What is business branding? Whether you’re established or fairly new to business, unless you’re a brand expert, the terms thrown around can be really overwhelming and confusing.

If you ask three or four different people, you’ll probably get five different definitions – and probably six or seven ideas on what is essential, what is fluff, and what is a big mistake. In my experience, almost all of these opinions are conflicting because every business owner has different priorities and skills, so what they need from brand designers, stylists and photographers are completely different.

So how the hell are you meant to decide?

You might be thinking that you have a logo and a tagline, specific fonts and a nice palette of brand colours, so you’re all set – right?

Well, kind of. But also, no.

Go on then – what is branding?

Branding for a business is all of those things – the pretty things which visually distinguish you from your peers & competitors, but it’s more than that, too. Your brand is an intangible thing.

It’s your reputation, how people perceive you & your business.

It’s what people say about your business when you’re not in the room, and the kind of people you attract as clients and as referrals.

It’s the clear and consistent design, voice and tone of everything your business says and does.

It’s the things you stand for and believe in – and the things you don’t.

And some of these things, if they’re done well, are very subtle but incredibly effective.

What is a brand identity?

A brand identity is all of these things, both tangible and intangible, pulled together so that anyone who is marketing or representing your business, from a sales rep to the printing company you use, can use the same guidelines to produce a consistent effect.

It can be as simple as a one page document or as complex as a 60 page book distributed to every employee and freelancer associated with your business. (Mine’s just a page…!)

Brand identity document clipped to a copper grid noticeboard

How do I make my brand clear & consistent?

In a perfect world, by finding the right professionals (designer, photographer, copywriter) to translate your ideas into a strong, cohesive & usable brand identity.

Part of my personal & business branding photography is the Brand Clarity workbook, and an in-depth planning session to dive into what’s making you & your business tick, how you are showing up, and how we can capture that in photos which instantly show who you are.

I’m a little bit biased, of course, but your imagery is so very important for this – our brains process images faster than words and the first impression people have of your business will often be from a photo, whether on social media or your website.

Getting a professional to design & help with your brand (either from scratch, or as a refresh) is not cheap, but will be some of the best money you’ve ever invested in your business.

If you’re not quite at the stage where you can invest in professionals, I highly recommend a few resources:

How to Style Your Brand, by Fiona Humberstone, the Brand Stylist – this book will help you whether you are DIY-ing your brand identity or whether you’re planning to brief a designer. It’s clear and foolproof!

Coolors – the best palette planner ever! Be warned, you can waste hours finding colours that go together and ones which clash, and sending pretty sets of colours to your friends – oh wait, is that just me?!

Stock images – not the overused ones from the big companies (which are also really expensive), but smaller stock libraries like mine, Studio 19 Stock, which is hosted on Etsy and designed specifically for startups, bloggers & businesses who need the occasional styled photo, but aren’t yet ready for a bespoke shoot.

How can I make my brand stand out?

Planning, personality and clarity! The clearer you are on what you and your business stand for, and what you are showing up in the world to say and do, the easier it will be to make your brand stand out.

Personality is so key – people buy from people, and there is so much information being thrown at us from all directions these days (did you know you look at your phone an average of 28 times a day?) that being yourself is one of the best ways to elevate your brand.

This is particularly relevant if you are the face of your business, but even if you have a team, being authentic and coming across as a real human is definitely the way forward.

Your personality extends to the font and the colours you choose, too – ponder the difference between these, and the different feel they give to people coming across your business for the first time:

Revisiting & refreshing your brand regularly

Even if your business is well established and your brand is embedded, all businesses evolve over time. It’s a good idea to check in every now and again and make sure that your brand messaging and visuals are still saying the right things.

I can highly recommend a branding photography session at least once a year, as my process helps with this and of course also provides you with fresh, relevant photos for you to use all year in your business. It’s so much more than headshots!

But no matter where you are in your business journey, it’s worth putting aside time in your annual planning to revisit your branding and make sure your marketing and client communications are behaving as you intended them to!

Fancy a chat?

Book a free 15 minute call to talk about what magic we could make for your business & brand.