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Branding and Marketing

Why Branding and Marketing for Photography?

To market yourself as a creative artist or photographer, one must understand the subtle differences between a brand, branding and marketing.  Many artists, especially photographers, don’t understand all the hoopla around branding and marketing.  They think it’s about selling pretty pictures when in reality, this is a very small part of the creative visual process.

So, let’s understand the terms and discuss the differences.  A Brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of its customer. Brands are used in businessmarketing, and advertising.  Branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help to distinguish a company or products from competitors, aiming to create a lasting impression in the minds of its clients. The key components that form a brand’s toolbox include a brand’s identity, brand communication (such as logos and trademarks) and brand awareness. The American Marketing Association has defined Marketing as “the activity and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings or goods that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

In the creative realm, branding and marketing take on some new challenges.  As a photographer, you still need a brand and you still need marketing for that brand.  The difference is your brand isn’t a singular product.  It is subjective and esoteric.  Your brand is a collection of images, visual experiences, lifestyle connotations and is relationship based.  So, you aren’t selling just an image.  You are selling an entire visual relationship.  You are selling confidence, trustworthiness and friendliness, as well as the ability to create unique visual images under pressure.

Many photographers, and other artists in general, can be very unknowingly arrogant about their craft.  Some artists think that if I create great photography, people will find me.  That can be true in a small percentage of cases.  It has always been my rule of thumb to tell photographers to spend between 8 – 10% of your income marketing your brand.  Sometimes we forget that we are in the advertising business with our goods and services.  It doesn’t matter whether it is consumer advertising or business to business.

It is also critical to understand who you are marketing to.  We can love what we do and love our imagery, but we aren’t selling to ourselves.  Once an artist gets over their personal favorites and delves into what sells and is sellable, then they can really understand the subtle differences between brands, branding and marketing.

In closing, to keep this paper brief, this is the take away that I want photographers to have.  Branding is a statement more about who you are, than what you do?  Marketing is the tool kit that takes “what you do” and helps explain “who you are.”

Rick Souders, owner of Souders Studios, Inc. has been in the photography business for 30 years.  Rick has worked in a marketing services department for a fortune 250 company.  He has worked at one of the largest promotional agencies in the US and he has owned his own photography Studio for 20 years.  Rick has travelled the country lecturing on marketing and self-promotion.  He has also written a couple of books.  You can see Ricks work at

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