February 9, 2019
Because they’re not original enough.
I know it’s tough to hear that, but my goal is to help you build a stronger and more differentiated brand. In order to do that, you need to put forward something memorable. And in a saturated market, it’s even more important to stand out.
When I ask creative entrepreneurs (especially photographers) to describe their brand with three words, nearly every single person comes up with at least one of these three keywords:
And it makes sense. These are three things most wedding-industry clients are in fact seeking. So they’re not necessarily bad. But they also don’t really tell us anything memorable about you or your brand. Here’s why these three words really don’t work.
Modern. Everyone wants their brand to be modern. Literally everyone. Nobody has ever come to me and asked for a brand that feels outdated. That would be ridiculous. Even the clients who do lean toward an Old-World aesthetic still say “I want it to feel traditional… but like still modern.” I know. Because you all do. Who would ever want a newly designed logo that didn’t feel fresh?
Guess what? We’ve all used the word “modern” so much that it really doesn’t have any meaning. One client tells me they want to have a “modern” brand and it means something entirely different from another client’s vision of what “modern” looks like. The word is not specific enough anymore. I’ve come across a few rare instances where it really does work for a brand—but those are few and far between.
Telling me your brand is “modern” really doesn’t tell me anything at all. It’s time to find another word!
Timeless. Again, like “modern,” timeless is kind of a no-brainer. Nobody ever tells me they want a brand that will go out of style within a few months. Everyone desires a brand that will stand the test of time (easier said than done!). “Timeless” just doesn’t really tell me much about who you are or why I should invest in your brand.
And if you’re promising “timeless” to wedding clients… well, everyone wants to believe their wedding photos will last for a lifetime. They will—because they represent the most joyous day of someone’s life. Wedding photos are inherently timeless. As long as you’re not jumping on crazy trends (remember selective coloring?!), it’s fairly reasonable to expect that the gallery you deliver will in fact be timeless—just like every other wedding gallery delivered to every other client by every other photographer.
Romantic. Well… I sure hope so! You’re in the wedding industry! If you weren’t romantic in some way, I’d be worried. Plus, your entire portfolio is filled with people who are clearly in love. There’s a basic principle in design: you either say something or you show it. Don’t do both. It’s patronizing to your viewer. They’re smarter than that. They can look at your galleries and infer that you will indeed capture romantic imagery on their wedding day. Tell us something we don’t know!
Like I said, clients do like to hear these words. Engaged couples like the idea of a modern, timeless, and romantic wedding gallery. It’s fine to use those words throughout your website copy—in fact, I think it’s a good idea to sprinkle them throughout your messaging. But it won’t help you stand out in a sea of other wedding photographers.
Without brand research, I can’t tell you what exactly that word is. But I’d like to help you kickstart the brainstorming process.
The whole idea here is to take it a step further. Yes, your brand is romantic. But why? How? In what way? Does your brand speak to high school sweethearts who fell in love at first sight? Or does it speak to a wild and adventurous love story? Maybe you love working with nerdy couples who bonded over a shared geeky interest. Is it all about the poetic passion between two lovers? Or do you talk about the less-glamorous everyday teamwork of building a relationship? None of these answers are right or wrong—they’re just different and more specific ways to frame the same broad idea of romantic.
Below you’ll find a list of alternative words that might be more impactful and memorable than modern, timeless, and romantic… maybe one of them feels like a good fit for you! Each one carries a different meaning, but it’s related to the overarching generic word. Take a look, or break out your own Thesaurus. Better yet, take a different route altogether. Do a little research and soul-searching. What do you offer that is different?
Before you dive into brainstorming, I just want to say: thanks for reading along and being willing to take a critical look at your own brand. It’s not easy to do, but I’m confident that switching just one word will really make a difference when clients land on your website! Take a look below and see if this list sparks any ideas for alternative brand keywords:
Modern: first I want you to pause for a moment of intentional soul-searching: are you really modern? Is “modern” really the hallmark of your brand? Are you truly pushing boundaries? Are you innovative and groundbreaking? Or can we simply expect (as we should) that you will not be outdated?
Take a good look at whether or not this should really be in the top three words you want to represent your brand. Alternatives:
Timeless: timeless isn’t a bad word. But here’s the problem: literally everyone is using it. How can you differentiate yourself? Is there another adjective that would speak more specifically to the quality of your work? Possible alternatives:
Romantic: duh. (Sorry, but it’s true!) Like I mentioned above… if you’re in the wedding industry, I sure hope your work can be categorized as romantic! Let’s push the boundaries a little bit to explore more specific and strategic descriptors. Possible alternatives:
… or maybe you need to explore a new direction altogether? Here are a few possibilities to get you thinking:
Relatable / Resourceful / Artistic / Feminine / Imaginative / Expressive / Courageous / Adaptable / Enthusiastic / Sincere / Humorous / Tasteful / Cultivated / Dignified / Approachable / Luxury / Dramatic / Daring / Bold / Endearing / Inviting / Unconventional / Wistful / Confident / Dynamic / Sensitive / Serene / Delicate
Even better? Combine an adverb with an adjective:
Delightfully Relatable. Pleasantly Resourceful. Fiercely Feminine.
Thanks for sticking with me for a little tough love! I promise it’s all with good intention: to help you develop a sharp brand strategy that will differentiate you in a crowd. Even if your brand is modern, timeless, and romantic… I know that there’s more to it! Let’s dive into your brand and find out what makes it unique—a truly special experience for your clients.
Need help? Don’t be afraid to reach out! I love diving into brand strategy with my clients and helping them uncover the unique aspects of their services!
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