I’m so happy to be a guest writer on Cassie’s blog today! Before we get into our topic about branding for creatives and setting yourself apart in a saturated market, I thought I’d share a little bit about me…
I’m a graphic designer in Madison, Wisconsin. I started my business to help entrepreneurs grow through cohesive and well-developed design. I love helping small businesses find their unique style to build a brand that will make them shine. In doing so, I design their identities, brand guidelines, and marketing materials that can continue to help them grow and reach their audience. I thought it would be beneficial to teach you some of the ways you and your business can stand out.
Stand Out in a Saturated Market of Creative Entrepreneurs
Looking to start a business? Want to turn your hobby into a career or “side hustle?”
If you’re a serial creative like myself, you may fall into what the industry might call a “creative entrepreneur.” This could include photographers, graphic designers, makers, and event planners – just to name a few.
Depending on where you live, you may find that there’s a lot of other businesses doing the same thing(s) as you. It might be intimidating to enter into a market of people just like you. But here’s the thing… YOU are different, YOU are unique, and YOUR BRAND deserves to shine!
Let’s dive into some tips on how to create a memorable brand that stands out. These ideas can apply to people starting new or to those looking to elevate or rebrand.
Share Your Story
Be personable. Share your story. People love to hear about the person behind the business. Joel Comm, a well-known author/marketer, said “People buy from people they know, like, and trust.” Sharing your story gives people a way to build that foundation. Your clients will connect with your story in ways you wouldn’t imagine, even if it’s as simple as living in the same state or sharing a love of dogs.
Engage Your Audience
I’m thinking back to the hundreds of businesses I’ve come in contact with over the years… Some of those who have made a lasting impression with me were connections that were made or nurtured over social media. Engaging with our potential clients on social media is a great way to build a relationship without selling to them. Are you looking for a way to engage with their posts in a genuine way? You can complement their outfit, ask about where they are traveling, or ask how he proposed… such an easy ice breaker. This will definitely make you stand out among others in your field who aren’t being social. (Reminder: You’re not selling at this point. Just be conversational and let them come to you.)
Narrow your focus to stand out. Think of all the photographers out in the world. Now, think about how many different avenues in photography there are. You could be a wedding photographer, family/baby photographer, a branding photographer, a commercial photographer, a portrait photographer…
Okay, okay. I think you get my point. It’s really helpful to figure out what is your specialty and what you enjoy. Once you’ve narrowed things down, this will help you stand out compared to all the photography businesses in your area. The further you can niche down, the more unique you become.
SIDE NOTE: This was really hard for me to digest when I was first starting my business. I didn’t want to be stuck to one specific style of graphic design. However, as I grew, I naturally found my “niche.” So if you’re reading this and you’re not sure of how to niche down, don’t fret. It will come to you after some soul searching, or Cassie can help!
Choose Your Colors Wisely
Choosing colors is a great way to stand out. A lot of times, businesses think about color psychology when choosing their brand colors, but think twice before conforming to this methodology. What if most of the branding for photography businesses in your area use a “blush pink?” If you’re looking to stand out, I would pick a different color. A lot of brand recognition is based on colors, so this is a key element for your brand/business to be unique and recognizable.
Look at Your Fonts
We often recommend that people choose something unique when looking at the font or lettering in their logo. Do you see a lot of similar typography in the photography businesses in your area? If you’re looking at branding for something in the wedding industry or photography, it’s common to see a lot of script-like, handwritten fonts. Again, if standing out and being memorable is part of your mission, try to steer clear of what everyone else is doing.
Find a Unique Name
Think of a creative name that’s memorable. A lot of creative entrepreneurs use their name as a default when naming their business. While I’m not opposed to this idea because it gives you a really personal brand, I urge you to think about how many businesses in your area are “Photography by _______ ” or something along those lines. If you can come up with a clever or unique name, this can help you stand apart from the crowd (and even help you find an available domain URL and social media handles).
Strive to Be Timeless
I think there’s power in having a solid logo that stands the test of time. Avoid using those trendy marks that will make your logo go out of style quickly. What are these “trends” I’m referring to? Here are a few examples we’ve seen: watercolored florals, feminist hands, and scripts fonts that are so swoopy you can’t read them. If your brand/logo remains consistent through the years, you will stand out and be recognized. Your brand authority will be more prominent than those who have followed trends and, in turn, need to rebrand every couple of years.
I can’t stress enough how hiring a photographer can change everything. A lot of creative entrepreneurs start out using stock photos and even worse, free stock photos. This may seem like an economical choice, but if you’re using photos that everyone else is using, you’re not going to stand out at all. In fact, it might turn some people off. I recently did a brand photoshoot and I’m updating my website with all the new photos. It makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE. Be sure to take some photos of you, as well as the things (and colors) that speak to your brand, such as your laptop, glasses, or your favorite mug.
(If you’re actually a photographer, this may come simply for you, but don’t forget that you also need some photos of YOU on your site and in your marketing. So, hire a friend who can get some good images for you to show your face and allow your clients to get to know you!)
Icing on the Cake (My Favorite Part of Design)
Time to put everything together to elevate your client’s experience. Taking your marketing to the next level will really help you really make your mark. In my business, I help brands create a cohesive brand experience and apply their style across different business touch points. If you can create great components of your brand, your clients will be impressed with you and enjoy the journey.
Here are some branded elements you may want to create for your brand:
- Creative pieces (like a brochure) that shows what you do and how you can serve them.
- Free PDF download that’s a really valuable piece of branded content, such as “6 Ways to Prepare for Your Photoshoot.”
- Branded proposals, quotes, or pricing sheets.
- Kickoff questionnaire for them to fill out about what they’re looking for.
- Welcome packet that walks your client through your process and/or allows them to get to know you better.
- Personalized snail mail as a “thank you!”
These are all things that we help create for our clients and we love getting to apply their style to different components. It’s important that you remember to make all your designs match your brand and that the pieces all work together.
How to Reach Carly of Sprout Studio
I hope you enjoyed reading through this guide on branding for creatives and how to set yourself apart in a saturated market. If you’re looking for more details on how your particular brand can stand out, I’d be happy to chat. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook, plus a great library of resources on Pinterest.
As a bonus, you can also sign up for our newsletter and receive our worksheet on elevating your brand. This is a great way for you to dive into your brand and think more about some of the ways you can be unique and stand out.
Big thanks to graphic designer, Carly Wilkie of Sprout Studio LLC, for dropping some knowledge bombs for us in today’s blog about branding for creatives.