Branding - It's Not Just For Cattle


I grew up in eastern Oregon, among countless ranchers and farmers, with a fixed association on the word branding. "That's my cow" is what tends to come to mind when you think about it, yes?

If you are in marketing, self-employed, or a graphic artist, you likely know the term as something more than cattle ranching or the swoosh on your shoes. It's now a stylish necessity to color-code your business (or that of your client), to show your level of establishment.

Last year I moved my business to Lake Oswego (suburb of Portland near my home) after several months of trying to finish my new business card design. A few months after the move, still no card designed, I invested in a business consultant. Subsequently he told me to invest in a graphic artist to "GET IT DONE!" Seems a no-brainer, but having 15+ years of doing my own, why would I, right?

Branded Brian Sporting New Cards...

I was on-a-roll, applying my favorite phrase "just because you can, doesn't mean your should". Applying it everywhere, that is, except to my card-designing-negligent, inner graphic artist.

Without questioning my investment in an arbitrary set of eyes to my marketing, I called our mutual chamber connection at Lake Oswego Graphics before he even left the office. I thought I was hiring her to finish the task of designing my business cards. Within a couple of hours, she had me in her office looking at my new logo. She gently persuaded me to look a little closer at the message of it. In doing so, I realized how dated (film strip - designed the same year as the game-changing Canon EOS 10d) and "color-reversal-unfriendly" it had grown. I believe the term is "Sunk Cost" and healing term would be "LET GO!..".

Insightful Marketing - Erin Preston
Before I even reached her office, the new "People Celebrating" crown was created, parked on her screen in three variations so that all I had to do was point. I loved the concept for my business, but it made me look even closer at my colors. I wanted something that would endure time better than beloved brown, tan and gold. (no offense if those are yours -  they just didn't radiate that feel of celebrating, never mind the diversity of photo colors that would be all over them...)

As much as I like to lay things out, I could easily shoot, edit and deliver about 20 clients jobs (earning a few thousand, while investing a few hundred = ROI) It set me out on an ambitious roll - studying my LinkedIn connections' photos, looking at their site or marketing materials, asking "what would I do?.."

I called another trusted adviser that I knew that specialized in branding and marketing. I offered her my input on what I would do for her headshots, in trade for her input on my new branding and colors before I had fully committed to new bags, packaging, ribbon, cards etc.

Our Portland Trailblazers had NOTHING to do with the color choices - they just worked with the new concept and especially with my images. My headshot business that month (call it a coincident if you must) was up 300-400%. My offerings were no different this year than the last 15+ years I've been doing headshots, so why the sudden spike?..

BRANDING!!! Alas, the aesthetic presentation matched the mood of what I was delivering... It increased the level of trust that my clients had in me. (not to mention I had some business cards after nearly a year of being out - "Brian, Brian, Brian!.."

Author Graham Salisbury Headshot
I've never been one to just go straight to the camera room with a client. I like to get into their world
enough to know what message they'd like to convey (I help arrive at that answer) and of course to study them enough to know how to extract that expression or feeling. When I'm getting a REAL smile v. merely what they look like.

So much concept and care for the essence of my product, yet I had to pay an adviser (thank you Gary Crawshaw), to tell me to pay a graphic artist (thank you Leslie), thus seeking another professional opinion (thank you Erin Preston) to design the presentation of said product.

Any photographer experiencing this, go stand in the mirror and say it with me - HYPOCRIT! Phew, now don't you feel better, more able to go out and approach your business with a fresh perspective. We've been guarding ourselves from dabblers, vs. doling out these duties to other professionals, so that we can get back into the camera room to SHOW the difference between "uncle Bob" or "Digital Debbie" or the "Cousin with a camera" and a true professional.

We work in an industry that anyone with a DSLR (and no back-up or lighting - YIKES) fancies themselves a photographer. We seek peace and rationale through the hilariously relevant humor of "What the Duck" (cheaper and healthier than counseling) and yet so few of us have probably invested in a graphic artist, marketing specialist and or branding consultant.

Unlike your Facebook selphie's, these images have to convey a message to your future clients/prospects or even your dating profile readers (and yes, some have been wise enough to share this as the use, thus allowing me to extract that "this-is-who-I-really-am" expression).

Is your image outdated? Does it say what it needs to say on your behalf? Do you keep putting it off because (like me) you hate to have your picture taken? Whatever your reason is, just keep in mind the importance of matching your brand, and take advantage of this end-of-year offer! (okay to wait until 2014 to use, but must be prepaid/retained in 2013)

For the balance of 2013, we'll include one free extra file (SAVE $99) embellished free of "incidentals" - blemishes, unwanted stray hair, evidence of a late night prior or anything else you desire. Pick the one that says Linked in, and pick another that says blog, Facebook or just another "look" that matches that novel you're about to publish.

Call Brian for a consultation, and we'll set you up with the best info for clothing, background, indoor outdoor or location. A quick phone consult, scheduling and 30-60 minutes (depending on the type of session) and you can get back to earning in the way that you do best!
Brian GerathsComment