Tag Archives: branding

The Independent Creative : Facebook

I am so excited for this post in my series, The Independent Creative. It’s the very first guest post on the Three Fifteen Design blog, and I couldn’t be more excited that Alison Murray is the guest. Alison (or Ali as she’s known around these parts) is an amazing photographer based in Oregon. She & her husband Matt run Murray Photography together, and she’s just launched her new brand, Portraits By Ali, for her beauty portraits and senior portrait work.

(photo by Jim & Ravyn Photographers)

When I first met Ali, we talked a lot about Facebook. I was blown away that she & Matt didn’t use a blog to share their work, but instead, used Facebook as their main way to communicate with clients and potential clients. In the same conversation, I think Ali was a bit baffled that I only had 31 likes on my Facebook business page. Since then, she has given me so much perspective on using Facebook to build brand power, and I couldn’t be more grateful. I now see Facebook as an essential part of my brand experience. The knowledge she’s shared has been invaluable, and I’ve asked her to share a bit with the readers here!

315: When did you start using Facebook as a main source of online communication with your clients & fans?

AM: We started the Murray Photography business page in early 2009, and quit blogging in 2010. Our decision to quit blogging was easy once we saw the power of Facebook. Around that time, I realized we had the visual content to share, but I was taking so much time to write the posts. Once we started using Facebook, we noticed immediately that our clients responded more to the micro-blogging format. Instead of linking to an outside source, they could see the info & photos right away.

I love interacting with people more than telling a story with words. Facebook allowed us to keep a professional presence all while allowing it to be more personal. I could use a friendlier voice that was more in line with our brand.

315: Why do you love it so much?

AM: Facebook is so quick. It’s a good source of social information. As much as we love sharing, we also love learning about other people in our network. The tagging capability on all sides is really beneficial. Unlike a blog comment, which can be replied to via email, Facebook lets you respond right there, and it send a notification to the commenter. It’s convenient. I’ve been on Facebook since 2003, so I’ve had ten years to become familiar with the system. If there’s a better program, show me. But for us, it’s the best way to reach our ideal clients.

315: How does FB allow you to be deliberate with the message your sending to others? 

AM: There are so many ways we’re ensuring we’re being deliberate, and infusing the page with our brand. Facebook gives you many tools to make your page unique. We always fill the header with an image. It’s a relevant image that we really love at the time. We never leave an image up for more than a month or two, and the image itself is a way to show potential clients our style. We use our logo (or a logo element) as the actual profile photo. This means when we’re using Facebook as Murray Photography or Portraits by Ali, our icon is showing next to our comment. We’re creating brand recognition within our network. Another way we are using Facebook to grow our brand is by keeping conversations going. If someone comments on our wall or on a photo, we’re sure to follow-up with them to say thank you. We also love the tagging capabilities, and the option to promote certain posts.

315: Let’s talk about using Facebook to advertise. You mention loving the option to promote certain posts … I’d love to hear a bit more. 

AM: Because our business is 95% referral based, we don’t feel a strong pull towards paying for traditional advertising. However, we are big fans of the Facebook Promote posts. If there’s a post or session I’m really proud of, I’ll promote it. Generally it’s a $5.00 investment, and we can control who sees the post. It can be shared just our fans, or friends of our fans to reach a wider audience. Big announcements are a great time to use the promotion tools. The small investment means hundreds or even thousands of people will see that post. With all of that said, we use it sparingly. By using Facebook normally for most information, and using the promotion tools for big announcements, we aren’t overwhelming or annoying our audience. At the most, we’ve spent $20 in one month for promoted posts, and since it’s free to use Facebook, we find it an investment worth making.

315: How did you grow your fan base on FB?

AM: It’s grown very organically. Instead of advertising our Facebook page at weddings, we use tagging once we’re back in the studio. If a guest at a wedding wants to connect with us and see more work, we’ll give them our card and let them know we’re active on Facebook. We tag our brides & grooms, and after a really personal experience their wedding party will either like our page, or add us as friends. By tagging our clients, their friends can see our work, and they know immediately how to find us. Like I mentioned before, we are devoted to using Facebook as a conversation, and we love the interaction it allows. We meet people at weddings, but Facebook is how we stay connected & grow our network.

Our ideal clients are on Facebook … they speak the language, and we can use Facebook to keep them excited about their experience. From Facebook, we’ve been able to keep up with all of the exciting pre-wedding news, and it really helps us feel more connected. We love that’s it’s a very mutual platform. It’s a relationship building tool.

315: Is FB your only form of online presence? 

AM: While we love the ease of use, and the ability to communicate with our clients on Facebook, our website is what really sets us apart. Anyone can create a business page for Facebook, and utilize the tools to book clients, but our website is the love letter we’ve written to our clients. By working with Three Fifteen Design, we were able to build the site our brand, and it represents us & our core values. We use Facebook as another tool to introduce people to our brand, and when they reach our site, it speaks volumes about who we are as people and photographers. We’re also active on Instagram & Pinterest. Lastly, we love submitting our work to wedding blogs like Le Magnifique and Borrowed & Bleu. Because Facebook doesn’t allow users to pin directly from the site, we still have a presence on Pinterest from the user’s ability to pin from the individual wedding blogs.

315: Overall, how has FB allowed you to share your brand & the values you believe in?

For me, photography should be a really personal experience. Instead of keeping up with the ‘how to be the world’s best photographer’ books, we let our moral compass direct the way we run our business. When we wrote out our business plan, the directives were centered on giving clients the same experience we would want for ourselves. We are tech savvy enough to order our own prints, or a canvas, and we know our clients are as well. Instead of watermarking our images (the same images we’ll be giving our clients), we load un-watermarked images to Facebook. By offering the high-resolution files in all of our packages, we’re giving our clients access to what they want: their photos. It should be a kind relationship. We prepare our clients for their full experience, and part of that is the interaction we’ll be sharing on Facebook. By the time we’ve worked together their excitement translates into honest feedback and referrals.

Thank you So much Ali! So, now I want to hear from you … How are you reaching your ideal clients … is your blog your main powerhouse? How have you tailored your blog to your brand? Are you more of a Facebook lover like Matt & Ali?

While we’re on the topic of Facebook, you can find Portraits by Ali right here, Murray Photography here, and the Three Fifteen Design page right here.

(photos copyright Murray Photography)
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Stationery : Michelle Lange

At this point, I am almost ready to pack my bags and move to the east coast … sure, I’d miss my hubby, but I feel like my life would be full of sunshine if I were around Michelle Lange every day!! This girl is so bright & bubbly … I have loved her project so much.

Last week, her stationery suite left the studio (bittersweet). I was extra proud of this one … rubber stamps plus letterpress?!? YES PLEASE!

The suite included letterpress business cards, letterpress notecards, a custom logo stamp, and a custom pattern stamp. I love that pattern stamp! I decided that we couldn’t move forward without a metallic gold ink pad, and boy, I am so glad we went for it!

Since Michelle’s brand is really fresh & light, we used the striped pattern as a way to add a bit of whimsy & playfulness. By keeping the lines a little irregular, the lines aren’t too stuffy. The letterpress printing really picked up those (awesome imperfections. Printing on cotton makes my heart happy! Plus, gold business cards … yeah, Michelle is amazing!

Her logo stamp can be used on packaging & stationery, and the pattern stamp can be used anywhere!! I love it on the back of envelopes.

The Independent Creative : Little Things

Hooray for a new post in my series for the independent creative. So far, I’ve dicussed:

I thought it would be fun to talk about something, well, FUN! So much of our journey in being an independent creative revolves around the business side of our business … like accounting, and project management. BUT, what about the part of your business that your client actually sees? … the part they feel? Today, I want to talk a bit about the little things you can do to enhance you brand experience.

We will be getting way more into your brand identity in a later post, but for now, let’s say you have a logo you absolutely love, but now you’re wondering what you could do with your brand identity to show professionalism, consistency, and make your clients say, “WOW!”.

Custom rubber stamps: I have raved and raved about rubber stamps on my site. Almost every client who works with me leaves our project with a little arsenal of stamps. Sure, I like the way stamps look, but really, it’s the versatility that I love so much. With one stamp, you could decorate your stationery, packaging, and goodies for clients. One change of the ink color can give a branding piece a completely different look.

Premium Envelopes & Packaging: Using beautiful envelopes & packaging is another way to present your work in a professional way. With so much of the creative industry switching to digital (whether it’s photography, email, etc.), there’s something to be said about the tangible goods our client’s receive. Paper Source is my favorite place for beautiful envelopes (nearly every size/color you could imagine). When sending items like dvd’s or other products, it’s great to present them in packaging that speaks to your brand. I love referring clients to Bags & Bows Online, Kraft & Jute, and Uline for packaging. Again, by picking a packing system for your brand, you’re creating consistency.

Handwritten Correspondence: This goes hand-in-hand with the personalized packaging … Sending hand-written correspondence to your clients makes them feel special. Pairing a hand-written card with a beautiful envelope, and sealing it with a little stamp is a branded piece that goes a long way.

Buy a Domain: Out of everything, this is probably the least expensive way to add major brand power. When a client gets an email from so-and-so@gmail.com it looks less professional than info@so-and-so.com … The same can be said with sending your client to your blog with a WordPress address versus your own address. Buying a domain is easy, inexpensive, and gives you the opportunity to own your brand. Namecheap.com is my favorite place to buy domains. Their customer service is out of this world.

Business Cards: Aside from networking events, business cards are an amazing way to ask for referrals. Some people have a really hard time asking their clients to refer them to their friends. Sure, once they’ve had an amazing experience, they will be singing your praises, but your business cards might give you a little confidence to ask. After working with a client, and delivering their products (or thank you card), it’s perfectly appropriate to put a few cards in the envelope with a little note telling them how much you loved working with them, and that you love referrals. The cards might sit in a drawer all year, but what’s more likely is that you’ll remind them of their excellent experience, and you’ll be at the front of their brain next time they talk about the kind of services you provide.

Consistency: Above everything, having these pieces to carry the message of your brand will create consistency. Clients love an experience they can count on. When you’ve educated them about how personal working with an independent creative can be, it helps your entire industry.

They Remember You: I always say that it’s not about being better than everyone else, it’s about your clients knowing that you’re the only one who can do what you do. Anything you can do to establish brand power and brand recognition is a huge plus. So many memories are triggered by our senses, and the correspondence with your clients is a great way to create positive memories.

It Shows That You Care: Sure, a $1.25 card & a stamp doesn’t really cost much on your end, but to your client, it’s much more than the small investment. They see that you’ve taken time to invest in your brand … to invest in their experience. They could have chosen anyone, but they chose to work with you … and just as easily, they could choose someone else next time. It’s about reminding them that you are the perfect fit for their needs. When you care, they remember it!

As you can see, I don’t put a beautiful brand identity above a wonderful customer experience. While having a beautiful physical representation of your brand is important, the care you show your clients is what they will remember most. What little things have you done to create a personalized experience for your clients? Is there anything I didn’t cover here that you’ve found super helpful? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments.

My next post in The Independent Creative series will be a guest post!! So excited to invite my first contributor to the blog. It’s sure to be a great post!!

Brand Identity : Tiffany Farley

 

So so so excited to start sharing this project!! Tiffany Farley is one of the most talented photographers I’ve ever worked with. She’s a visionary! When we first met, she told me how she felt inspired to do something different … truly different. So, she took a step back to look at all of the pieces, and decided to run with those pieces that left her feeling inspired to her core.  The result is ‘Connection Portraits’ … a personal photography experience, centered around women. It’s about connecting with these women, and using her photographs to tell their unique stories.

The identity that would reflect her new venture needed to be professional, and inviting. It needed to feel classic & comfortable, much like a warm up of your favorite coffee. While Tiffany has a love for classic & traditional things, she also wanted a modern flare to the brand.

A cute little icon for the paper suite …

I absolutely love this brand identity, but it’s probably more to do with how much I’ve loved working with Tiffany! We’re just wrapping her new site this week, and her paper suite left the studio yesterday. This means, there’s a ton more to come … Until then, be sure to stop by her blog to leave a little love!

Design Board : Really Handmade

I wanted to be sure I shared our latest design board before heading out of town for the week … We’re working on an exciting brand identity project for Amy of Really Handmade. If you’ve ever met Amy, or read her blog, you’ve realized she’s full of personality … and super freaking talented!

Amy believes in quality handmade, artisan goods. She’s working a really amazing project (we’ll let her tell you all about it), and when her new site launches, she’ll be offering project templates, handmade goods, and plenty of sewing awesomeness. Overall, we’re keeping things classic and rustic. Nothing expected, nothing cliche. Rob Alan is the head honcho on this website/blog project, and I love that he’s including us to create the brand identity piece! I cannot wait to share what we have in the works.

Brand Identity : Three Fifteen Design

Happy Monday! I hope you all had an amazing New Years Eve! Jim and I spent the evening at home with a bottle of champagne & a movie on the couch. We heard fireworks at midnight … toasted to an amazing year … and enjoyed a New Year’s kiss!

I am so so so excited to share our latest project … We’ve been going through a rebrand for ourselves! 2011 was an insanely amazing year for the studio, and before we knew it, the year was almost over. When we first developed our original logo, we were more focused on working with new clients, and we ignored the fact that we hadn’t really connected with it much. Over the last 4 months, we took an intense look at our overall brand, and worked to develop an identity that would represent us in the best way possible.

I’m so happy with the way the logo turned out. It feels modern, yet classic … It’s detailed and feels strong. Since we want to attract clients from all realms of the creative world, we didn’t want to turn anyone away with specific graphic elements. By using the numbers as the graphic element, we’re creating a way for others to connect with the brand and remember our logo. We kept it clean with a simple charcoal color and decided to let the tagline speak to what we do. Overall, this just feels so much more like us. It’s amazing to have a new identity that we truly connect with & are proud of!

We can’t wait to share our new stationery & other branding pieces soon.

We are currently offering one-on-one brand reviews and consultations. If you’re considering rebranding, let’s talk first. Maybe you just need a little help with strategy, or you’re not sure about how to best represent your brand visually. We can talk on the phone, Skype or in-person to give you some perspective. Just send me a hello, and we can talk about the details.

We’re currently booking brand identity clients for 2012. Though, we don’t accept every client that comes our way: we love working with creatives who are passionate about what they do. We love clients who are crazy about design and understand that branding is more than a fancy logo. If that’s you, let’s talk!

 

Design Board : Lovisa Photo

Happy Monday! We hope you had an amazing holiday weekend. It was our first Christmas away from family … but we are feeling so blessed that we had some amazing friends to spend the weekend with. We ate way too much food, and even watched some sappy holiday movies.

We’re really excited to be back in the studio this week to wrap up the last week of 2011. It’s crazy to think this year is already almost over. We wanted to pop in to share an awesome design board for our latest branding project. Dan & Erin of Lovisa Photo are absolutely wonderful, and this project has been the project I’ve been dreaming of!

Dan & Erin are amazing … They are two friends who found a common love of photography and set out on this business adventure together. They’ve been shooting weddings & engagements in Southern California since 2009, and their photographic style is genuine, bold, happy & clean. We are working together now to bring these values into their brand identity and infuse that throughout their entire brand. It’s all about creating that cohesive experience! I am so so so excited to show you what we’ve been working on. Seriously, these two are so great, and any logo to represent them will have to be equally as exciting! Until then, be sure to check out their blog & visit their site.

Sources left to right, top to bottom:

1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11/12/13

Branding : Identity

Have you had a chance to read through our branding series? If not, be sure to check it out before reading this post. You’ll probably start to understand that your logo is not your brand. Your brand is your entire business … It’s the values you bring to the table, and it’s the experience and service you give your clients from beginning to end. Your brand is the thing that cannot be copied … No matter if someone rips off your logo and website. It won’t matter … Your brand is the piece that will create advocates out of your clients.

I know I’ve focused so much on the fact that your logo (or brand identity, as we call it around these parts) is not your brand. With that said … It’s still a big part of it. Having a professional identity that represents your brand is like the icing on the cake … or the Sriracha ketchup on your fries. Sure, cake is still cake, and the fries are still fries … but man, when you top it off with that deliciousness, it changes things quite a bit.

Why a Strong Brand Identity is Important

Helps to Define & Filter: I’ve spoken a lot about filtering and choosing clients that are best for your brand. Using your brand identity is yet another way of filtering. By being deliberate with your design, a graphic designer will be able to incorporate the brand values into a tangible representation of your brand. Your logo/identity shouldn’t appeal to everyone … it should appeal to the clients you’re hoping to work with. Your logo will help define who you are. By being specific about color choices, layout, typefaces, graphic elements, you can attract the right clients and potentially repel those that don’t fit your ideal client profile.

Professionalism: If you’re asking someone to invest in your service or product, it’s important to showcase your business in the most professional way possible. There’s an element of trust that’s immediately established when your clients can tell that you’ve invested in your business. Why should they spend their money on your service when you aren’t willing to do so yourself?

It Sets You Apart: Chances are, there are tons of other people who provide the same service that you do … It’s also likely that more than half of them don’t have a strong physical presence for their brand. You’re automatically ahead of the pack when you have a way of establishing trust and reliability from the beginning. I know before we moved to Portland, I had a really hard time considering apartments that either didn’t have images, or had really crappy images. I was most attracted to the listings with high quality images … I could tell the property manager cared, and I equated that with a better relationship in the long-run.

It Speaks for You: Your brand identity is oftentimes the very first part of your brand experience your potential clients come in contact with. If you’ve created a cheap looking logo using your word processing software, what does that say? Honestly, it will most likely say you’re cheap … average … and you’ll just get the job done without going above & beyond. A professionally created logo and brand identity suite will say that you’re professional … care more about your business … and they’ll immediately start to interpret the values of your business, because your logo will be created with those values in mind.

Creates Consistency: I’ve often felt I use the words “consistent” and “cohesive” a bit too much, but those two words are so important when it comes to your business. Not only does consistency help create a more memorable experience for your clients, it also creates a more efficient workflow for you. There are so many ways to incorporate your brand identity into your workflow. Your brand identity doesn’t need to stop at a business card and a blog banner. Sending custom, branded thank you cards after you’ve delivered your product/service is a great way to remind your clients that choosing to work with you was the right choice. Packaging materials leave tons of room for incorporating branding, and every invoice/contract/email/receipt should be branded. Your website/blog should tell the clients as much about your work as the actual work does!

Where to Start

Build Your Business Profile: Every strong brand starts with a strong business. In my opinion, a strong business needs to start with a solid foundation of values. Your designer should take the time to understand why you do what you do, and what values and feelings need to be incorporated into your brand identity.

Figure Out Who Who Your Ideal Client Is: It’s all about them, remember? Once you know who you’re trying to appeal to, you’ll have a better idea of how to gear the design towards them.

Gathering inspiration: Inspiration can be found in the unlikeliest of places. Starting with the keywords you’ve developed for your business, start looking for photographic inspiration that represents those feelings. Pinterest is a great place to gather inspiration pieces. Think about colors, textures, photographs, other logos, typography … Basically, if you look at a photo and it makes you feel amazing … It’s worth keeping for inspiration.

Work With A Designer: I think it’s super important to work with a designer. We understand what it takes to create a strong identity that’s built around your business. When you work with a designer, we are required to stick to the timelines you’ve established in the contract … that means, things will get done! When trying to tackle projects like this yourself, it’s easy to get distracted and push it off. A designer also sees your strongest traits … It’s easy to overlook the best things you bring to your business. Designers will give you access to high quality files that can be used for marketing materials. We often have access to amazing printers and can help you develop a strategy for marketing.

Be Willing to Invest: Branding is not cheap. At least, it shouldn’t be. The person you hire is essentially creating the piece of the business that will represent you to potential clients and be one of your biggest filters. It’s worth investing in … There’s not really much else to say about that, except: cheap design is often quite trendy. Within a few months or a year, your logo is outdated. Paying more for professional design ensures that the trendiness factor as been considered. It’s a long term investment.

Be True to Yourself: If you are true to yourself, it’s hard to go wrong with your branding. There are trends that pop up (birds, chevrons, old keys, etc) every few months, and hundreds of logos are cranked out using those elements. Unless you can own it … unless you really connect with every piece of your logo, be sure to consider a different direction. When you truly connect with every part of your brand and identity, you’re going to be more successful … because you’ll be proud of it.

I think this is going to wrap up our branding series. As you can tell, we are really passionate about branding, and helping creatives & small business owners connect with potential clients. There are probably 100 more blog posts we could write, but we really just wanted to scratch the surface and provide a little perspective. If you’re an independent business owner, it’s worth using the last couple weeks of 2011 to focus on your branding to see if you’re sending the right message to potential and existing clients. If you feel you’re missing the mark, sit down with a pencil & paper and really focus on getting to the core of why you do what you do. Again, when you put enough of yourself into your brand, it’s almost impossible to go wrong.

We are currently offering one-on-one brand reviews and consultations. If you’re considering rebranding, let’s talk first. Maybe you just need a little help with strategy, or you’re not sure about how to best represent your brand visually. We can talk on the phone, Skype or in-person to give you some perspective. Just send me a hello, and we can talk about the details.
We’re currently booking brand identity clients for 2012. Though, we don’t accept every client that comes our way: we love working with creatives who are passionate about what they do. We love clients who are crazy about design and understand that branding is more than a fancy logo. If that’s you, let’s talk!