For those of you who follow So Your Life Images on Facebook, you watched our live video feed last week where I talked about how we work with our clients to create their visual brand. Over this past summer we’ve helped our clients re-brand their business and launch new ventures. We’ve also helped individual clients define their personal brand as they assume a new role in their career or pursue new opportunities. Whether it’s a business, non-profit organization, or individual that we’re working with we go through the same steps to tell the story of their business, product, service or professional aspirations. So what are those steps?
Step 1. The First Date: Also known as the moment that I first meet the potential client(s), this first contact can happen: at a professional networking event; at a scheduled consult following a referral from a current client or finding us online; bumping into me while I’ve taken my office mobile (I’m writing this at my local public library in between appointments); or meeting me at one of our on-location events. Photography is an art form and artists produce our best work when we connect with our subject. The client also has to find out if I’m the photographer that understands and can ultimately visualize their story and its message. This step may take more than one meeting and involve many messages back and forth. If it turns out that I’m not the right fit I offer names of other photographers that may be a better choice for a client’s needs.
Step 2. The Storyboard: For me this is where the fun part of the process begins. With our client we take a closer look at the story and figure out what it should look like in a series of visual images. One of the most popular ways to do this is to use Pinterest boards to pull examples from across different websites. I also use an actual board in my office to “pin” ideas from industry and local magazines where clients may extend their marketing or look to be featured. This step can easily take a couple weeks if not a couple months depending on how many final images and looks the client needs.
Step 3. The Plan: Anyone who really knows me can tell you that I always operate with a plan and a schedule—and it's the hardest thing for me to let go of planning while on vacation. Visual branding sessions can be as simple as being shot in-studio with just the client and myself. Most sessions involve hair styling, makeup, several clothing changes, lighting, props and multiple locations. Planning keeps both the client and myself on schedule and helps the client budget for what their business needs today versus what it can afford in the future. We do plan multiple sessions over time for most of our clients to ensure fresh visual content and to spread cost.
Step 4. The Session(s): The time finally arrives to execute all of the plans and see for ourselves how our preparation has paid off. There should be very few surprises (if any) during the session helping clients feel more comfortable in front of the camera when it’s their time to shine. We’ve used the first three steps to build trust in each other—when I make adjustments during the session the client trusts that it’s in keeping with the overall look and vision. Personally this is my favorite step in the entire process because it’s the first time that I get to see how everything we have envisioned comes together in my viewfinder.
Step 5. The Polish: We narrow down all of the photos taken to the top selections from the sessions. We then edit the photos so that they reflect the overall look, feel, and style that the client is looking for in online presence and marketing materials. I’ll also suggest photos for a particular use that fit the storyline and templates provided for websites or print. This step can take anywhere from a week through a month depending on the volume of photos taken and customization required for the final images.
Step 6. The Delivery: For our clients, this is when all of the hard work comes together and is actualized. They get to see and use the final products and we get to celebrate with them when we see our work published.
Do you have a visual brand or images that convey who you are? Does your business have a visual story that shows what it does and what makes it unique from others in the same industry? It’s never too late (or too early) to start putting a visual brand together. Take the first step of thinking about what your ideal visual brand and photos would look like if you started in a new position or launched a new service/product today.