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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

How do I create a brand?

When I worked at the branding consultancy we had departments dedicated to brand strategy and brand design. I have taken what I learnt from the process and outlined some basic steps to help you create the foundations for a brand for your business. I strongly advise that you find a graphic designer to create the visual identity. This is the last step in the process though – first you need to do some work.

Step 1 Brand Strategy – Defining your values and personality
Brand values

Consider the question what are my core values – what do I want to stand for? Is the brand about honesty or integrity? Quality? How about excellent communication and customer satisfaction? A company’s values are generally an internal matter although they should be evident to anyone you do business with – whether clients or suppliers. Again consistency is key as your brand values should never change even though the market and your product offering may.

Decide what you want your brand to stand for, ideally something attractive and even unique amongst competitor offerings and try and find 4 behavioural values that cover it.

Brand personality

What personality traits do I want to project? Like a person, a brand can be perceived as being warm, confident, formal etc. Take some time to think about what kind of personality and tone of voice you want your brand to have and then try and sum it up using just 4 values.

In both cases I am suggesting 4 values – it gives enough range to allow you to express a brand without diluting or over-complicating the strategy.

Step 2 Towards a Visual Identity

As a lifestyle photographer you are a huge part of your brand and your visual style must reflect your personal style. It’s very important that you love your brand identity so you need to give your graphic designer some visual references that reflect your taste. Interior or fashion magazines can provide great inspiration - tear out anything that really appeals.

Your colour palette is also crucial – I always recommend walking into a home improvements shop and standing in front of the paint sample spectrum. Pick up anything that you really love. Also take a look at other brands – which ones are you drawn to visually? Make a list for your designer. All of this will really help them understand what you like. Remember though – women tend to buy lifestyle photography so you need to appeal to them – this is something for your graphic designer to consider.
Step 3 Brief the Designer

Once a graphic designer has the words and the visual reference they will be able to start designing you a brand identity toolkit to work across all your communication touchpoints. There isn’t one right way to do this – all that really matters is that they provide something flexible enough to allow you to design simple stationery, a website, a brochure and maybe even consider a trade stand for wedding fayres etc. Generally a brand identity should include the following components:

  • A logotype or wordmark. Here a some useful pointers about good logo design as there is a lot of BAD logo design:
  1. Describable
  2. Memorable
  3. Effective without colour
  4. Scalable i.e. work when just an inch in size
  5. Relevant to the industry in question
  • A colour palette – this can be just one or a combination of colours.
  • A primary and secondary font – for titles and use as body copy.
  • Some kind of creative idea that can be used for your more detailed brand communications. For example when Lambie-Nairn created the brand identity for O2 we needed to be able to visually demonstrate Oxygen. The bubble began as a simple graphic property that worked in print and online. The bubble property has continued to evolve, especially for television communications. You can watch a clip that demonstrates O2's full brand identity here.

Step 4 Living the Brand

Please remember that however hard you work to develop a brand it will fail if you don’t ‘live it’ by consistently being true to your values and personality. An ‘off day’ or unanswered phone will do you damage. Whatever you’ve spent on advertising, promotions, branding, or design, can all be obliterated with a single bad customer experience. Most photographers work alone or as a very small team so it should be easier to remain consistent and control all brand communications.


  1. Hi Kate,

    You have put into words what I have been trying to do over the past couple of months but now I will go back to the drawing board and refine everything. Cheers!

    1. Hi Lynne. How did you get on - do you have yourself a new brand?! Kate



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