When I first talk about branding with clients, they jump straight into questions such as:
- What colors do you think I should use?
- Do you like this idea for a logo?
- What about the pictures to put on my website?
They often forget the written aspect of their brand and how much words ACTUALLY matter. Then, if they’ve got the words down, they’re not sure how to visually represent their brand in a way that feels good to them or that captures their audiences attention.
For today’s post, I’ve teamed up with Nadeena of Art & Anthem, to share how important it is to tie together your copy and photography, to create a clear, concise, and streamlined message, so you can better connect with your audience.
Establish Your Brand Story
Cassandra: Before we dive into WHAT type of copy is best to connect with your audience, it’s important to have a clear grasp on the brand story. A brand story is the culmination of all things us, that have lead us to this point in our lives, and how our brands were born from that. When we establish a brand story, it keeps things clear on our end and to our audience.
A brand story will always be different for each business; because no two brands are the same – because no two people are the same. To establish our brand story verbally, let’s work through these steps:
- What experiences, thoughts, opinions, etc. have lead you to where you are now?
- What was the turning point that brought you to your current brand?
- What does your brand stand for, what does it NOT stand for?
- Where do your strengths and weaknesses lie and who are the people that will benefit the most from this?
- Why did you choose this type of work, why now? → And if you have a specific niche, why that niche as opposed to others?
Journaling on those questions and going back to highlight the phrases that really resonate with you, will help establish your brand’s story. Once we’re clear on that, we can take the words and translate them into a visual brand story!
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Nadeena: A large part of your visual story comes down to pulling details from the written story you’ve built around your brand, to create photographs that speak for you. Together, the two effortlessly create a home and an experience for your customers and clients. This can be done for both product and service based businesses – although the “perfect formula” is unique to each individual business.
Photography is a powerful form of storytelling that helps you connect with your audience. To create a powerful visual brand story, it’s important to understand who our audience is in the scope of our brand story. We need to know who will be seeing our visuals. A key part of coming up with photographs that connect, is understanding who you’re trying to connect to.
Spend time on understanding how your dream client comes into play in your brand story. Understand her (or his) personality, what their lives are like, and most importantly — why they would bother coming to you in the first place. It’s important for you to understand why you’re doing what you do, but also remember a large part of this is about the people you want to help.
Case Study: To give you a good example of how your brand story influences your visuals, I want you to take a look at Anthropologie’s brand story below and then look at their website and social feed. Do you see a connection between the two?
“Anthropologie was founded by… Dick Hayne, having heard the plea of a friend. She had just moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia…now a distance from Urban Outfitters—a brand she also was aging out of—there was a void in her life. She longed for a store to indulge her creative side. Dick, realizing this wasn’t an isolated phenomenon, went on to build a lifestyle brand that catered to creative, educated and affluent 30-45 year-old women.
Our customer is a creative-minded woman, who wants to look like herself, not the masses. She has a sense of adventure about what she wears, and although fashion is important to her, she is too busy enjoying life to be governed by the latest trends. To her, Anthropologie is a portal of discovery—a brush with what could be. A place for her to lose—and find—herself.
Our product offering consists of women’s apparel and accessories, intimates, home furniture and décor, beauty and gifts. Each caters to the lifestyle of our five muses: soft & delicate; boho chic; easy cool; elegant classic; and modern sporty.”
Questions to help guide you:
- Why are your clients coming to you? Whether for inspiration, education, or for a specific product, understand why they’re showing up on your virtual doorstep.
- What is your dream clients personality? What clothes does he/she wear, where do they shop, where do they eat, do they prefer tea or coffee? Both? Is yoga their thing, or do they not care at all? What books do they read, or do they prefer e-magazines?
- What visions immediately come to mind when you think of your brand story? When you think of your target market?
Creating Content for Your Client
Cassandra: Content creation sounds like a buzzword these days. We’re all creating content, consuming it, and getting it thrown in our faces, whether we like it or not. With so many different platforms to share, how do we know what we’re making is reaching the RIGHT people? What if everything we’re doing is headed into the black hole I like to call the “Internet” – never being read and wasted time spent planning and writing it?!
Before I sit down to create my editorial calendar, I refer back to the “WHO” in my brand. Who does The Quirky Pineapple Studio want to serve? Who did I start this entire business for (well, myself… but there were people I wanted to help along the way). And who are MY PEOPLE?! What does that mean — who are the people that my strengths and knowledge can help the most? (We covered this in the first topic!) From there, the following questions are usually:
- What do those people want to know about, that I can teach them?
- What part of my brand story plays a role in this content?
- How can I add my opinion and personality to these topics?
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Let’s face it, most of the time, our competitors are writing about the same damn thing. We’re all sharing the same damn information! What makes us stand apart is our brand story, the information we share specific to OUR clients’ needs, and the delivery of our content. Through the brand story and knowing the struggles of your audience, it’s easier to create content that’s all wrapped up in our essence while delivering the exact value our clients need.
Now, how do we represent that through photography?
Nadeena: We covered our target market in detail and this is where that REALLY pays off. Since we already know who our content is aimed at – the key, here, is to focus on what we want our content to do. With a thorough understanding of our audience and brand story, coming up with content comes down to brainstorming. We use our content as a form of marketing — so essentially, we’re using it to drive traffic, educate, build trust, or book clients.
- Brainstorm 3-5 content categories. You get to determine what you share and what you don’t — no one else. If something isn’t working, play with your formula and see what your audience is engaging with more. It’s up to you how personal or professional you want to keep your social marketing.
- Possible Categories: Behind the scenes, Creative Entrepreneur lifestyle, Travel, Portfolio work, Selfies (never underestimate the power of a selfie!), your personal life (even this can be subcategorized, maybe you only want to share brunch outings w/ friends and keep your romantic relationship out of the limelight — you call the shots!), daily outfits, I can go on forever! Look at your brand story, how you serve your people and who your people are and just let the ideas pour out. Refine later. Focus on what fires you up.
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What’s your brand’s visual & written personality?
Cassandra: Once we’ve established a brand story and the type of content we want to create to connect with your audience, the next part is how to create and tie in the written and visual aspects to make sure everything is cohesive. The goal of branding is to create a consistent personality through design, photography, and words. If one of those are off, it won’t create a strong narrative to your audience.
For the written aspect of content and branding, it starts with tying in how you would normally talk – or how your brand would talk. Is your brand spunky, moody, enlightened, sassy, or silly? What words do you use often to describe your brand? Tie those into your copy! For example, The Quirky Pineapple Studio is warm and inviting, so the goal of all my copy is to “invite you” to sit down and join the adventure with me. What is your brand’s tone of voice and what makes you excited?
Next, sit down and set an objective for everything you write. If it’s a blog post, what is the goal for your audience AFTER the post? If it’s your website copy, where are you leading your readers and what’s the action you want them to take afterwards? How can you use YOUR key phrases and vocabulary to share that in your own way?
Develop these two aspects first: tone and objective/end goal, and you’re on your way to creating CLEAR content for your readers!
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Nadeena: Yayy! Okay so this is my other favorite part — figuring out your brand aesthetic or personality. Here we get to moodboard! To get us started, I want you to pin images that feel like your brand (through Pinterest or physical shots). It seems very abstract, and in truth, it is. This is very feelings + gut based.
It’s helpful to have a professional walk you through this but if you haven’t hired anyone, the best thing I can suggest is to follow your gut and use the prompts below. It’s easy to get lost in the standard “desk” images or “working in an office”, but that’s not what this section is about. This section is to help you understand what your visual aesthetic is.
Is your desk going to be all white and bright or all boho chic? Think of it as styling a room in your home — you’re not just going to throw anything in there and you’re not going to use what your friend is using. You’re going to handpick each item with intention and purpose because this space is yours. Same with your visual aesthetic. And this *again* also comes back to your target market because when they land on your website, the visuals you use, the colors, everything sends a message. You’re speaking to them and they’ll instantly feel it.
- What seasonal personality do you identify as? (Don’t get too bogged down if you don’t fit any seasons to the tee, just look at the one that is closest to how you want your brand to look and feel.)
- Create a moodboard. This serves as a visual guide for your brand — something you can use when creating content across all platforms, to remind you to stay grounded in your foundation rather than get lost in the trends. Focus on what colors, textures, and props, you’re drawn to. The use of negative space or lack thereof. For each image you pin, write down in the description what you like about this image.
- Refine + cull your moodboard, taking note of recurring themes. Delete what doesn’t feel right. Remember this moodboard isn’t about types of visual content but about defining your aesthetic.
Why it’s important to invest in images and copy
DIY-ing your copy and photography for your branding is understandable. A branding project can quickly become costly! Usually, a full branded package includes:
Which are hefty (but important) investments! Although DIY-ing can save you a lot of money, it normally ends up distracting or taking away from your full brand message. Having experts in photography, copy, or website design, helps save you a lot of time and “going back” to fix mistakes or errors if your brand’s message isn’t clear.
The point of branding isn’t only to present yourself in a beautiful way online or in person, it’s being able to effectively tell your brand’s story – or your story – through visual and written content that appeals and attracts to your ideal clients/customers. Experts who have worked in these fields understand how to interpret your brand story and help you capture it in the most pure form that will ALSO attract the right type of clients to your business (which is what you want!).
Is there anything you need to change in your visual and written content to better connect with your audience? Share with us in the comments below!
Is your messaging and content optimized to increase organic traffic and bring in leads? We can help with that! Book a FREE clarity call with The Quirky Pineapple Studio to talk it over.
Want to learn how you can instantly connect your brand to your dream clients through visual storytelling? Contact Nadeena, here!
Thank you to Nadeena, from Art & Anthem, for collaborating with me on this post! (: It was so much fun to bring in someone else who loves branding, as much as I do, and share their expertise in the visual field! Nadeena is a product and brand photographer focusing on beauty, wellness, and lifestyle brands. She is based in New York.
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