Before we get started, we should be clear about what we mean by “brand” and “branding.”
According to the American Marketing Association brand is defined as the “name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies and differentiates one seller’s products from those of other sellers.” Basically, your brand is who you are as a company and it’s how others identify you—your company name, logo or symbol, product design, mission statement, tagline or catchphrase, what you promise to deliver, your level of customer service, the quality of your products and services.
There are many different elements that comprise a brand. Here’s a short list of brand elements1 with a few examples that you might recognize:
- Name: The word or words used to identify a company, product, service, or concept.
- Logo: The visual trademark that identifies the brand.
- Tagline or Catchphrase: “The Quicker Picker Upper” is associated with Bounty paper towels.
- Graphics: The dynamic ribbon is a trademarked part of Coca-Cola’s brand.
- Shapes: The distinctive shapes of the Coca-Cola bottle and of the Volkswagen Beetle are trademarked elements of those brands.
- Colors: Owens-Corning is the only brand of fiberglass insulation that can be pink.
- Sounds: A unique tune or set of notes can denote a brand. NBC’s chimes are a famous example.
- Scents: The rose-jasmine-musk scent of Chanel No. 5 is trademarked.
- Tastes: Kentucky Fried Chicken has trademarked its special recipe of eleven herbs and spices for fried chicken.
- Movements: Lamborghini has trademarked the upward motion of its car doors.
As a business owner or manager, have you taken the time to establish and fully understand your company’s brand? If not, it might be worth the time to sit down and try to define who you are and who you want to be as a company… and importantly, how you want others to identify you.
Now with all of that in mind, what can you do to make your brand work for you to help drive business…? In my experience, these are some of the most common topics that customers ask about:
Brand everything you can. I’m sure your business has a name and probably a logo or symbol… why not put it on your products and photo packaging?!? It’s very inexpensive marketing, it customizes your work and creates boutique photography packaging, and it’s a great way for others to see and recognize your business name. Tip: If you do put your logo or business name on your products or photo packaging, make sure you size it appropriately. That is, don’t put a small logo or text on a large bag and vice versa.
Symbols are great… But unless you are either Nike or Starbucks and your logo gives you universal recognition, think about at least including your business name. (Contact info such as your phone number or web address would be good too!).
Brand colors… do they matter? Yes and no. You should know your branding color pallet and stay true to it as much as possible, but you should allow yourself some flexibility. It is rare to see a company stick with the same colors for every marketing piece. Tiffany’s might be the only exception to this, but even Tiffany’s mixes it up during the holiday season. (If your studio has the marketing prowess of Tiffany’s stop reading this blog and write your own because you’re ahead of us : )
Monkey see… monkey do. Check out your competition. Do they put their brand on everything? If yes, then they are one step ahead of you. Their brand is likely to be more recognizable and they are likely to get more business. This one’s a no-brainer.
The investment pays off. Invest in branding your products and packaging because it has a significant ROI. Yes, there is an upfront cost to creating a studio die and adding imprinting or printing to your photo supplies, but consider it a relatively small cost of marketing. Each time you send a customer out the door with a branded bag, presto… marketing! Also consider this… most photo packaging is not thrown away—it’s saved as a keepsake—and it will continue to give you recognition year after year.
As a business owner or manager you’ve invested a lot of time and energy in creating and establishing your brand. Make sure you take advantage. Use that brand recognition that you’ve developed to help drive business.
One last thought… think about your favorite retailers outside of the photography industry. Why are they your favorites? There must be something special about the way they brand their products and services that makes them so appealing to you. Now, take that something special, see how it relates to your business and apply it!
1. Robert Pearce. “Beyond Name and Logo: Other Elements of Your Brand « Merriam Associates, Inc. Brand Strategies”. Merriamassociates.com. Retrieved 2013-04-29.