One of the things I’ve learned from working with business owners to create their brand images is that, like most marketing ventures, KNOWING your brand deeply, inside and out, is the key factor in nailing incredibly “on-brand” images.
Of course, you know what you DO as a business and likely you feel good about WHO you’re trying to attract…but fully understanding HOW you position yourself and how you TALK about it is another level of understanding.
Working with Jennifer Percival of Women Rocking Real Estate has been one of my favorite and most “successful” brands to photograph (meaning I felt like her brand clarity really let me step into my photo, marketing, and creative expertise).
Jen is a business coach for real estate agents, helping them grow their businesses organically and online without having to resort to the outdated tactics often taught by others in the industry. (You know, like spending thousands on mailers that will be immediately thrown in the trash.) She originally came to me because she had launched new products and was looking for a refresh/update from her first brand photoshoot.
Jen came to our session with clear messaging and a solid understanding of her ideal clients, which freed me up to do what I do best – creating purposeful images conveying what you want to say on your website and other areas of your business.
She knew exactly what she wanted to say and how she was planning to implement the photos in her marketing to elevate her message. Because she had taken brand photos before, she made sure to let me know what worked previously and what she wished she’d had more of – this is why I highly recommend planning a brand shoot every year or so, so you can keep learning and elevating your imagery.
She came into the session with specific needs such as:
Learning these needs is a reason to plan for multiple brand shoots. The first one lays the groundwork, but the second and the third are automatically going to be better because the first one will give you a good foundation for you to get started but make notes of what would be better for how you use the photos.
When you know your needs and how you’re going to implement the use of the photos, that is when you’re ready to invest in brand photos. If you don’t feel like you’re at that point, you need to do more digging into what you want to say with your brand, website, and overall messaging.
(If you need help digging and creating a strategy, I can help you get started.)
With Jen, we discussed her ideal client – women who are trying to grow their real estate business but also want a balanced lifestyle that allows them to raise families, enjoy vacations, and live life.
Jen is changing the landscape of real estate marketing, making it more content focused, rather than relying on going door-to-door, showing her clients that it’s possible to run a successful business while still having the time and freedom to have the lifestyle they want.
To speak to her ideal client, we wanted to demonstrate if you do the work, you can have the lifestyle you want. Jen rented out a beach house on Bald Head Island for her family vacation, and it was perfect to use this property to our advantage by doing the brand shoot there – I mean, what’s more authentic than her ACTUALLY living the life she says she can help you build!
We capitalized on the coastal vibes and included her family in a few photos to demonstrate that the life her clients want is achievable.
Jen’s business is aspirational, so her photos mirror that.
To prepare for the shoot, I went through Jen’s website and took note of every stock photo that was used. I set a goal to replace every stock photo with a custom brand photo of her.
It was important to physically put Jen into the photos, expressing the emotions that her clients feel, so they see themselves in her, rather than in a generic stock photo.
Jen’s three “storylines” for her brand shoot were:
This storyline was focused on specific processes and tools that she provides in her courses and coaching. The photos showed examples of the rituals she has to keep her life balanced – like making coffee, putting down her phone as she starts her day, working on her laptop, mapping out a business plan, and recording marketing videos on her phone.
Jen is huge on video content, so we made sure to show her actually recording herself, along with including sneak peeks into her workbooks that come along with her teachings.
The purpose of this storyline was to make sure she had practical and literal photos of her products and the teaching within them. These would be used to directly sell the product or a concept, showing exactly what it looks like implemented.
A good brand photo gallery has a mix of literal, realistic images as well as conceptual ones.
This storyline is much more conceptual in nature, focusing on the emotions and pain points of her clients – a way for Jen to show that she has done what her clients are doing. She’s tried the old school methods, she’s felt stressed, and scared, and has been overwhelmed. She has been where her clients have been and found a better way to do things.
While it may seem a little backward to show the coach experiencing frustration (because they’re supposed to know it all, right?), actually showing Jen experiencing these emotions creates further trust and authority with her clients. It shows them that she has been where they are, but got through it, so she, in turn, can help them through it.
This is where we really took advantage of the Bald Head Island house, beach, and marina. We wanted to highlight the aspirational aspect of her brand, showing off the easy-going, coastal vibes, sitting on the porch, drinking lemonade, and not stressing about work.
We also used her family for a few photos in this storyline because that is a huge reason for her seeking and wanting to share a life of balance.
This day was truly a success because Jen was able to fully show up to the brand shoot and capitalize on each minute we had together. She came prepared not only with specific plans for the photos she wanted and how she was going to implement them, but also outfits that coordinated with her brand colors, props and printouts, and a ready-for-anything attitude when it came to having to get into character.
The way she viewed this shoot truly is a testimony to her deep understanding of her brand, her target market, and her key messages. Our shoot was successful and productive, and she was still able to have meaningful time with her family at the end of the day.
She is everything her ideal client wants.
I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.
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