How to build a brand?
From the beginning of my career as a photographer, I wondered how I could turn it into a brand. I studied media design and part of it was marketing, so I went straight to creating a brand. I worked on a name, a logo, even a letterhead and a website, but I forgot the most important thing. In this post I will share the experience of my mistakes and also what I have observed, especially in the NFT area.
How to build a brand?
Let's start with my mistakes.
Of course, you already noticed in the introduction which mistake I made first. I ran blindly into something and did what I learned, but without really thinking. I made it easy, too easy. I ended up hitting a lot of walls. Creating a logo is a clearly defined task, just like creating a brand. You go for the obvious and start creating.
That went well until now, over time I found a logo I liked, I found a style I liked and felt comfortable with, and I built a website that could do everything I needed it to do. But then came the biggest questions I was avoiding all the time:
- What do I put on the website?
- Who am I actually?
- What kind of brand is this?
- What should it represent?
- What do my works represent?
- Which kind of work do I want to offer?
- What's the pricing of my work?
I had to admit defeat. I started building my brand from the wrong side. I didn't know anything about it and now I had a brand but I didn't know if it fit the answers to the questions. To be honest, I still don't have the right answer to some of the questions and I think it just takes time. Time to find yourself. Especially as an artist.
Of course it is possible to build a photographic brand without depth. But I would not be comfortable with that. I am simply not a classic photographer, nor do I want to be. Of course, commissioned work is important, so that money comes in, but how do you manage this dichotomy in a brand? Hard to imagine.
But there is a solution. Read on.
Logo and naming
At first, "building a brand" or "you have to build a brand" was always something I could not understand and therefore put a lot of pressure on me. A lot of questions came with it, like am I doing it right, what is actually needed, what is a brand... a better logo I might need.
And with that, I felt paralysed and insecure in my work. I wasn't sure if I should continue with a proper idea and strategy. The answer was. Yes and no! Since then I have been looking for a name for my brand, because a brand needs a cool name, right? Well, it depends.
Actually, it's pretty good if your brand name is your real name. Problem 1 solved. Don't make it too complicated. Also, using your real name has some advantages over "cool" synonyms. Next challenge, a brand needs a "cool" logo. Doesn't it?
Nowadays most of this happens on social media. So a brand logo would be your profile picture. You are giving away some nice opportunities to attract visitors. If you put your face on it, smiling, looking like you like it, it would be even better. Problem 2 solved.
Okay, so what have we done here? You took your name and a picture of yourself and you have a trademark.
Isn't that great? This is exactly why I like to call it "making a name" instead of "building a brand", because what you are really doing is bringing you and your work to the public. And what could be more recognisable than your name and a picture of yourself? Sure, you can do it with a logo and stuff, but choose your challenge wisely and take the pressure off. There are other challenges out there.
Probably the biggest problem for artists today is that they want to be noticed. A brand needs to be visible to as many people as possible. What can we do? It's not easy because there are so many artists out there. To get more visibility there are some tools/tactics we can use.
Each platform has its own special features, but they all require you to be up every day, posting and interacting every day. It takes a lot of time and it can sometimes kill the vibe, but it also puts you in touch with communities or building your own and that can also lift you up. But you have to be honest and deep. Flat, superficial content is not going to help you add value. Talk about your path, what it means to you, why and how you create. Maybe even help beginners. Tell stories. It also makes sense to use multiple platforms. But since social media is very time consuming, let's see what else we can do.
Make your artwork work for you. There are several platforms you can join to get your work published.
There are portals you can submit your work and you can win publications. Or maybe there is local magazine and they would like to write about you.
Make pictures for the restaurants near you, post them in Google. Talk to them if they need new photos. Make a Google business profile. Participate in local exhibitions and in local activities like photobooks of your town and stuff.
join competitions online. There are a lot of them. They're pretty dope since you also can wind awards and sometimes even some money. Check
- Sony world photography awards
- national geographic
- portrait photo awards
Your own website
Having content on social media is nice, but never underestimate the power of a website. Make it easy for people to read about you and check out your work. A website helps with all this. And you can add a shop and a blog to add even more value.
YouTube is definitely a great platform but also it's hard to be noticed there. Anyway it's good to think about it because you can create videos quickly from shootings or make a vlog about you. All this will support also your social media activity.
Museum and local exhibitions
Check out what your city has to offer, maybe there are other artists you could do an exhibition with, or a museum that might show your work if you approach them with a good concept. Or how about a pop-up exhibition somewhere? Cities often have a lot of support for artists.
Create something together with others to have a bigger audience and more fun.
Do you have a style? This information is based on my experiences and shows ways how to get noticed better and how to develop your own style and what that even means
What do we define as a signature style
The first thing that comes to mind is colour grading and editing. But there is so much more to what a signature is. From the beginning of my photography I thought I didn't have a signature style.
I worked very hard to find a style/colour grading that could work for all my images and I was super eager to find it. Because of this, I missed a lot of opportunities to really shape my signature. Many friends have told me that I already have a signature and that they can recognise my photos.
But I could not believe it until I saw all my photos in one big grid. Okay, so wait a minute. I have a signature, but it wasn't specific colours, it wasn't HDR editing, it wasn't what we typically mean when we talk about it. So what is a signature?
Here is a little list to keep that a bit shorter
- color grading
- type of mood
- being expessive
- shooting angle
- lens effects
- clothes of models
- type of models
... and there are many more factors
So whenever this question comes up, and whenever you ask yourself this question, you might want to make a list of the similarities in your images, and don't just think that the colour grading is the only thing. Obviously there is more to it than that.
Photography often isn't enough to really be seen, especially if it's something more subtle and niche. So what can we do to give our signature a boost? I'm going to give you a list of things to think about, and I'm sure it's not exhaustive.
- The artist story / manifest tell us who are you, what you do and why you do it.
- Drop some salt often we as artists also want to make something differend then others. for instance if we do landscape but make it completely blurry because we hate the HDR, then tell this
- Tell others how you achive a specific style make BTS and edit videos, all what takes us into your world, into how you want us to see the world.
- Focus on your niche when you drop the blurry landscape shoots into an competition you know they love the HDR, this wont be fun.
- Be a unique person for example, if your writing style and behavior underlines your work, that is perfect.