The bottom is getting crowded.
I read Seth Godin’s blog daily. He’s usually concise and right on target. His post entitled,”Clawing your way to the bottom” really hits the mark as far as what professional photographers and other visual creators are up against.
I used to make a lot of money shooting stock – that is before the consolidation of agencies and the commoditization of stock. While it’s understandable why that happened when the world went “digital”, the prices and value of images has dropped so far that an “average” stock shooter can no longer make a living shooting stock.
I’m grateful that I never relied solely on stock photography to make a living. However, commissioned photography has not escaped the race to the bottom as far as photographers pricing themselves out of business. There’s only so low one can go on their fees. It’s a short fix to nowhere.
The solution is there for anyone who is willing to do the work – that is, make the effort to stay at the top of your game. Focus on the big picture. Be curious. Don’t panic. Stay away from trends., Focus on the story – not on the gear. Tell them a story. Live life because if you don’t – your work will show it.
When you’ve been in business for more than 10 or 20 or 30 years, you need to reassess your marketing and/or your brand. Our company went through this process this past year and did a total redesign – logo, copy, website etc. Our business had totally changed but our branding didn’t reflect those changes.
While we had always been two photographers shooting both independently and as a team, our branding was never clear that there were two of us. Many thought Kelly Mooney was one person. We hired a graphic designer to come up with a logo that not only reflected the partnership but also reflected that fact that our business was more than just still photography. We were no longer two photographers shooting still imagery, but a small production company offering integrated still and motion solutions for buyers with multi media needs.
Do start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Has your business changed? How?
- Does your logo/branding reflect those changes?
- Does your logo and branding (taglines) say something about what your business does?
- Do you want a total revision – new logo, color scheme and copy – or a simple refresh? Why?
- What is your company known for? Does your branding reflect that?
- Don’t make the mistake of redesigning your logo and colors and overall packaging to look current if your company is still providing the same services the same way. It may freshen up your image on the outside, but if it doesn’t reflect what your company does or offers – it will be a fail.
- Don’t forget to establish guidelines and be consistent. Logo, colors, fonts, taglines, imagery and your “voice”. When you have a clear sense of your brand, it will be easier to make choices about images or copy to use that are in alignment with your brand.
- Don’t use vague or generic copy. Copy loaded with catchwords or phrases that are overused and meaningless.
- Don’t overcomplicate it. The whole point of branding is to make your company’s logo or tagline memorable and define what your company does.
- Don’t change your branding if the benefits don’t outweigh the risks. Remember that changes to your brand could potentially reduce the connections you already have. So have a good reason for re-branding.