by Ron Pybus Published 01/02/2009
Mention Branding to most people and they will think you are referring to a logo or other means of product identification, but branding is actually much wider.
Branding symbols will help you build up recognition in the marketplace but they are only a small part, and usually the latter part of a total process to create your image as being different to others in the marketplace. They help maintain loyalty.
To begin with you have to know where you stand or wish to stand in the marketplace. You then have to match everything to that position and gradually build up your brand.
We operate a studio in a relatively poor area of Wiltshire where income is tight and there are few 'high-tech' jobs.
We were aware that we provided a service that pandered to the expressed needs of the people in this position and we purposely ignored any marketing to the more affluent.
My whole business was built on a quality product, a quick turnaround, and minimal services but with extras available at a price. We often referred to ourselves as the Easy Jet of the photographic world but with customer care as paramount. It was clear that in a recession this target population was the most vulnerable. Amply demonstrated with the cancellations on the Saturday following the announcement of the closure of Bowyers, the town's main employer and two other nearby factories belonging to Avon Tyres and Celcon Blocks - total job losses circa 1,400. We lost seven sittings on the Saturday when Bowyers announced closure!
In the local photographic hierarchy there was clearly a gap just above us in the pecking order and we took the decision to move our operations up into a higher plane, thus the whole process of re-branding began.
We started with the actual studio. It had been often described as 'homely' and we wanted to keep that feel, but it had to be smarter. We did not want a clone of a Venture studio but it needed to be more in keeping with our new image and new brand.
We reduced the number of props that we used and initially stored them well away from the studio (we could bring them back if necessary). A few months down the line and they have mostly gone to a charity shop. The items we did retain were stored in proper cupboards. The settee was sold off and all the lighting wires were put into discreet conduit.
The backdrop, which used to hang from the ceiling was mounted in the roof space above through a slit in the ceiling and the raised floor, previously supporting the white vinyl backgroun, was removed to make it level and the old flooring removed and new laminate was fitted.
New brackets were used to support lights. Finally the whole room was redecorated and new ceiling lights fitted. We now have a much smarter studio, a flat floor, greater headroom and a safer working environment, but most of all we have lots of comments about the attractiveness of the studio with several people commenting on our move 'up-market'.
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