On branding for creative businesses
Over the years, we’ve branded allllll sorts of business. Consultants, recruitment agencies, butchers, farmers, salons, children’s’ cafes…. all sorts. But one of my favourite types of clients are those who have a creative streak to what they do, hands down. And yet the challenge of creating a brand for a fellow creative is quite a different one. Not because they have their own opinions on design (because actually, my experience is that anyone in the creative space is much more likely to be respectful of our process and leaves us to do our best work), but because we have to create a brand that supports the clients own natural visual style.
I remember the first wedding photographer we worked with. It was about six years ago now, maybe more - and the prevailing style at the time was for wedding photographers to have flowing calligraphy lettering, watercolour and soft peony tones, which, as it happened, fitted her business rather well. Soon, we were getting more and more enquiries from other wedding photographers - and I felt a rising dread at the thought of creating endless pink, flowy brand identities. As a creative business, we live and die by the strength of our portfolio - I didn’t want ours to turn into a sea of pink. It’s just not us.
Celebrating the individuality of every creative
Then the fabulous and fearless Marianne Chua approached us to rebrand her business. Marianne is an AWESOME wedding photographer - and about as far from the calligraphy and peonies tribe as it’s possible to be. Her style is bold, unconventional, entirely unexpected and utterly distinctive. It gave us the opportunity to look at wedding photographers differently, causing us to think about what it was that gave Marianne’s work the edge, and how we were going to create a brand that really supported her style. It turned our preconceptions of her industry on its head, shaking up our thinking and giving us an entirely different perspective, which we’ve carried forward to every project since. It made us realise that no two creatives from the same industry should ever be regarded in the same way. Since then, we’ve created the branding for a great many photographers, and no two look the same - because we’ve learnt to delve down into what makes each client truly unique, and create a brand to celebrate their story and style. More than anything, we help them to stand out, to see their own value and to carve out a niche that they can make exclusively theirs.
A blend of images, words and magic
One of my favourite things to do for creatives is to help them find their voice. What I mean by that is discovering the words and language to use in order to express themselves - words that really mirror the sentiment of what they do and help to tell the story of their brand. Whether their style is edgy and on-trend, elegant and whimsical, cute and happy, finding the right tone of voice for a brand completely transforms the way they are able to communicate. Words add energy, meaning and style, yet it can be so hard to find the right words to express your individuality as a creative.
My tips for branding a creative business
1/ Create a list of words to describe your work
What sort of words would you attach to your work? Rich? Artful? Joyful? Timeless? Nostalgic? Soft? Bold? Contemporary? Unexpected? If you really struggle with this, it could be helpful to ask a client or an objective friend to help out. I know this can be hard - particularly if you’re one of the oh-so-modest sorts - but I promise it’s so worthwhile.
2/ Be true to your style
As a creative brand, no matter what kind of creative you might be, your customers are buying into your style and your eye. I can’t stress enough how important it is that your brand identity supports your natural creative style and creates a louder, more confident and consistent message - it should strengthen your voice, not confuse it.
3/ Don’t get sucked into trends
Seriously. Don’t. It’s a common theme amongst creatives to feel that you have to be at the cutting edge of the latest fashions, but you simply don’t. Even the personal stylist we branded a couple of years ago (who is as fashion-forward as it’s possible to be) needed a brand that transcended the fleetingness of trends. Create something stronger and more enduring.
4/ Definitely don’t get hung up on what the competition’s doing
You do not need to look like your competitor. Ever. A healthy awareness of what your competitor is up to is absolutely fine, but be brave enough to cultivate your own voice and stand apart from everyone else.
5/ Pay attention to the details
As a creative, it’s expected that your business looks visually stunning at every possible level. You owe it to your work to make sure that everything which leaves your doors is as gorgeous as possible and really showcases your unique flair and style. Details really matter - they show you care and will elevate your business to it’s own level.
We absolutely LOVE working with creative businesses - photographers, stylists, videographers, designers, florists, makers - and would really love to hear from you if you’re planning a new venture, or need a brand that reflects your strengths. You know where to find us….!