creating a strong, consistent brand for your business
I sat down with Julia Mary, the brand photographer and owner behind Julia Mary Photography, about how we as entrepreneurs can create strong, consistent brands. Check out the video below to find out how you can implement these strategies into your business!
What do you do and what kind of clients do you serve? how long have you been in business for?
Julia: I started photography in high school with portraits and families and transitioned to weddings. I took a few years off and then after 4 years and jumped back in! I took a year to explore my options and worked with many different clients. In doing this, I found that brand photography was the one that really stayed with me. I love working with female entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, and capturing visuals for their brands!
WHY STRATEGY MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR BRAND PHOTOS
Having a unique approach to brand photography and new imagery is so important, but not always executed properly. It’s important to know the answers to these questions when implementing new brand imagery:
What your process/workflow is
Who your ideal client is
Who you are and what you do in your business
What do you want your audience to know about you?
What makes you and your brand unique?
What do you want your photos to accomplish?
you need all 3 of these elements to create a brand that connects and converts (what I like to call the triple threat)
It’s best to start out with good, strong copy and build from there with both website design and brand photography.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AND CREATE A BRAND PHOTOGRAPHY SHOOT WISH-LIST THAT ENCOMPASSES WHAT YOU REALLY NEED AND ARE LOOKING FOR
Filling out a brand questionnaire is extremely helpful for brand photographers to figure out what you need (who you are, what you do, how you do it).
Photo Directive – breaks down the visual stories for your brand (can be who you are as a person featuring your strategic process)
Shot List/Prop List– make sure if you have specific spots on your website that you need a photo for you pass the dimensions along to your photographer. It’s best if you get your designer involved to some extent before the shoot
People get to know you through your imagery
Showing who you are, incorporating some tools of trade, and featuring a few elements of your process is a great place to start
HOW BUSINESS OWNERS THAT DON’T HAVE SOMETHING CONCRETE/VISUAL CAN WORK WITH A BRAND DESIGNER TO TELL THEIR STORIES THROUGH BRAND STRATEGY
This can be tricky! But there are more visual stories that are available to tell then you might think.
Writing out each element of your process from beginning to end can be very helpful for people who have a business that is not as visual. Some of those elements might be virtual things too (spreadsheets, handouts, calendars, etc.). Things that can be printed off and displayed in a tangible way can be very useful! You just have to get a bit creative!
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT SEE THE VALUE OF INVESTING IN HIGH QUALITY IMAGERY RIGHT NOW? WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT HAVING STRONG BRAND IMAGERY?
You run the risk of being overlooked and not being taken seriously by potential clients. Imagery is very powerful and creates an emotional connection with your clients. The same goes for your copy, but no one will take the time to read your copy if they aren’t pulled into your website or feed initially through good imagery that is on-brand.
We live in a very visual world. Even people who are not artists know what good quality imagery (or bad quality imagery) looks like. Images are the virtual store-front to your business… make sure it looks professional! If you don’t take it seriously, why would anyone else?
FOR SOMEONE WHO IS JUST STARTING OUT, HOW CAN THEY SHOW UP FOR THEIR BRAND EVEN IF THEY AREN’T READY FOR THAT INVESTMENT?
When you’re starting out, you have a lot of exploring to do, so it is a good idea to continue to learn, explore, and develop yourself and your business before you invest a lot of money in brand photography.
Before you can know your ideal client and exactly what you offer them, no professional design, copy, or photos will support you for the long term because who you serve and what you want to offer may change. Take time to get super clear on your strategy and process first, then consider investing in brand photography.
You can still jump-start your visuals, copy, and design when you are just starting out though. It is still important to create a strong foundation to build upon down the road!
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WEBSITE DESIGN AND BRAND DESIGN?
Strategic Brand Design: This is very important because if there is no strategy involved in the design process, it means they’re not taking a deep dive into what their ideal client’s needs are and what pain points need to be solved. This will prevent the designer from making strategic design decisions and from attracting those ideal clients.
what deliverables should i be looking for from my brand designer?
A Color Palette with hex codes, CMYK, RGB, and Pantone values
Font pairings (depending on the font license agreement they may be able to transfer the actual font files over to you)
Brand imagery inspiration
All files delivered in PNG, JPG, and PDF formats
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN HIRING A DESIGNER?
Look at what they specialize in, whether it be industry specific or style specific. Find someone who delivers amazing results and has great testimonials and a robust portfolio.
HOW THE STRATEGIC BRANDING DESIGN AND WEBSITE DESIGN PROCESS WORKS:
You can hire someone to take care of all of it at once, but you also can complete the project phases. It is best to stick with the same designer through all the phases so that everything remains cohesive as the phases are completed.
WHAT IS A DESIGN PET PEEVE THAT YOU’RE SEEING HAPPEN IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY RIGHT NOW?
Script fonts are everywhere right now and every brand seems to think they need one. It’s not the right feel for every brand and sometimes it can actually cheapen the look if used improperly. If you do have a beautiful script font in your brand toolkit, make sure to pay attention to the spacing between the letters (there shouldn’t be any space between the letters- the script font should connect).
Another more general pet peeve of mine is when you go to someone’s website and they are in an industry where design is of the utmost importance, you expect to see a certain level of design there; especially if they charge a higher price point. If the website design does not reflect that price point, then a lot of money could be left sitting on the table as a result.
STEPS THAT NEW BUSINESS OWNERS CAN TAKE TO SET THEMSELVES UP FOR SUCCESS WHEN IT COMES TO BRAND AND WEBSITE DESIGN
There are a ton of resources that can help business owners get on their feet. Adding a few, high quality stock images into your website and/or social media feeds can be helpful along with mini branding photo shoots. Templates for copy-writing, semi-custom brand templates, and social media templates can also really help you create a strong foundation to build upon from the get-go.
YOUR LOGO IS NOT YOUR BRAND
Logos are just a piece of your whole brand, like a puzzle. Having a main logo, sub-mark, a sub logo, color palette, and a font hierarchy should all be considered the “bare minimum” when it comes to creating your brand design. Ideally you should be able to cover up the logo and still be able to recognize the brand because the brand as a whole it has such a unique look and feel.
HOW TO MAXIMIZE BRANDING ON-AND-OFFLINE
Print Collateral- business cards, thank you stationery, welcome & investment guides
Jess Jordana’s Promplate Shop: https://jessicajordana.com/shop/
Julia Mary’s Mini Branding Sessions: https://www.julia-mary.com/mini-sessions
Follow Julia on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_juliamary/
Semi-Custom Brand Shop: https://www.queenikathleeni.com/shop-coming-soon
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I’m Katie, the brand strategist, designer, dreamer, and entrepreneur behind Artful Brands. Dreamy typefaces, clean layouts, and soft color palettes are my love language— but more importantly designing strategic brands that book.