Every brand experiences evolution. Every. Brand. Maybe living in the great state of Kentucky is why this one is always first on my mind, but consider Kentucky Fried Chicken – in the early 2000s they changed their name to KFC. More recently, they even pushed “KFG” for their grilled chicken. The brand also went from having an actual spokesperson, Colonel Sanders (who is a real person; my dad met him in a hospital elevator in the 1970s), to a cartoon face. And even now, they’ve even launched KFC Eleven, a concept restaurant that offers healthier options rather than deep-fried chicken.
That, my friends, is brand evolution. Transitioning over time, not only changing the logo but the name, the menu, the ideals behind their brand. By evolving over time, Kentucky Fried Chicken never became stale – it changed with the times, led the way into new markets and continues to grasp at chances to improve itself.
I’ve been on a “branding” kick for months – I think it’s an exciting topic and have loved the process of re-branding my own photography business. It should be no surprise that I continue to read up on it. But even though I’ve long known that it’s an important part of business, it’s really important for small business owners. Especially photographers.
Your brand is much more than your logo or your products. Brand encompasses everything about your business, especially the experiences consumers have with your business. When I say consumers, I’m not just talking about potential and current clients, but everyone – visitors to your blog and Facebook page, people you meet in person, even what people say about you and your business when you’re not around. Everyone.
That’s why it’s important when considering re-branding (or building a brand from the start), that you consider all elements of what you’re presenting to the world (visuals, voice, interactions, service, information shared), not just the look of the logo. Which, I feel, is where several of us photographers get hung up – it’s an important part of branding because it helps with recognition, but isn’t the only piece to the puzzle.
As a portrait photographer in Louisville, I know that consumers here have an endless choice of whom to select as their photographer; there are a lot of people who do what I do! So this is where branding becomes crucial. Being able to set yourself apart from the crowd is step one; being consistent in your work and having a message that carries through every part of marketing you do for your business will carry you even further. Your brand really starts with you – YOU become the brand for your small business.
So why did I decide to re-brand? As much as I loved Shutterboo Photography, I outgrew it. It was time to put my own name on my work. And with changing the name of my business, it only made sense to evaluate everything else at the same time. The look of my website was updated, re-targeted my audience, learned more about SEO and making myself visible in search… and I asked myself questions that made me think more about where I want to be, not just where I am.
But my brand began evolving a few years ago, even before I changed the name to Brooke Murphy Photography. Just little changes here and there that I notice now. Like my voice, my photography, my presentation. But of course, the look of my blog(s) and my logo are what others saw changing:
Even though a lot of homework goes into discovering your small business brand (or in my case, re-brand), it’s definitely something to invest your time in. Don’t be afraid to learn more about branding because the end results is learning more about yourself.