Branding and why it matters.
Think of a restaurant, hotel or store where the whole experience was not only fantastic, it was a great experience that you wanted to go back and you tell all your friends about it…this is why branding is important.
So this is what you should be asking yourself about your brand. What are the misconceptions you are saying or not saying about your brand? Many think that a brand is your logo, but it is so much more. It is your images, your website navigation, your Instagram account, your twitter account and most important, your reputation. How do you conduct business? How buttoned up are you in your marketing? Are you consistent in your marketing? Are you targeting the right audience? What message does your marketing convey? And it goes beyond that when a project comes through from estimate, creative call, pre-production before the project starts and how professional are you on set? Are you a team member with your crew and do you treat them fairly? How do you treat the entire agency team (and not just the creative team), craft services that take into consideration dietary restrictions, getting images to the client quickly and then does your invoice match the estimate? This is all a part of your brand. Why this is important is because one person’s misconception of how you conduct your business can affect your longevity.
When I was an art buyer, I was fortunate to work with many photographers on all levels. I have witnessed so many careers end because of the photographers lack of understanding that the whole experience was important. I had creative directors tell me of on-set horror stories. A photographer screamed at his crew in front of everyone; no food during the shoot for my art director although there is a receipt for food at a restaurant on the invoice; or photographers treating the account executive and client like they didn’t matter (client is paying the invoice). During my career as an art buyer, I have seen it all. Photographers telling the client (major alcohol brand) to leave the set, overages on an invoice that were never approved or even bought to our attention, purchased wardrobe that wasn’t a part of our shoot and never returned to the agency, the receipt for a shirt and tie came from Neiman Marcus but the items returned to the agency were from JC Penney, invoices with missing receipts and even a meal receipt that included cleaning supplies, pet food and cat litter!
The majority of those photographers are no longer in this business. Production is a part of your brand just like an experience at a hotel, restaurant or store is a part of their brand. The hotel may be nice, but if you are charged for items you didn’t order, you are not going back. The food may be great but no one wants to pay top dollar to hear the chef scream at his staff. Or the store may have nice merchandise but if the sales folks don’t acknowledge your presence then you are not going back.
On the flip side, we went back to a photographer’s studio over and over again because the whole experience was not only professional with fantastic results on our project but an all around enjoyable experience.
It is crucial that you look at your entire brand and what type of experience you offer. Be honest with yourself as your longevity in this business depends on it.
APE contributor Suzanne Sease currently works as a consultant for photographers and illustrators around the world. She has been involved in the photography and illustration industry since the mid 80s. After establishing the art buying department at The Martin Agency, then working for Kaplan-Thaler, Capital One, Best Buy and numerous smaller agencies and companies, she decided to be a consultant in 1999. She has a new Twitter feed with helpful marketing information because she believes that marketing should be driven by brand and not by specialty. Follow her at @SuzanneSease. Instagram