Episode 35: Should You Rebrand Your Photography Business?

Episode 35: Should You Rebrand Your Photography Business?


Photography Business Institute
Photography Business Institute
If a new logo or changing your business name has been on your mind, I’ve got you. This episode goes behind the scenes on a recent coaching session with one of my super successful Peak Performance coaching students, Jenn Kerfeld. Jenn was questioning whether or not now is a good time to rebrand, and I walked her through what the whole rebranding process looks like, and how you can change your business without having to completely rebrand. This is as real as it gets: an unscripted, unedited coaching session with me.

Why You Don’t Have To Rebrand Your “Old” Photography Business

Jenn’s studio had been in her town for 30 years, but she purchased it from the original owner 14 years ago.  Now, she’s questioning whether or not it would be beneficial to rebrand the studio. It’s named Myers Photography Studio, which is the last name of the person who had it before her. The reality is, the fact that it’s been around 30 years doesn’t matter. Many people want the shiny new thing or the “it” photographer. It doesn’t help you to put on your marketing pieces, “Around Since 1972.” That makes people feel like you’re out of date, more than anything. So, no matter how long your studio has been around, it’s not necessarily a reason to rebrand. But, consistency is a reason, because they know you and they love you. For those who are new, your IDENTITY is what you LOOK like. Your name, your logo, your colors, your style. And your BRAND is how people FEEL about you. So, when you go through a rebrand after they’ve known you as a certain quality and person for 14 years, that’s the risk. It’s like when new Coke came out, back in 1985. Not everyone liked the new Coke more than the original. So, better isn’t always what the consumer wants. “Better” doesn’t always make it better.

How to Jazz Things Up Without Rebranding Your Entire Business

You don’t have to do a total rebrand to jazz things up. A gorgeous promotional piece, beautiful marketing materials, an event. Part of what I love with a rebrand is an in-person event, where you’ve painted the walls, you’ve got new displays and new products. Having an event, painting your walls, having new products, creating excitement. I did it and I didn’t have to rebrand. It’s really two different conversations, but it’s a hard time to rebrand when you can’t get people into your studio right now. You can’t show them the exciting new things and you can’t talk to them in a big group way. It’s a big deal. It takes a budget, time, and planning. I suggest a SWOT analysis, which is a piece in the Photography Business Institute membership area called “Jumpstart Your Brand in 21 Days”. You need to work through these things, look at where you fit, assess your style. A rebrand could blow you up once you clearly define who you are and what you do.

Switching Your Business Model vs. Rebranding

There are things you can do other than a rebrand, but prepare yourself to lose a few people along the way. Maybe not all clients, but some– especially if you’re switching from the Shoot and Burn model to the Boutique business model. You may just lose some of those people, but it doesn’t matter because they were freeple-cheaple people. Now you’re priced profitably. Before you were giving it away. Focus first on what you can do to create value for your brand now with new products. Really, you don’t even need five new products, just one new product. Instead of completely rebranding, if you change your business model, you can reflect your fresh chapter within your studio. At Sarah Petty Photography, we paint our walls often. And when I had a little front display in my last studio where we had more traffic, we would paint that front wall twice a year. The key was keeping our look fresh, but still staying on brand. We had round frames, square frames, hand frames, painted frames… you name it! We visually showed our clients and potential clients that we had cool things happening.

Always Be Doing The Next Cool Thing

Once you rebrand, you ask yourself, “Okay, what’s next?” As boutique photographers, we always have to be doing the next cool thing. In your market, there will be people that copy exactly what you do. I don’t talk about it often, because I don’t want to live in the past, but I had a competitor who took my price list and copied everything, word for word, dollar for dollar. If you’re good at what you do, you’re going to have to get comfortable with the pressure of having to pivot and do new things to stand out and continue being better than your competition. I had to always be creating new things because everybody was doing everything I was doing. How did Sarah Petty Photography stay different? We created round frames. We found those gilded frames and spray painted them hot pink. We were always trying to show something new. Even if it’s something we already had, we would feature it in a different way. Swap out your albums, find a new frame, hand paint your pieces new colors. There are a million things you can do, and that can be accomplished without a rebrand because completely rebranding is a big deal.

How to Make Rebranding Easy

If you’re going to rebrand, don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Find a designer that takes you through the whole process and provides a matrix. You need someone who is going to take that time with you because rebranding everything– logos, colors, the website, your company name– is such a big deal. You can have all of that done. There are two types of activities: drip activities and hammer activities. You drip out smaller things all year long, and then come in with a hammer a couple of times a year. Rebranding is a hammer activity. Plan for it to take a year or more so that everything is in place. You can have the website built, a new logo, fresh colors, and feel like you’re finished with everything, but you’re missing an important step… An awareness campaign. This is where you invite clients and potential clients to an event. In Jenn’s case, this is where she makes it clear that the previous owner didn’t go out of business and her studio isn’t new. The goal is to get your people to see that the baton has been handed off, and you accomplish that goal with your fresh new marketing.

Changing the Name of Your Studio

In Jenn’s case, she wanted to change the business name from the previous owner’s name to her name. But this is a one time deal. If you absolutely have to change your photography business name, you need to get a great logo, and you need to know that this is a one-time thing. That being said, you need to get one logo that you can live with– NOT something not trendy. You can change your clothes and your hair, but don’t change your face and your name. You get one shot to pick that, and it needs to be timeless, not trendy. If you are wanting to change the name of your photography studio, you have to look and see if you can get the internet domain of your business name. That can also help if you’re unsure of the exact name for your studio because if you can’t get the domain for it, you’re going to have to pick a new name. Once you buy the domain, it’s kind of a one-time thing– you don’t want to have to keep switching your website location. It may sound overwhelming thinking, “I’ve only got one shot to make this right,” but it doesn’t have to be that scary. Just know that it’s a big deal. It’s not a quick fix, it’s for the long-term of your business. So, take the time and do it right. When restrictions lift, you could have a bomb grand reopening for new clients and past clients, showing them how far you’ve come. Show them growth and potential. If you know rebranding is right for you, go all-in with it because you only should do this once. So, you’ve got to make it good. You’ve got to make it something you and your clients will love, forever.
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