My step by step Brand Hero personal branding process, and why it’s guaranteed to get you photos you love.
Simon Sinek might be most famous for his book Start With Why. I have found it to be very good advice over the years since I first read it. It also happens to be the key to getting great photos for your personal brand and business. Because when you understand the why, it becomes so much easier to do the things that go into getting great pictures. In this blog post, I’m going to walk through my Brand Hero strategy that I use with all my clients. It helps me create amazing photos that help them stand out above the competition in their industry.
Personal Branding is Not Optional
In today’s marketplace, I think we can all agree that personal branding is not optional. It’s not a nice thing to do when you have time. And it is not about vanity metrics such as likes, follows, and shares.
Personal branding is about standing out, refusing to compare yourself to others and compete on price, and attracting your dream clients who love to work with you. It is absolutely not about you; it is about your clients.
So that’s the overall why. If your desire is aligned with something along these lines, you’re ready to consider that next step of getting professional branding photos.
But, if you’re more focused on blending in, trying to undercut the competition’s prices, and just trying to find ANYONE who will pay you to do a little work for them, there is no photographer who can get you great photos for building your brand.
Professional Branding Photography is a Luxury
Now, honestly having professional branding photos is optional. It’s not something you HAVE to do; it’s something you GET to do! But, even when you think you’re ready to make that investment, the simple fact remains that most of us don’t love having our pictures taken. You’re likely no exception! My Brand Hero process helps you develop a clear plan and “Why” for your branding photoshoot so you not only get great photos, you’ll actually enjoy the process as well.
Plus, how much does it elevate your brand to be able to introduce someone as “my personal brand photographer?”
I can tell you the answer: a lot. Since I started offering my subscription plan, I have been able to observe the reactions when my clients introduce me to politicians, potential business collaborators, and even their employees.
Working with a professional personal branding photographer becomes something that instantly elevates your status as a successful business owner.
Branding Photos Gone Bad
There’s a very specific reason that I start with a personal branding assessment even before I send an agreement and schedule a date for a photoshoot. Many photographers use this step as a way to plan your photoshoot. I use it to understand your brand vision. The easiest way to explain it is to tell you the story of when I changed my process to make this the very first step.
I had traveled to an historic location to do some headshots and branding photos for a client. In preparation for the shoot, I sent the branding questionnaire well in advance. But I hadn’t gotten a response. I talked to the client weekly and we had been putting together a plan, but I still didn’t have all the info I needed to feel great about the itinerary and shot list for their shoot.
Shortly before my plane was to depart, the client messaged me apologizing for not getting the questionnaire done. They felt it was all a bit overwhelming. I assured them out was no big deal and it would all turn out fine.
And here’s the thing: that’s exactly how it turned out – fine. But is that how you want people to think about your business? No! Absolutely not! With branding photos we want “Frickin’ Awesome!!!”.
I want messages like the ones I got this morning like “You are Awesome” and “Thanks Aaron, you rock sir!” When people share their photos.
Okay, I could do without the sir part…
What happened on that shoot, in a beautiful location, with beautiful light and a great client who I still absolutely respect, admire, and talk to frequently is that they weren’t one hundred percent prepared for the shoot.
They showed up wearing plaid that blended in with the location, they really weren’t clear on what type of photos they needed. They didn’t have a handle on the vibe they were truly going for with their brand, and they were terrified to get their pictures done.
I vowed to never have a “fine” outcome again!
The First Step: Your Branding Assessment
That’s when I had this “a-ha” moment. The reason why most of my clients love my photos had as much to do with the planning and preparation process as it does with my creativity and photographic talents.
In fact, it is precisely this effort to get clear on your brand strategy that then fuels my creativity to create awesome, on-brand images for you. After that moment, it became a requirement to complete the brand strategy assessment before booking a photoshoot with me.
Because what I realized is that if you don’t want to take the time to answer a few questions and have a discussion about your brand vision and strategy then there is no way I can bring it to life.
And it’s really not all that long. The time investment is measured in minutes. Most people actually get a lot of value out of the process. It’s not just about helping me understand your brand; It’s about helping you become clear on it as well. And from there we can have the fun of planning photos and storylines that build your brand and connect with your ideal clients.
Now that we’ve started with why, I’ll cover the highlights of the Brand Hero Strategy I use to build that foundation of your branding photos.
It Starts with Your Business
After collecting basic information so I can connect your answers back to you, the very first section of the strategy assessment is about your business.
The first question is ” If we were at a party, how would you describe what you do?”
This isn’t your elevator pitch. I really want to know how you would talk to someone you just me at a party. You might ask “Why in the world is that important?”
Most of my clients are using their photos on social media. And the best way to think about social media is to consider it one big party!
So if you can start with that vibe of having a conversation at a party, you’re going to be taking a step in the right direction.
The best branding photos in the world won’t help you grow your business if you don’t use them! And this social media aspect is exactly why I created the Brand Hero subscription. You need photos all year, so it just makes it easy to get the photos done whenever (and wherever) you need them throughout the year. It saves you time, and you end up posting so much more frequently because you have a library of professional photos.
From there I ask more questions to better understand your business.
Identifying Your Brand Vision
The next step in the process is to better understand the vision of your brand. One of the key things you share in this part of the process are the websites and social media accounts that inspire you. You also share how you want people to feel about your brand, as well as some of the more traditional brand assets if you have them.
This is critical for me as your photographer. Because I’m not an artist that has a hang-up about my “artistic style” or my “look”. The point of my art form is to capture your brand vision.
I have guidelines, sure. Don’t expect me to do the overexposed, light and airy “wedding look” that is so popular these days. If you’ve seen my photos, you know that’s not what you’re getting with me.
But my goal in creating the striking, powerful images that connect with people is to do it in a way that fits with your brand. Which means there’s a range of looks in my portfolio. Because your brand is unique. And I want to know what you want to create from an aesthetic perspective so you get a consistent look.
Brands that have a consistent look across platforms see about 33% higher revenue as a result. And that’s what you’re ultimately aiming for: to grow your business through your brand.
Tell Me a Little About Yourself
This is about personal branding. So I do get a little personal, but only about the fun and interesting things about you. I ask about the things that will inspire some of the design details of the photos.
Real examples from my past clients about things they’re into:
- cross country running
- Travel to Florida
- The Bible
- “I’m so extra”
- “Dressed up for me is a clean pair of boots and a colored t-shirt.”
Honestly, the conversations about you are my favorite part of the process. It’s these details about you and your personality that allow us to create photos that feel like you.
You might see them and say ” Wow! I make that face all the time” or ” That’s exactly what I do!”
But your clients are going to say how much it just feels like you. And That’s authenticity. That little thing everyone says you should be doing on social media. Being authentic is ready when you’ve defined a plan that aligns with your vision and your personality.
Take the Assessment for Free
My clients have found this so valuable that I’ve put it into an online quiz that you can take to do your own personal branding assessment. I’ve modified it over the months to make it a little faster and easier, and left it a few of the very specific photo shoot planning details.
If you want to discuss your results and see if maybe it’s time for you to invest in professional branding photos, schedule a free strategy discovery call with me as well.
No obligation, no high-pressure sales pitch. But if we’re a good fit, I’d love to become your personal photographer and make you the Hero of your Brand!