It’s hard to stand out in the creative industry. So many creatives are running similar businesses- and a lot of the times it is just so hard to stand out in the crowd. With online technology, affordable website templates, endless workshops & courses available at our fingertips, and even social media- it’s easier than ever to have a business that looks a lot like everyone else’s, and if you’re not careful not really enough like…yours.
It wasn’t too long into my photography business building venture that I started to learn the power of the word brand. Like many, at first, it was all about the visuals. It was the colors on my website. The design of my logo. The stamps and the fonts. You know…the pretty things.
I then began to learn that “brand” could go beyond visual, and that it could be a feeling. A brand experience. It was about the feel of the packaging, and the way a client felt when she opened her prints, the feeling she got when she viewed my photographs, the way a client felt when receiving an email from me, the way I made my client feel during her session with me.
How a brand looks, and how a brand feels- are very important. They are not quick to create- and certainly not developed overnight. But a brand has even more to offer your business.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of a brand voice- and often because I see it as a missing piece on a lot of websites & blogs. Many of the photographers I have mentored over the years have struggled with booking their ideal clients, and building their “tribe” & brand community- and I think that a clear brand voice is often what’s missing.
I recently had a conversation with my friend Hannah Brencher. She’s an insanely talented author & speaker, a creative copy writer, she’s given a TED talk, and has one of the most loyal group of blog readers that exist. I asked her about this idea of HOW to build your brand voice. Because it’s easy to pick out who has one, but it’s harder to figure out how to get there yourself.
“Simple,” she said. “It has to REALLY matter to you.”
You see, people aren’t going to read your blog, your monthly email “newsletter”, or feel remotely connected to your social media posts…if it doesn’t really REALLY matter to you. You have to mean what you say. And talk to your audience from the deep places of your core values, and what you really believe in.
“You have to bleed it “, she said. “A voice will only come from people who have something to say.”
What do you have to say? What do you care about so much in your business that it may as well be the blood running through your veins. What really, really, really matters to you?
Is it knowing what it feels like to have a loved one pass away with zero photographs to remember them by? Is it how you felt walking through a marriage that was crumbling, and how you came out the other side? Is it how motherhood radically and completely changed your life that you can’t help but see how beautiful it is- even when she thinks it’s messy? Is it the first time you saw artwork on the wall and you FELT something you never had experienced before- a feeling you want to share with the world? Is it growing up in a family that didn’t value each other, so much so that spreading individual worth is your life’s mission in everything you create?
Whatever THAT is for you.
That’s your brand voice. Building it is knowing what it is that matters to you. Building it is consistently, bravely, vulnerably, authentically, and honestly sharing it again and again and again. Building it is creating work FROM that very place inside you. Building it is not caring if anyone else ever shows up, and saying it anyway.
Because it matters.
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