Home · Register · Search · View Winners · Software · Hosting · Software · Join Upload & Sell

Moderated by: Fred Miranda
Username   Password

FM Forum Rules
Wedding Resource List
  

FM Forums | Wedding Photographer | Join Upload & Sell

1
       2       end
  

Archive 2012 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?
  
 
skiboarder72
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #1 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


First of all I just wanted to introduce myself. I've been lurking on here for a few months now and really appreciate all the excellent topics and discussions! Seems like (most) people really want to help others succeed. I'm a wedding photographer based out of Greenville, SC (halfway between Atlanta and Charlotte) and have been shooting weddings professionally for 6 years now. You can checkout my site here.

I've done the site myself as well as all the branding and everything. It ranks great in google and gets a reasonable amount of traffic. It's been working very well apparently though because I have 34 weddings this year and already have 21 booked for next year. Most of my clients are in the $3700-5500 range. Both numbers I'm really happy with, but I'm getting the feeling that I'm starting to outgrow my brand. I think that if I really want to take things to the next level I will probably need a new site and more upscale brand. The only problem is, I don't want to go so high end that I significantly reduce the number of weddings I book each year.

I've been thinking about branding over the past few months and finally met with a local marketing company. They seem to do some really great work. Very interactive sites without the use of flash (my current site has some flash in it, which I know needs to go). They have a team of about 20 people that will interact to create the brand and site, which I really like. I'm not thinking a complete overhall of my entire brand (more of a refreshening), but I do want a new logo, site, layout, and marketing materials.

So I have a few questions for those that have rebranded in the past:


  1. To those that have rebranded? What was your experience? Any tips on picking who and how to do it?
  2. Why fix what isn't broken? I'm booking weddings and charging good rates!
  3. If you wouldn't mind, roughly how much did a full rebranding/new website cost? I've got a quote from them that I think is on the higher side, but I haven't shopped around.
  4. Do you (honestly) think I could benefit from a rebrand?




Oct 15, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Scott Mosher
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #2 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


Do a search for either "branding" or "rebranding" if you haven't done so already. There was a gold mine of information on there.

Otherwise paging TRR...



Oct 15, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Marcus Watts
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #3 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


I would not change too much if what you have is working and those prices seem good.

The site looks nice and the work is beautiful.

I think we may have created this idea that if you brand then everything else falls into place which is why so many bust their chops trying to brand then burn out because no work comes in after all is set in place.

I'm not trying to completely put you off of the idea but bear in mind that you can end up becoming so focused on things others tell you are important that it can take attention off of time you are spending now doing what works.



Oct 15, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Tony Hoffer
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #4 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


skiboarder72 wrote:

  1. To those that have rebranded? What was your experience? Any tips on picking who and how to do it?
  2. Why fix what isn't broken? I'm booking weddings and charging good rates!
  3. If you wouldn't mind, roughly how much did a full rebranding/new website cost? I've got a quote from them that I think is on the higher side, but I haven't shopped around.
  4. Do you (honestly) think I could benefit from a rebrand?



Welcome! I just shot in Greenville a few months back. Beautiful town!


1. While I haven't rebranded in a long time, I will say that it sounds like you're just looking to change your visual identity rather than rebrand. A true rebrand is a much more holistic, disruptive and large-scale change. If you're simply looking to change your visual identity, then your brand shouldn't be hurt at all, but rather enhanced. My tips would be to find out what your brand is first, then change your visual identity to strengthen that or nudge it in the direction you want it to be.

2. I struggle with this too. Some people are risk takers, some aren't. You won't really know what affect it has until you try it. There's nothing wrong with staying in place and enjoying success. Then again, there's a lot to be said for changing and evolving with the times. It's a balancing act.

3. Well again a full rebrand and a website refresh are two different things. For a website refresh, it wouldn't be uncommon for it to be 2k-5k for a custom site. A complete rebrand could cost much more, but rebranding is a lot more about philosophy than cost.

4. I checked out your site. It seems very functional and your work is strong. If I was judging your brand entirely on the two things that I know about you (this post and your website), I'd say that the two seem to give off pretty good brand cohesion. That's a good thing. But the real question would be if your website and the other parts of your brand do that now or could do it better.

Hope that helps!



Oct 15, 2012 at 01:46 PM
TRReichman
Online
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #5 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


skiboarder72 wrote:
Most of my clients are in the $3700-5500 range. Both numbers I'm really happy with, but I'm getting the feeling that I'm starting to outgrow my brand. I think that if I really want to take things to the next level I will probably need a new site and more upscale brand. The only problem is, I don't want to go so high end that I significantly reduce the number of weddings I book each year.


I'm not really seeing a specific goal here. This sort of sounds like the commonly held idea that businesses constantly need to be growing (an idea I disagree with, BTW). So without understanding what this "next level" is we can't determine whether what you currently have will get you there or not. Having said that the profile you're putting out is pretty general (we win awards, we'll travel anywhere, we work candid, etc). It isn't really differentiating at all. Having said that it doesn't have to be because you are booking a lot of middle market work and you are appealing to a broad base of people. That's a fairly successful model these days and it sounds like you are working it well. So without some clear goals I wouldn't suggest messing with it or wasting money to change visual identity for the sake of changing.

skiboarder72 wrote:

  1. To those that have rebranded? What was your experience? Any tips on picking who and how to do it?
  2. Why fix what isn't broken? I'm booking weddings and charging good rates!
  3. If you wouldn't mind, roughly how much did a full rebranding/new website cost? I've got a quote from them that I think is on the higher side, but I haven't shopped around.
  4. Do you (honestly) think I could benefit from a rebrand?



1 - I think design is massively overrated and (this is my own super-unpopular opinion) design choices often serve to qualify good clients out of working with you more than they bring the right people in. I realize that is an unpopular stance but that's what I've come to believe. Having said that I do think visual identity matters most at the middle levels of the market. If you were planning on moving upmarket I'd spend less and do-it-yourself (another unpopular opinion I'm convinced of).
2 - True - I'm not seeing a compelling reason or goal to justify a change
3 - We've rebranded many times and other than buying a website template or wordpress theme we've spent nothing every time.
4 - No, you'd lose money unless you can better articulate your goals.

- trr



Oct 15, 2012 at 04:06 PM
TheGE
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #6 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


I think that if I really want to take things to the next level I will probably need a new site and more upscale brand. The only problem is, I don't want to go so high end that I significantly reduce the number of weddings I book each year.
Not likely that'll happen from redesigning a web site.



Oct 15, 2012 at 04:47 PM
TTLKurtis
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #7 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


The simple answer, beyond what Tony and Todd have said...

Don't change anything if it's working well and you're happy with what you're doing. Keep doing what you're doing.



Oct 15, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Marcus Watts
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #8 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


TRReichman wrote:
I'm not really seeing a specific goal here. This sort of sounds like the commonly held idea that businesses constantly need to be growing (an idea I disagree with, BTW). So without understanding what this "next level" is we can't determine whether what you currently have will get you there or not. Having said that the profile you're putting out is pretty general (we win awards, we'll travel anywhere, we work candid, etc). It isn't really differentiating at all. Having said that it doesn't have to be because you are booking a lot of middle market work and you are
...Show more

I don't always agree with everything you say but you have a very good mind and ability to articulate your thoughts succinctly.

Great post.



Oct 16, 2012 at 12:38 PM
skiboarder72
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #9 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


Marcus Watts wrote:
I would not change too much if what you have is working and those prices seem good.

The site looks nice and the work is beautiful.

I think we may have created this idea that if you brand then everything else falls into place which is why so many bust their chops trying to brand then burn out because no work comes in after all is set in place.

I'm not trying to completely put you off of the idea but bear in mind that you can end up becoming so focused on things others tell you are important that
...Show more

Thanks Marcus for your feedback! I do hear what your saying that a lot of people get bent out of shape on branding. There is a lot to be said for having a working business model, but how can someone standout if they don't take some time to update and refresh their visual identity every few years. I think its important to have the very best site and brand possible. Look at companies like BMW that pour tons of money/time into creating a brand. Even if their cars weren't the best in the segment, people would still buy them! Just look at Jasmine Star... her work (honestly) isn't that great/groundbreaking, but it's really her brand that allows her to succeed so well!


Tony Hoffer wrote:
Welcome! I just shot in Greenville a few months back. Beautiful town!

1. While I haven't rebranded in a long time, I will say that it sounds like you're just looking to change your visual identity rather than rebrand. A true rebrand is a much more holistic, disruptive and large-scale change. If you're simply looking to change your visual identity, then your brand shouldn't be hurt at all, but rather enhanced. My tips would be to find out what your brand is first, then change your visual identity to strengthen that or nudge it in the direction you want it
...Show more

Thanks Tony that was really helpful! I really like what you said about being a risk taker. I guess that's a lot of what this decision comes down to. Sure I have a business that is working well right now, but I'm a strong believer that your business is either shrinking or growing, and if your not constantly working to grow your business then it will start shrinking. I've worked a lot on the backend marketing side of things but haven't really done a real deep dive on my brand, with the upcoming off-season coming up I think it might be a good idea to take a look at it. Besides, since next year is so full already, it will give me a cushion to see if the new brand/site is hurting or helping me, and I can always go back if need be.

I've been quoted 8k for a full rebranding, design of all my marketing materials (pricing guide, displays, business cards, ect.), and a new website. While it's a lot of money I think it's reasonable for the amount of work they will be putting in as a team. Plus they are willing to trade out for some photography services, which can either bring down the cost a bit, or they can do a promo video as well. They don't have a preferred photographer right now so I'm sure that doing a rebrand with them could bring in a bunch of new jobs. They frequently have clients that need photo shoots.

Tony, I also like what you said about finding what my brand is first and then changing my visual identity to form around it. I think this is more of the direction I want to go in. I don't want to do a full "rebrand" but just shift my direction and update my visual identity.

TRReichman wrote:
I'm not really seeing a specific goal here. This sort of sounds like the commonly held idea that businesses constantly need to be growing (an idea I disagree with, BTW). So without understanding what this "next level" is we can't determine whether what you currently have will get you there or not. Having said that the profile you're putting out is pretty general (we win awards, we'll travel anywhere, we work candid, etc). It isn't really differentiating at all. Having said that it doesn't have to be because you are booking a lot of middle market work and you are
...Show more

Thanks for giving your feedback! I can definitely see that you have a very different viewpoint than most people (and most of the things I've read). I agree with you that I need to set more definite goals before I go and rebrand. But what about the flip side? What if I don't set specific goals, get my website and visual identity updated, modern, targeted, and useful, and see where that takes me? I think there is a lot to be said for having a top-notch website and visual identity, especially in a field where that is the first and sometimes only impression I can make on a potential client. I'm not sure how a wordpress theme will really help me stand out.

TRReichman wrote:
1 - I think design is massively overrated and (this is my own super-unpopular opinion) design choices often serve to qualify good clients out of working with you more than they bring the right people in. I realize that is an unpopular stance but that's what I've come to believe. Having said that I do think visual identity matters most at the middle levels of the market. If you were planning on moving upmarket I'd spend less and do-it-yourself (another unpopular opinion I'm convinced of).


I think you may have a good point in here but I'm not seeing your logic behind it. Can you explain a bit more?

TTLKurtis wrote:
Don't change anything if it's working well and you're happy with what you're doing. Keep doing what you're doing.


I think I saw this quote on the wall at Kodak, just before they filed for Chapter 11



Oct 16, 2012 at 02:02 PM
TRReichman
Online
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #10 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


There is a difference between a brand and a visual identity. Branding is what your business stands for - it is the thing that like-minded people hire you for. Visual Identity is how everything looks. People follow Jasmine Star for her brand - the things she says and what she allows people to believe about what they can achieve and the value of their personalities. No one follows her (solely) because of her visual identity.

You're talking about spending thousands on collateral. You're also (sort of) talking about moving upmarket. I think it is fair to say that I work in the upper levels of the market and none of the vendors I work with have fancy business cards, price guides (or any printed materials), displays, or even flashy websites. In fact, most of them have pretty rudimentary websites. The visual identity simply isn't what makes an upmarket company work. It really sounds like you want to do this, so if you want to spend the money go for it, but I don't think it is going to yield much of anything other than a depleted bank account.

With respect to creating an updated visual identity and seeing what happens I just think that is an awfully expensive way to try and co-opt value from design. I find that instead of wanting to build a meaningful company photographers are looking for anything they can throw money at to try and buy value. Redesigning websites, getting more expensive logos/albums/cameras/biz cards/etc is all trying to buy value instead of creating it. Most of the companies that I have mentored that have made big strides in attracting new business and growing in satisfying ways have done so FOR FREE. Spending money on improving your brand is often a fool's errand, and I have years of personal and mentoring experience to back up that belief.

I say that design qualifies people out instead of in because a strong brand attracts clients based on core emotional beliefs. Those beliefs, if well communicated, are compelling across more superficial demographic lines. Whether or not someone like clean, modern design (for example) does not tell you whether or not they believe what you believe. But if your qualifying methodology requires a client to like your visual identity before they align with your core value you've layered another set of obstacles on booking the right person.

As far as growing vs. shrinking I think this is an utter fallacy built upon the publicly-traded company model which doesn't bear much relevance to a small business such as ours. The only thing a company needs to do is execute on its core value proposition. I work with a lot of photographers who buy into the growth myth only to find themselves several years in and seemingly successful on the outside but very dissatisfied by how their business has grown and gotten away from their original goals. Chasing growth for its own sake or to satisfy an external definition of success is a recipe for burnout and stagnation and also leads to massive business inefficiency. I've worked with very successful entrepreneurs in photography and outside of this industry who abandoned the constant growth model to focus on core value - they all temporarily lowered overall revenue and then massively increased profitability and built stronger, smaller businesses that have a far lower cost to acquire clients. Growth isn't manifest destiny for the small business owner, core brand execution is.

- trr



Oct 16, 2012 at 02:58 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



Marcus Watts
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #11 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


Has Jasmine changed her identity much? i like what she has but i think she is sticking with what is working for her.

Also bear in mind that her situation is unique. I don't like people putting her down on forums and this is not intended as that. Over the last few years WPPI in order to make their own yearly pilgrimage more attractive began giving speaking space to photographers who were borderline amateur but pimped them out as if they were rock stars.

Several of these greatly inflated their own stories of success but the fact is they were given an audience made up largely of those to new to know any better. That is like someone giving you a massive database of clients for free.

David Jay was one of these photographers and he leveraged the sizable audience he was handed to create a business selling a slideshow program then in more recent times web sites. From a business perspective he utilized the opportunity handed to him brilliantly.

He in turn gave Jasmine an audience so her following came from going on tour with DJ and once she had a following then it was of course in the interest of WPPI and others to give her a platform. She would bring in followers and also gain some.

That is not a judgement on the content of anything she has to say nor on the way the audience was gained. It just is what it is. If someone offered you a huge following as a business person you would be mad not to take it.

The perception is it comes down to her branding. I think it is far more than that and changing up your website when you already have a system that works, well i just hope it's not based on that perception.

Perhaps what you need is systems that build on what you have to give your clients the opportunity to spend more without dismantling what you have.

All the best whatever you do.



Oct 16, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Tony Hoffer
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #12 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


TRReichman wrote:
There is a difference between a brand and a visual identity. Branding is what your business stands for - it is the thing that like-minded people hire you for. Visual Identity is how everything looks. People follow Jasmine Star for her brand - the things she says and what she allows people to believe about what they can achieve and the value of their personalities. No one follows her (solely) because of her visual identity.

You're talking about spending thousands on collateral. You're also (sort of) talking about moving upmarket. I think it is fair to say that I work
...Show more

Few posts will be more directly helpful and informative than this.



Oct 16, 2012 at 03:20 PM
XPO239
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #13 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?



- trr


Few posts will be more directly helpful and informative than this.


+1


Oct 16, 2012 at 03:44 PM
hardlyboring
Online
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #14 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


ya I cannot add much that has not already been said.
It took me and my business years and years to finally get to a place where I understood (or kind of understand) what a brand is and exactly what TRR is talking about. His words are true.
Your website is pretty good and the photos are good enough to be shooting at whatever price range you want. Perhaps a change of font and a small rework of the website would accomplish some of the aesthetic goals you have for your business. The site also has a top menu and bottom menu and I think it might be easier if there was just one menu.

Good luck!



Oct 16, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Ian Ivey
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #15 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


One part of Todd's argument bears more discussion: the possibility that "design choices often serve to qualify good clients out of working with you more than they bring the right people in."

1) Middle-market issues
In the middle-market neighborhood, an amateurish visual presentation might cause identity-conscious clients to choose a more polished vendor. I have this problem now. I'm in the $4000-$5500 range, and I think my current site and identity hurts me. My site is weak, and I don't know how to get it quite right without spending a bunch of money on it, so I've sat still when I probably should have fixed this a year ago.

I do think a site- and visual-identity-upgrade would help me avoid turning off potential clients in my current target bracket. My current site and logo probably cause some confusion or irritation from navigation issues, and possibly some concern about quality that I then have to overcome.

I do not think a redesign would help me move up into a higher bracket. And I would not gain clients simply because they like an improved design.

2) Up-market issues
If Todd's assessment is correct, up-market clients just don't place the same kind of value on the photographer's visual presence that middle-market clients might. I suspect this is correct. One main reason is that the up-market brides (for convenience, let's call them $8000+) don't find their photographers on the web. They find them by referral. So the bride is likely to see the web site and collateral only after she has the information most important to her decision.

So a redesign might be of more value to photographers looking to move into the middle-market bracket, or to improve success there, because those clients are more likely to 1) find you by your collateral, and 2) consume and share your product in that context.

Photographers looking to move into an up-market bracket probably need to think more about who their new target clients are and how their values differ from the values of the middle market. Because they differ vastly.



Oct 18, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Marcus Watts
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #16 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


The higher end client if we will call them that do come by referral but not only that. In fact it is not always so much about the client being higher end as it is about being educated as to the value of what they are investing in.

A client who may have thought to only spend $1000 may well spend $6000+ when first they have a better appreciation of the value, second they are provided with options to spend that amount of money and lastly it is made affordable by not sucking the entire amount out of them all at once.

So it comes back to systems, part of which involves education and qualification.

Therefore your web site is not 90% of your marketing as it is for many but simply a part of a bigger plan.

What can your client get for $6000, $8000, $10,000 or more? If you don't know you wont sell it. If you know but do not have it to show you may sell it but not likely.



Oct 18, 2012 at 08:31 AM
TRReichman
Online
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #17 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


My goal here is not to be argumentative, simply to point out where my own experience has run counter.

Marcus Watts wrote:
The higher end client if we will call them that do come by referral but not only that. In fact it is not always so much about the client being higher end as it is about being educated as to the value of what they are investing in.


I wouldn't say that higher-end clients are more educated as to the value of what we provide. Often they are less so. They tend to understand that they can afford the best of a given set of offerings and choose accordingly.

Marcus Watts wrote:
A client who may have thought to only spend $1000 may well spend $6000+ when first they have a better appreciation of the value, second they are provided with options to spend that amount of money and lastly it is made affordable by not sucking the entire amount out of them all at once.


I've never been able to take a $1k client to $6K. I do agree that providing higher-priced options is a big factor in booking higher-priced work. There was a time where I was able to make high wedding averages by spreading the cost over 18-24 months. However, that was working more the middle of the market and prior to the recession. That's not to say it isn't possible now, but in my own case we make almost everything upfront. On occasion we'll add a parent's book on the back end but that's it. These clients seem to want to know upfront what they will be spending.

Marcus Watts wrote:
So it comes back to systems, part of which involves education and qualification.


I don't educate anyone anymore. I let them educate me and adjust accordingly. I also don't qualify out anyone, though I think a certain small amount of that is being done through how we manage our referrals.

Marcus Watts wrote:
Therefore your web site is not 90% of your marketing as it is for many but simply a part of a bigger plan.


Yes, the website becomes a much smaller factor. Basically it proves that you have a business. I find after clients book me they'll take a closer look at what is on the website.

Marcus Watts wrote:
What can your client get for $6000, $8000, $10,000 or more? If you don't know you wont sell it. If you know but do not have it to show you may sell it but not likely.


You might be able to start low and then show a client what $6-10K will get them and have some people move upward. There are also clients who don't need any more than basic coverage and are willing to spend $6-10K for it. There is a big difference between those 2 clients and it is very hard to market and attract both at the same time. You absolutely have to offer it to sell it though.

- trr



Oct 18, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Ziffl3
Online
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #18 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


Thanks Todd & Tony. good stuff.




Oct 18, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Marcus Watts
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #19 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


I don't think you are being argumentative TRR just because your experience is different to mine.

Still you have to have a 10k offering and be able to show it to sell a 10k offering. Reworking the brand has less to do with getting there than changing what one does.

I wasn't suggesting start at 1k and upsell to 6k but that can be done. I do mean that someone who think they have a budget of a grand and wants a disc will get a better handle on value when they see some nice albums and other products. Basic sales is people want what they see and before they see it presented well clients often just think of a disc.

I would also add don't ever lose an opportunity to sell after. No hard arm stuff but why not provide an opportunity for people to spend more if they wish. The time a client will most appreciate the value of their images is once they see them for the first time.

When they booked a 20 page album may have made sense but once they see those images and how they may better tell the story in a 40 page album then that is surely the best thing to do for the client and yourself.




Oct 18, 2012 at 03:43 PM
TRReichman
Online
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #20 · Rebranding... when is it a good idea?


Marcus Watts wrote:
I would also add don't ever lose an opportunity to sell after. No hard arm stuff but why not provide an opportunity for people to spend more if they wish. The time a client will most appreciate the value of their images is once they see them for the first time.


If what you are primarily selling is images. I'm primarily selling service and an approach. They don't have to see the images to understand the value in that case.

Marcus Watts wrote:
When they booked a 20 page album may have made sense but once they see those images and how they may better tell the story in a 40 page album then that is surely the best thing to do for the client and yourself.


I'd rather work with people that just buy the 60 page album upfront. I did used to do the upsell/overdesign thing but I don't want the uncertainty and hassle and neither do most of the people I work with. Photographers aim low too often, leading with the worst they can do instead of the best. I've found leading with the best you can do attracts people who want the best of things instead of the lowest buy in.

- trr



Oct 18, 2012 at 03:55 PM
1
       2       end




FM Forums | Wedding Photographer | Join Upload & Sell

1
       2       end
    
 

You are not logged in. Login or Register

Username   Password    Retrive password