22 branding tools in our marketing arsenal

What’s in a brand? Turns out, there’s alot.

Several photographers recently asked me a few of the most helpful branding tools in our creative Denver wedding photographer arsenal. Since I like lists, especially when it comes to goals, things to do, and items to think about for improving our business, I’ve compiled a list of 22 branding tools in our marketing arsenal.

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Everything about our studio marketing/branding efforts is about communicating a consistent style. It has taken several years to build our brand and collateral, but in the end the clients see our efforts as a clear distinction between a hobby and a business. The numbers in the above image correspond to the notes below:

1. Me. No one else can be me. My style reflects a large part of who I am.

2. Pricing Menu. Know what you are worth and don’t be afraid to stick to it. This is the first item that makes it into a potential clients hands and I want it to reflect what we do. Designed by Purr Design, printed by PS Print.

3. Sample albums. It is easy for a wedding photographer to show a few great images from a dozen weddings. But completed albums (plural) are important to show consistency, regardless of the weather on the wedding day, the cost of a wedding dress or flowers, or prestige of venue. We work with Graphistudio for many of our wedding client albums.

4. Postcards. Keeping personal contact is sooo important. These WHCC 5″ square cards have an awesome pearl finish which make ‘thank you’ notes shine!

5. Business cards. This single most important piece of marketing collateral. It reflects style, branding, and has all the right ways to get in contact with me. If I was a piece of paper, front and back, this is me. Alan & Janet from Trion Promotion and Design hooked us up.
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6. iPhone. Clients can expect to hear back from me within 24 hours. Also, I love to share my portfolio on my iPhone if people ask.

7. Parent albums. After all is said and done, parents want to remember the wedding, too. While they many not want to hang up a bunch of photos on the wall, a brag book is the perfect way for them to share your work…. all in a way that scale’s itself in a big way over time.

8. Stickers. Custom logo stickers add a simple & classy touch to ordinary packaging materials. Less can be more. Kudos to Trion Promotion and Design, once again.

9. A bomb-proof contract. Lawyer-approved and created by a graphic designer, this is the single most important piece of paper in any business transaction. We got our start by working with Photographer’s Toolkit.
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10. Lens bag. Actually a Gregory bag intended for a woman’s purse, it also makes a great small camera & lens bag. The embroidering was about $35…. more than the cost of the bag. This thing is on my back when I’m out on engagement sessions, portrait sessions, and shooting weddings. It’s my alternative to a shootsac which has several soft zippers to keep gear lenses, card cases, wallet, keys all safe when I’m on the run. I generally choose to hold my camera, sans strap, and choose to keep things simple and this works as a simple solution. Got it from REI.

11. Jacket. I like black. And I like staying warm in Colorado. This tool serves a triple purpose. This Costco jacket was purchased less than the cost of the embroidery on it. But the total value is far more, considering the awareness it brings when I’m running errands to the bank or post office. I booked clients just from the conversation which started about the logo on the jacket.

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12. CD tin. It holds up to 5 discs, makes it safe to mail high-resolution digital negatives in, and represents our signature aluminum inspired from Apple. Got ’em from American-Digital.
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13. Paper clips. Yes, they are our logo color. Little things get noticed by detail-oriented people. Many of our brides love details.

14. Mailing Box. Perfect for mailing digital negatives, our pricing sheets. White tissue paper to wraps the disk inside with custom sticker outside. Get yours at Creative Gift Packaging.

15. Ribbon. Perfect for wrapping albums. Coordinated with logo colors. Purchased at Costco.

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16. Office sign. We never forget who we work for.

17. Rubber stamp. Great to stamping boxes, folders. A cost-effective alternative to stickers on colored boxes.

18. FlipVideo. Great for filming digital shorts during workshops, speakers, or tutorials. Also, ever watch yourself shoot with clients? It’ll improve the way you move more than you think (I learned this from a recent Mike Larson workshop).

19. MacBook Pro. On the go editing, sharing photos, and the digital darkroom of Kern-Photo. Tons of RAM and hard drive space make editing a breeze.

20. Fleece blanket. Goes under the 23″ Apple cinema display for important wedding reception slideshows, a huge part of our word-of-mouth marketing effort. Blanket serves dual role for wrapping around monitor in traveling case.

21. Watermark. Reinforces the brand on every image we post on the blog or Facebook. Also, keeps people from ripping off our images.

22. Checks. Small-buisness banks will print your name on a check, generally for free, which reflects far more of a professionalism than a personal checks. Also, many banks will provide you with a rubber stamp to endorse your business name on the back of a check. A side note, this is a framed check from our most successful month.

What’s missing?
Cameras, lenses, lighting equipment won’t do as much for your business as marketing efforts. Investing in good branding materials will make you more money than a fancy lens or camera ever will.

A few tips if you are just starting out in your branding: choose a logo that reproduces as well in embroidery, in black in white, and in print as it does for the web. That is about $500 in advice, trust us. It is easy to make something that looks good on screen, but when you make a rubber stamp or patch out of a logo, it may not look as good as it does on-screen, especially those important tiny details in your logo. In addition, expect slight differences will result between color spaces (RGB vs CMYK) and manufacturer’s colors. Work with good people and you’ll have no problem. Work with people that will “give you a good deal,” well… that may be another issue.

24 Responses to “22 branding tools in our marketing arsenal”

  1. jamie delaine — January 16, 2010 @ 4:43 pm (#)

    awesome post!

  2. Trish Eberlein — January 16, 2010 @ 5:08 pm (#)

    Thank you ! Great info!

  3. Gino Siller Photography — January 16, 2010 @ 5:24 pm (#)

    You’re a branding genius!!! I’m embarrassed at my stuff now. Some of its just too pretty, I know Nicole must be responsible for some if it.

  4. Jennifer Schumacher — January 16, 2010 @ 6:43 pm (#)

    RJ, You are awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Kayla — January 16, 2010 @ 7:19 pm (#)

    I LOVE this!! I am huge into branding and marketing! Ya’ll have done an awesome job! I really love the CD tins!

  6. s h e r r y — January 16, 2010 @ 9:28 pm (#)

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing!! I love how EVERYTHING has your logo on it. šŸ™‚

  7. r.j. — January 16, 2010 @ 10:12 pm (#)

    A few notes: Nicole had a slight bit to do with the branding. After all, she is a woman with distinct taste for details.

  8. Kari Douma — January 17, 2010 @ 2:20 pm (#)

    LOVE IT! GREAT article!

  9. Alan — January 17, 2010 @ 4:20 pm (#)

    Nice job RJ!. I loved the photo and the effect of scrolling down the image to see your feet and then have the text lead off with YOU! Yes all our businesses are a reflection of ourselves and this is a nice job of doing what you do best.

  10. alec vanderboom — January 18, 2010 @ 9:34 am (#)

    thanks for the informative post man. Great great stuff you’ve got going on.

  11. Jennifer Moline, PsPrint — January 18, 2010 @ 10:29 am (#)

    Thanks for including PsPrint as one of your preferred vendors. I agree that pricing menus are vital to a company’s branding, and indeed, the design and quality of your marketing materials reflects your business as a whole.

    http://www.psprint.com/sales-data-sheets

  12. Steve Stanton — January 18, 2010 @ 11:29 pm (#)

    Dude, this is what it’s all about!! I love you sharing your heart to all of us! Your stuff is grade A gorgeous, and the info is most helpful and vital!

  13. Kristi Crosson — January 19, 2010 @ 11:20 am (#)

    My branding arsenal is just getting started. I have:
    1. ME
    2. Business cards
    3. Album- (working on the multipples)
    4. Blackberry- also thank you for the reminder to put my favorite wedding and engagement images on it!
    5. Contract- I use the one from Photographers Toolkit for now.
    6. Stickers- with bbusiness name for packaging
    7. Folders

    I am not in LOVE with my logo right now. I hope to rebrand after this wedding season. I like its simplicity, but it leaves a little to be desired. Not sure where to go though, and right now I am not able to afford to have a pro rebrand me.

  14. Lydia — January 19, 2010 @ 10:35 pm (#)

    Awesome advice and so helpful! I’m in the process of branding myself and am so inspired to go all out and do it well!

  15. Scott Stebner — January 20, 2010 @ 10:20 am (#)

    Love it!!! Seriously, a workshop worthy topic!

  16. julia — January 22, 2010 @ 11:11 am (#)

    beautiful. thanks for sharing. where do you get the parent albums made?

  17. Sarah Cutright — February 3, 2010 @ 2:14 pm (#)

    RJ, I’m always impressed with your altruistic attitude and willingness to share!
    Thank you for posting these photos of your lovely branding!

  18. Emily Weiss — February 16, 2010 @ 12:39 pm (#)

    Thanks so much for sharing all this great info. Given me lots to think about and ideas on waht to re-work for the future.

  19. Kristina Marshall — February 16, 2010 @ 8:08 pm (#)

    Fantastic post! I’m always looking for new ways of branding my newer portrait studio and you have some great ideas – things I never would have thought of like the fleece blanket under the monitor at receptions. I also love the aluminum tins you use for your CD cases. Great idea!

  20. Ben Finch — June 17, 2010 @ 7:15 pm (#)

    RJ… very nice man! I’m thoroughly enjoying browsing through your work & your “For Photographers” posts are wonderful resources. I’ll definitely point some people toward these resources. Hope you are doing well… look forward to seeing you again this year in NOLA for PartnerCon. Let’s share a meal this time!

  21. Teresa Nicole — February 23, 2011 @ 11:31 am (#)

    This is a fantastic post! I’m trying to tweak my branding and your branding is spot on. Clean and fresh for sure!

  22. cribtales — February 25, 2012 @ 10:09 am (#)

    Though I don’t shoot weddings (babies and children portraiture), this is a wonderful resource for compiling my marketing materials. I found you on Pinterest, but bonus, you are a Denver tog, too!

  23. Moses de los Santos — September 13, 2012 @ 11:40 am (#)

    Thanks RJ.

    Its strange how we photographers tend to start out…accumulating gear, swapping out cameras, lenses until we wind up investing a consiereable amount of dollars into our tools. I am at the point now where I MUST get serious about the branding side of things. I should know this as a technology/marketing person.

    Here is a a site for logo designs that will blow you away:

    http://www.logomyway.com

    It is a a site where you open up a contest, minimum $200 and designers from ALL over the world submit designs. You ONLY choose the design that you love and provide them with feedback until you are happy. Once you are happy with a design you approve it and award the funds. They then email you all EPS, TIFF, JPeg, files etc. I received several hundred designs before I chose my current design for diamondvalleyphotography.com.

    I have marketing friends in multi-million dollar hitech companies that use logomyway.com.

    Its a phenomenal resource and business model.

    Hope this helps.

    Moses

  24. Maria — July 5, 2014 @ 9:57 am (#)

    Fantastic post! Iā€™m always looking for new ways of branding my professional tools and you have some great ideas.

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