In this article we are going to be talking about building a brand for your Photography business.
But firstly, what is a brand?
Well the Oxford English dictionary defines it as “A particular identity or image regarded as an asset” – and the key thing for me is the last word in that definition – “asset”. Building a brand is building and asset and any asset needs to be invested in with time and money.
Your brand needs to be an asset to you and your photography business.
So when you start to think about branding your business, this is not something to be taken lightly.
Your brand defines your business.
It not only identifies your business, it can also suggest things to the consumer.
It needs to be identifiable, repeatable, and in a format that renders well on lots of different media, on screen and on paper, and on different coloured backgrounds.
Being an asset of your business, it also needs to be protected and clear guidelines given as to its use – especially within your own business. Consistency is key, and I’ve seen so many well meaning staff wreck a brand design by using the wrong font or incorrect colour code – and of course this can soon escalate.
So where do you start in Building a Brand?
Well of course your brand needs to be derived from your company or your business name.
You may of course not yet have decided on a name for your photography business.
Which is great, because once that decision is made, it can be hard (and expensive) to change things, so you need to really think it through clearly before committing to it.
Now of course building a brand does not start and end at the company logo – it defines the business – it is the name of the company, its identity, its logo, and goes far beyond that into areas of marketing speak where we talk about “brand values”.
Of course that could cover a whole chapter of a book – so for the sake of this exercise, let’s try to keep the marketing fluffiness in check for a bit 😉
So let’s start at the beginning of build a brand.
Your business name.
First of all, what do you do?
Let’s talk generally for a minute and not just limit ourselves to our photography business as you may expend into other areas.
So – are you running a service, or selling a product?
Does that service or product need to be suggested in the brand name?
For example, ABC Photographers?
Well as a brand that would certainly clearly indicate what the business does – but what does that brand name signify to you?
Well, to me that typifies “little Joe Bloggs one man band photographer who gave little time to naming his business, so he might give little time to properly photographing my children”.
Can you see how important building a brand is?
Do you want a location in your business name? e.g. “Birmingham Photographics”
Well, what if your business has to move, or expands far beyond it’s current location?
If you are providing a service you are happy to put your name to, then many businesses opt for the founder’s name in the title.
That can help build up trust – however it can also be a hindrance, especially when there may come a time you want to sell or exit the business.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule when building a brand – just look through the FTSE 100 or Nasdaq 100 Stock listings and you’ll find some great examples of what could have been branding disasters, but were not. (Nasdaq listed Tractor Supply Company don’t supply tractor’s for example)
The key thing is to think it through carefully – brainstorm the idea with trusted friends and family (more on that in our next article!).
Always remember this is an asset – and someone else may already own it – so double and triple check that the business name is not already registered.
Of course if the name is in use, it may be in a different business sector or location – but be very careful here, and take good advice from a lawyer who knows Intellectual Property and Trademark law.
If you are based in the UK, a great place to start checking the availability of a name is Companies House.
For US business owners, the US Small Business Administration service offers lots of advice on checking and registering the name of your business.
Australian Business Owners can check here
Remember – everything needs an online presence now – no matter what type of business you are in!
Is the domain name available?
That’s probably the hardest part, as there are businesses who exist to register as many domain names as they can in the hope of selling them on to the highest bidder.
Fortunately, the domain registrars are on to this and are continually adding new domain derivations that give us a bit more freedom, so you can even register domains now with your business type at the end of them (e.g. paulsmith.photography instead of paulsmithphotography.com )
So once you’ve decided on a business name – make sure you register it as a business and as a domain name.
For full protection of your asset, you should also consider registering the name and visual identity if the business as a Trademark – this, however, is a huge topic and beyond the scope of this particular article – I do recommend reading this guide to registering a trademark
The other thing you should do is register as many domain name variants as you think sensible – there is always someone out there who will be looking that domain name that is similar to yours – don’t let them benefit from your online reputation and masquerade as you!
For domain name registrations, we recommend Namecheap.com and if you are based in the UK 123-reg.co.uk. There are other domain registrars out there, but in terms of price, support and ease of setup, these two are hard to beat, so I wouldn’t go anywhere else.
Social Media if where you need to be!
Don’t forget to register your business name on as many social media platforms as well.
I always recommend properly incorporating a business as well, it provides protection to you, can be tax efficient, and suggests longevity and trust to the consumer.
Your Visual Identity – Your Logo
So you’ve got your name – now you need it’s visual identity – the company logo.
This is where you should not skimp on costs.
Hire a professional designer or outsource the task to a virtual assistant – the best one you can afford.
It really does make a huge difference.
Our global Internet connected economy now means there are a huge number of talented individuals competing to do business with us, and with the local cost of living varying in huge magnitudes from country to country, you could end up hiring a designer for a few hundred dollars who might have cost you 1000’s locally.
Now I am not suggesting avoiding your own local suppliers – you should support your local businesses – but there are other options available to you if the local design talent is not what you are looking for.
So in summary – what did we learn in this article:-
- What is a brand?
- Your brand needs to define your business
- Your brand needs to attract your target customer
- Your brand needs to be available – check your local Company listings and Trademark registries
- Your brand needs to have an online presence – make sure your domain is available
- Protect your brand assets – register any other similar domains and look into registering your brand as a Trademark
- Hire the best designer you can afford to create the visual identity of your brand
If you have any questions, stick a comment below and I will try to answer them as best as I can.
In my next article (which continues the process of building a brand for your business), I’ll discuss how I came up with the concept for the MyPhotoCTO brand.