? It's all of those things and more.

Personally, I define brand as your business or professional personality.  The way you interact with others and how they perceive you, as well as how you look, carry yourself, and interact with others.

Why do you need to develop your brand?

As I mentioned before, your brand is your business or professional "personality" and guides both how you behave in your business, and how others perceive you. It's pretty darn important that you consciously make choices about your brand. Rather than letting the perception others have shape your business, you should make it part of your business plan to develop your brand and help steer how your business is perceived.


So where do you start developing your brand?


Once you decide to develop your brand, where in the world do you start?

It is my belief that you start with a business plan! This will help you plot out what your business is, what it stands for, who you want to speak to, and then plan how to communicate with them!


What's in your business plan?

  1. Company Description - 1 sentence to describe your business. The way you would describe it to a potential client.

  2. Vision - A short 1 sentence goal for your company. For example, Amazon's vision statement is: "To be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online." This doesn't need to be a goal that is necessarily measurable. The idea is that it helps you compare all your business activities against this benchmark to help guide you as you make decisions for your business. This is where you want to be as a company and all activities that you do should help support this goal long term.

  3. Mission - The mission builds on the vision and offers up how you plan to get to the goal you outlined. It doesn't need to be overly complex, and it can change as your business grows and changes. Amazon's mission is "We strive to offer our customers the lowest possible prices, the best available selection, and the utmost convenience." This statement is actionable. It offers guidelines for how you plan to strive toward your vision.

  4. Organization & Management - What type of business will you have? A sole-proprietorship or a partnership? Will you make an LLC or not? Some other type of Corporation? Who will help you with legal questions? Accounting advice? Will you need to outsource part of your business? Or hire contractors? Or will everything be done in house by you? Do you plan on hiring employees? This is the point where you want to plan out how your business will function, and find the necessary resources (professional service providers) that can help you get set up. Legal and accounting advice should come from professionals. They can also help you get set-up and get necessary legal documents like contracts prepared.

  5. Service or Products - What are you selling? Describe this in 1 sentence the way you would to a potential client.

  6. Who is your Client? - Describe in fairly broad strokes in 1 or 2 sentences who you're targeting with your business. Later you may want to add to this and include more about them as you learn. Where do they spend time that you can reach/advertise to them? What other products or services interest them that would work well for partnerships? For now, you just need to know roughly who's going to buy.

  7. Market Analysis - Who are your competitors? List out 3-5 competitors currently in the market. Write up a description of what other competitors would look like. Describe their business. To do this you may want to research the competitors that you've already identified. Later you might want to look into their strengths and weaknesses, but for now this is just to get you an idea of what the competition looks like. This is also the place to start thinking about how many potential clients you have in your market.

  8. Marketing & Sales - Write up approximately 5 strategies you plan to use in the coming year to reach your target market. If you have more ideas - great, add them. But you want at least 5 to make sure you're diversifying your communication and not relying on just one method.


Once you have a plan you can start creating your brand strategy!

What do you need in your branding checklist?

At this point, you have your business plan with a mission, vision, and ideal client and marketing strategy.

Let's set up a checklist of the branding pieces you'll want to plan and create:

  1. Your business name - You want something memorable, with a personal story behind it, and with a website available.

  2. Your brand colors - What colors do you feel showcase your brand? Which ones do you want to use on your website? Pick a small selection of colors that complement each other and represent your brand well. Keep these in mind for all your other materials.

  3. Your logo - The logo that represents your business and is present on your website and marketing materials.

  4. Your typography/font choices - Select 2-3 fonts that you will use on your website and marketing materials. One for your headings and others for the remaining text.

  5. Your elevator pitch - If you only have 2 minutes, how do you sell your business? What are the main paint points you address? What sets you apart?

  6. Your visual elements - Your photos, design pieces, videos, illustrations, etc. These can help tell your story as well as your text elements.

  7. Your website - Put together all the elements to create your website!

  8. Your social media content - Create your social media accounts. Target the social media sites where your target clients spend the most time.

  9. Your print materials - Business cards, posters, pamphlets, and any other printed materials you'll need to advertise your business!


How do we tell your story?

As you're working through your branding checklist, think about what you want to tell your potential clients. To create the elements you need, think about the story you want to tell your clients.  What questions do you want to answer for them? What pain points do you want to address? What do they need to know about the process and benefits of working with you?

Let's take all of that and write up a story. Or better yet, several, and translate them into the visual elements that make up the stories.  This way you can write up your website copy, your social media materials, and your brand story and have the visuals that go with each piece.  Your "about you" can show who you are as well as tell. Your FAQ can show examples of the situations you're addressing.  Your services/products pages can highlight the process and items.  Your Facebook and Instagram posts can have engaging images for the situations you're describing!

By planning out what you want to tell and show your clients you can create months of content. This will make it easier for you to show who you are, what your brand represents, and why your ideal clients should hire or buy from you!

A good brand/commercial photographer can help you narrow down what stories from your business would be best represented with photographs. How to frame the story and tell it in an engaging and beautiful way.  And most importantly, help you plan how to use the images to grow your business and share what makes you special with attention grabbing images!

What types of stories can images help you tell?

Here's a list of some examples of stories to plan out, but there are so many more and they vary from business to business!

  1. Interaction with your clients. Whether real clients or friends up for posing as clients. Get some photos of you providing your service or selling your product to your clients.

  2. Preparing your product or services.  If you ship your products, get some photos of you prepping and packaging your products, researching your services, preparing paperwork for your meetings, taking notes, scheduling, etc. Let people into your process.

  3. Photos of your products or services.  This might seem like a no brainer.  But I'm not just talking about stock images on a blank background. I mean your products or service in action!

  4. Personal photos letting your clients into your life. Do you love your morning coffee or early morning run? Have pets? Work on your business with your family? Read a lot of books? Draw inspiration from long hikes? Capture that in photos to showcase your life and what inspires you.  Your clients want to know your why!

  5. Posed portraits.  You still need a headshot every once in a while, but it doesn't have to be a plain posed shot on a simple background.  It can have props, show your personality, or even be in your place of business.

  6. Learning new skills.  Do you listen to podcasts or read books? Get photos of you polishing your skill set.