Developing your brand {Part 1}: Your values and messages

I feel immensely privileged to have been asked to teach on branding and marketing as part of a new business workshop for The Royal Photographic Society. Looking forward to the ‘Introduction to Business for Photographers’ course in April and June this year, I thought I would share a little taste of what I will be teaching there.

I’m now in my forth year of full time business, following several years of working with photographic clients alongside another full time job. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to share a few thoughts on branding and marketing from my own experience and from the wise advice I’ve has gained from others in the industry. These are the posts you can look forward to:

Developing your brand

  • Part 1: Your values and messages
  • Part 2: Your brand identity and strategy

Developing your marketing strategy

  • Part 1: Your website
  • Part 2: Sharing your work – Blogs and Social Media

So let’s get started.

values and messages graphic

To set yourself apart and attract the right clients in an overcrowded marketplace, you need both a unique and a clear message for your business. In this and the next post, I go into the steps you need in developing a successful brand.

What is a brand? It’s a promise to your clients of what your business will deliver. Defining a brand based on your own values and marketing should set you on the right path.

At the heart of your brand are your values, and your idea of how you want your business, service and product to be perceived. These become your brand’s messages. Identifying and researching carefully what you want to do, your ideal clients and your competition will allow you to develop a brand that will make clear, effective promises to the people you want to reach.

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a) Specialise.
In today’s noisy world, it pays to have a clear, focused message and to be seen as an expert. The easiest way to do this is to specialise. You might want to pursue a couple of different avenues (for example wedding and commercial work) but then you should brand these separately. It’s really important to identify what you do and do not want to do, as well as what type of client you want to work with.

b) Develop Your Photographic Style
Developing a distinct and original style is key to setting yourself apart from your competition. It is important to consider why a client might pick you over another equally competent photographer. Being authentic both in your artistic and business decisions is a good way of building a business unique to you. Being truly passionate about every aspect of what you do will set you apart. Really focus on your own vision and build your business around that. Originality is borne from the unique combination of things that inspire and attract you and how you combine and use them. Inspiration can come from any walk of life, so don’t limit your inspiration from just looking within your own industry.

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c) Establish your ideal client
Now you know what you really want to do, who is your ideal client? Explore critically who you would like to work with and why. Identify what service you think they are looking for. A significant part of your business effort should be targeted to reaching out and connecting with your ideal clients, so understand what their everyday habits might be. Help your ideal clients connect with you by simply and clearly showing those things that will resonate with them in your marketing efforts.

d) Research, research, research.
Once you know where you are aiming to go, you need to research your idea fully. You should investigate your potential clients, the market and demand for the service and product you are providing, and the habits and position of your competitors. Research how much providing your service and product will cost and what promotion you might need to engage with your ideal clients. It’s important to know you will never stop refining. You’ll need to adapt and move your business forward in response to the changing needs and parameters of the marketplace and as your own focus develops. It is essential that you make learning part of your lifestyle.


This article was written by Ria Mishaal ARPS – website | facebook | twitter | instagram

To learn more about how to set up and run a successful photography business, why not sign up for the RPS course ‘Introduction to Business for Photographers’

Ria Mishaal
Ria Mishaal is an artist and photographer, exploring the capture of light and love in still images. She loves trees, authenticity, and working with her hands. She likes to be organised. She loves to get lost in stories, breathing fresh air and learning.

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