OK. So I said that I would go into the details about re-branding, right? Well, let’s do it. Just know that I’m the most indecisive person this side of the Mason-Dixon Line and this story will likely confirm that. Don’t judge me.
When I actually started my photography business and began building out my first website two years ago, I was torn: Do I stick with the name I’d given my blog since I had a small following? Or start over and use my own name? After a couple of days of thinking it over and scratching out a list of pros and cons, I decided to stay with shutterboo. It was fun. It was me. And I didn’t have to go through the hassle of a new website or any of that interweb junk.
What it really boiled down to? It was easier. And when you’re scared of something new, easier sounds like the friendliest option. But I committed to it, and loved every minute of what I was doing – from photographing families to designing marketing pieces to reconciling bank statements – it was exactly what I wanted. (And yes, I really do like reconciling bank statements. But that’s about the extent of the accounting that I do.)
This time last year, I was in Chicago for a workshop with Christy Tyler. After all the other ladies had left, Christy let me hang around a bit since my flight was still hours away. She’s incredibly easy to talk to, and candid, so I asked her what she thought about my business name. I told her how I originally thought about changing it but didn’t, that I was scared to and the feedback I got from friends and family reassured my decision. Christy put on a smile and was as honest as 6-year-old George Washington: shutterboo was cute and fun, but did make her think of a photographer that specialized with children. I love photographing families and kids, but I also love photographing couples. With only adults, I feel like there’s more creative freedom; there’s no bargaining or breaks to recompose or staying away from abandoned lots filled with broken glass. Hearing her opinion kind of made me step back and think – I didn’t want to just be a children’s photographer, I want to photograph everyone.
But Christy went on to tell me about her own experience, about her first brand with her photography business and why she decided to change it. And then the kicker came: If you are going to change your business name, do it sooner rather than later.
I kept hearing Christy say those words for weeks in my head. “Sooner rather than later.” But I got scared, decided it was too much work to redo everything I had built in the last 12 months, and shut the idea out of my head for the second time.
This past January, I had a lot of time to think about things. Mike and I were traveling a lot (or more than we usually do) and with time away from work and family… and making goals for the New Year… and the thought of my 31st birthday arriving very soon… well, the idea stirred up again. Only this time I wasn’t thinking about how much work it would be to leave shutterboo behind. Rather, I was weighing the impact it would make. Not just on the business side of things, but on me. How I could identify better with my photography, with my blogging, with selling myself to people who don’t know me. Just by putting my name on the marquee. My favorite thing about photographing others are the connections we make – the conversations, learning who we both know, what we have in common – and having my name on my business allows me to make a connection a little sooner.
So I made another list of pros and cons and I realized that the cons weren’t really cons – it was actually the “to do list” for re-branding. Of course, this wasn’t good enough for me, the gal who can’t make a decision to save her life, and I reached out to a few friends who were also business owners for their opinions. They all said the same thing; that I should do it, it made sense and here are the reasons why, and blah blah blah blah. I knew all of this already and their validation helped, but it was my dear friend Susan that made me think about it differently. She not only pointed out that re-branding helps small businesses evolve, but her words that made me pause were:
From the outside, it seems like putting your name on your business is really taking the next step into “I’m legitimate; this is me, this is my work” arena. It also frees you up to keep evolving, since no matter what direction you might take in the future, you’ll always be Brooke Murphy. Five or ten years from now, will you still be “Shutterboo”?
(This is why I keep Susan, folks.)
Susan’s comment sealed the deal – it was time to evolve, to make the change. A big scary change that I had not wanted to do was going to be done. Making the to do list for the “official” things like contacting the IRS, the state and our accountant made me sweat more than I’d like to publicly admit. Calculating the total cost of inventory that I would lose made me step away from the computer to pace the hall. I kept reminding myself that people did this sort of thing all the time and that even in this situation, Nike is right: Just Do It. So I just did it. I reached out to a designer that came highly recommended and she made the transition even smoother – anywhere I was unconfident before, she created something that excited me. And eventually, all the fear of becoming Brooke Murphy Photography began to disappear. And that leads us into the next discussion of re-branding: the “process.”