Today's guest post is from Mary Elizabeth, the Owner of Mary Elizabeth Creative. Mary is a DC based creative consultant, specializing in brand and lifestyle photography, content creation, and social media management. having worked with local lifestyle brands, restaurants and bloggers, she is well versed in the needs of businesses new and seasoned, and wants to help you bring your vision to life!
Below Mary is sharing 3 steps for how to get started creating a strong visual brand...
When starting a business, there are so many things to keep in mind. From financials to networking to all of the creative aspects; it can get a bit (pronounced: very) overwhelming. And now, living in a digital age, one’s online and visual presence is incredibly important as well. I’ve found, in my own work, that having consistent, high quality brand imagery is absolutely crucial for building your brands overall image.
As a creative consultant and photographer, specializing in brand, product and lifestyle, I spend most of my day looking at Instagram (and all the social medias, really) and thinking critically about various brands' and their digital strategies. I find that there are a lot of entrepreneurs who have social media accounts because they feel like they need to (and let’s be real, they do), but they don’t give them the time and attention needed. It really is a full time gig (hence why I have a job) to manage content and grow engagement levels, but in the world we live in, it really is a must. If you’re a busy entrepreneur or a “9 to 5-er” with a side hustle, it can be overwhelming to try and create a strong, emotive digital and visual presence, while managing everything else your business requires. So, here are some tips as to how to define your brand voice, and make sure that your brand photography enhances that voice.
Step One: Decide on your brand voice.
This is likely something you’ve already given some thought to, as brand voice translates through many aspects of your work. Your messaging, your website, your business cards; all of these and more contribute to the overall feel of your brand. You have to think about what it is your brand actually does, but also how do you want your brand to make people feel? Making a list of these feelings and emotions can be an easy way to hone in on the type of imagery you want to use to evoke these emotions within your audience.
Step Two: Do your research.
Deciding how to start upping your imagery game can be a bit daunting. Camera’s can be really expensive, learning how to use a camera takes time, and that photographer who you follow obsessively on Instagram is a bit out of your budget. Where should you begin? Personally, through brands I’ve worked with, I’ve found that it ends up being a really personal choice. Some find that creating the content themselves is the best way to have their vision realized. Others find that trying to make time to create consistent content is exhausting and takes away from their preferred aspects of their business. Also, as with all parts of entrepreneurship, it’s okay to change your mind. Begin creating your own content and find you just don’t enjoy it; start looking into hiring a photographer, on a project basis. Or maybe you start out with a photographer and aren’t satisfied? Try your hand at shooting for yourself. Regardless of the avenue you go, make sure that the images you’re ending up with are representative of you, your business and your brand voice.
Step Three: Be willing to evolve.
Part of entrepreneurship is constant reflection. What could I be doing better? How can I take this to the next level? This is what allows entrepreneurs to grow and keeps us from getting too bogged down in the day-to-day grind (honestly, I recommend asking yourself these questions, or others that resonate with you, at least once every 2-3 weeks, just as a check in. It’s super helpful). As with other aspects of your business, your imagery should evolve and grow as well. If you’re a party planner, and you just post photo after photo of glittery, confetti flat-lays, eventually, your clientele will stop being as excited to see your content as when they first started following you. Now, this isn’t to say that one week you post all the glitter and confetti and then two weeks later you’re posting photos of dark, moody flower arrangements. The idea is to evoke the same emotions, with new, unique and engaging imagery.
Ultimately, however you decide to create content for your brand, just be sure that it’s representative of you and what you want your brand to be. There is nothing more powerful in branding then having a voice that speaks to people in a real, humanistic way. People want to feel connected to the products and services they provide, and your number one priority should be to have your own, personal voice and point of view shine through in everything you do.