Recently I’ve been thinking about photography holistically – things like, how does my job contribute to society in general, and what’s my business most valuable asset in the eyes of my clients? That seems like a reasonably easy question to answer, but at the root it is far more complicated than taking beautiful pictures or capturing memories. And as I was tackling those large scale questions, I came to a quiet realization that it isn’t the big questions that need answering – it’s more the thousands of tiny questions that contribute to the big ones. These are the small decisions you make hundreds of times a day that you don’t even realize you’re making. Branding is all about addressing those implicit questions to connect with your audience in a more meaningful way than just stating the facts. When people say things like “You have to define your audience.” What they’re really saying is that you need to communicate what you do, who it’s for, who it isn’t for, what they do with it, why they want it, and how they can get it in the span of as few words as possible. That isn’t really a single question to be answered – who, what, and where are fairly straightforward, but the why has so many more implications attached. Why does someone hire a photographer? To celebrate a life event? To announce a change in lifestyle, circumstances, or location? To feel good about themselves? To preserve memories of a growing and changing family? To represent themselves and their career to the public? Because they enjoy their surroundings at a certain time of year? To mark a milestone? And many more reasons.
When we look at why people invest in creative services we understand where the value lies – and value is largely dictated by culture. So that being said, when you look at ‘market’ you really aren’t connecting with what creates value for your business – the people who connect with you on a fundamental value level.
Ok, so if that’s true, then there isn’t a single question to answer that will have customers knocking down your door, there are many, many simple everyday decisions that you can answer that will help your clients fully understand your value – things like, what’s hanging in your living room right now – is it a 5 year old family photo of your kids as toddlers? How much do you love your linked in profile photo – does it really represent you in your best light? These are not tangible concepts, and have to be demonstrated both intuitively and repeatedly in order for the ongoing success of your business. Value is not a set once and forget it kind of thing – it’s a process of show and tell.