HOW TO DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
Author, photographer, and marketing extraordinaire Brian Matiash bestows his wisdom on the importance of creating your own brand. From his book, The Visual Palette.
You’ve heard of an “elevator pitch,” right? In essence, an elevator pitch is an exercise where you try to quickly “sell” an idea by delivering a point or message to another interested party or stakeholder in the time it takes to ride the elevator. The point of the elevator pitch is that the message you deliver should be pithy and crystal clear so that you leave a lasting impression with the person you’re pitching it to in such a short amount of time. It’s a skill worth mastering, and it’s applicable in this discussion of your brand because it forces you to learn how to clearly and succinctly define who you are, what your brand is, and what value it brings. In the case of your brand, your key stakeholder is your audience at large, and while you’re not riding an elevator with them, there is only so much time they will grant you in determining whether they’re interested in you or not. Still, despite the sense of urgency here, the most important thing to remember is that this is a fun process and can be very rewarding!
The first thing to consider when creating the elevator pitch around your brand is that it isn’t necessarily about your photography. Remember, your brand is a reflection of you and what you bring to the table. Getting people to like your photos isn’t necessarily that difficult. Things become a bit trickier when the goal is to get them to remember you and form an enduring connection. This is where leveraging your personal experiences is so important. Your brand’s identity will largely rely on the unique perspectives that come from your life’s experiences. In my own brand-building, I’ve deliberately made the fact that I was born and raised in New York City an integral part of my brand because it allows me to explain my fascination with architecture and helps color in all of the foreign experiences I’ve had with nature and landscape photography since moving to Oregon several years back. It is a defining anchor point that my followers can latch onto; that is important because, in some small way, it establishes a rapport with them.
Ultimately, you should strive to establish and grow this strong and lasting rapport between your brand and your audience. Think about your favorite television show, about how excited you are when a new episode airs. You want to foster that same kind of excitement and anticipation for each of your newly shared photo posts. As you provide more rich, relatable content for your audience to consume, the story of your brand will get reinforced and that rapport will strengthen.
Consistency: Content’s Queen
People are creatures of habit. Routines and rituals are important because they allow us to make sense out of things and help us establish order in our lives. Conversely, breaking a routine can be disruptive and have lasting consequences. As you choose how to grow your brand, you need to identify several factors of consistency. And once you set them in the wet cement, it is critical that you stay true to them; once the concrete hardens, it can be very difficult, costly, and time-consuming to change them.
The first type of consistency you need to establish is that of your voice and tone. Of course, I’m not referring to how well you can sing (although I do love a good soprano), but rather how you carry yourself in the way you share your content. Some people prefer taking a more genteel approach in the way they share experiences, while others use a more direct, cut-and-dry method. Maybe you have a penchant for verbosity and colorful adjectives. Or perhaps you enjoy infusing political tones within your posts. Whatever the case, this tone will help further define your brand and will help the audience at large determine whether they want to be a fan or not. Once you’ve established this tone, it’s important to remain true to it and keep it consistent because the fans you’ve gained will have that expectation of you going forward. Just remember to remain authentic and true to yourself, and be sure to treat your audience with respect and kindness.
The second type of consistency you need to determine relates to the rate at which you share your content. In other words, how often will you choose to share new content? The good news is that there is no definitive answer as to how often you need to share new content. The most important thing to determine is the rate that you can sustain for the long term. Remember, it’s not only about having enough photos to share. You also have to consider the mental toll that composing fresh, new thoughts can have. Your audience will happily consume your stories at whatever rate you choose to share them, but a disruption in that schedule can have consequences, so be thoughtful in how you decide to proceed.
For more tips on creating and refining your brand, as well as finding your photographic voice and developing your style, check out Brian Matiash’s book The Visual Palette: Defining Your Photographic Style. Plus, check out these images from his on-going series “The Path of Least Resistance” below.