What’s the Secret to a Brand’s Success? Authenticity. Story. Photos, photos, and photos.
Have you ever wondered what makes a company successful? What is the secret of those brands which manage to stand out in the never-ending sea of launches, pop-ups, and “coming soons”?
Even as recently as a few years ago, blogs, magazines and other content distributors were actually excited to get your press email. In the early days of content, these emails were read, the attached images were saved, the recipient replied, and the result meant you got your feature! But it’s 2017, and oh-so-much has changed. You can no longer approach outreach the same way. Today, the market is oversaturated. Inboxes are overflowing with wordy pitches. If your brand isn’t able to tell its story within the first couple of seconds of that one-shot introduction — that’s it.
After almost ten years in this industry, I’ve scanned hundreds of thousands of pitches. I’ve deleted most of them. I’ve seen every kind of launch under the sun. And I can tell, very quickly, when a brand stands out.
More importantly, I can tell WHY a brand stands out. And I want to share that information with you.
Whether your brand is marketing to the children’s marketplace or not, these tips apply. Information overload is a problem in everyone’s inboxes, and the sheer quantity of brands launched in the last few years can take a toll no matter what industry you’re in. If you’ve been doing this for years but have reached a plateau, or if you’re just starting out, I can help you get out of the “stuck” zone.
So what differentiates a shining brand from one which will just get lost in the never-ending shuffle?
Authenticity. Story. Photos.
Photo : Julie Martin | Styling Priscila Barros
Getting Started: Your Story. //
Know yourself. Know your story! I find that a lot of young brands kiiiind of know what they want, but haven’t fully thought it through. It’s a little like those odd teenage years where you are kind of an adult, but not really, and don’t really know what being an adult truly looks like. Awkward, right? Before you start your adventure in the big ol’ world of commerce, ask yourself who you are — and then, write it down.
Often the stress and tedious aspects of starting a business take away those big, buoying, motivating feelings of “This is who I am! This is why I started this!”
For example, before I started the @folkandflora farm, I wrote down things like —
“Who Am I? A mom, fashion editor, stylist, creative, wife, wanna-be cook, homesteader.
Why am I doing this? Want more time with my family, boys need land to explore, want to grow our own organic food, want to help the community.”
Since I launched the farm (and massive renovation project), there are so many difficult days when I just wanted to throw in the towel. There are so many days when I’m up to my eyeballs in minutia, and I just don’t see the point. But then I pull out my notes, and I remember who I am. I am reminded why I am working as hard as I am, and I keep going.
So once you ask yourself who you are, write it all down, and keep these keywords for motivation. Your keywords will inspire you on the bad days (because you’ll have them) and inspire you on the good days (because you’ll have them). Write the keywords for the story you want to become.
Photo: Rus Anson | Styling Heather Rome | Creative Direction + Prop Styling Priscila Barros
Be Yourself. Be Your Story. //
Now, who are you, when it comes to style? Are you a minimalist? Do you like color? Do you love pattern and clashing hues, but you feel like you need to pare down to monochromatic tones in order to fit in? Remember who you are. All your branding needs to reflect the true you, and show your true self. If it doesn’t — if it’s inauthentic in any way — you will lose the motivation to keep it up, you’ll grow bored, and you’ll become discouraged.
Nothing Is More Important Than Your Photos. //
There are many ways to tell a story. In our image-obsessed, internet-connected culture, the most effective is through photographs. Think about it, when you go on Pinterest — what do you see? When you go on Instagram — what do you see? When you go on Facebook — what do you see FIRST? You see photos and images, of course.
Your product may be killer, your style may be poised to set global trends, your services may be the problem-solving solution of the century, but no one is going to know about it if the image doesn’t first pull them in.
Images are, by far, the number one determinant in how well a brand will do. I can’t possibly say this often enough. Brands simply can not afford to skimp on photos. If the image doesn’t pull the user in, the user will keep on scrolling. If the photo isn’t strong, the user instantly judges the product, and the brand’s quality and reputability.
Do not skimp on your images.
Hire the right people. Hire a stylist. Hire someone to do props or set design. Hire people who know how to recreate your story visually.
You really have one chance to grab someone. This is your total calling card.
This is what sets you apart.
Remember, I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of pitches. I’ve clicked on so many websites, I can’t even tell you. I’ve seen scores upon scores upon scores of folders full of tired, tacky, photographs.
Think about it. Imagine it’s the day of the job interview which could make or break your career. Would you get up in the morning, skip the mirror, not brush your teeth, wear a hastily-chosen outfit, and bring an outdated, torn resume to that job interview? NO! Why? Because you know this is your ONE chance to make that everlasting impression. You know you have to sell yourself in the best imaginable way.
Yet so many brands make this same decision without even realizing it.
Make sure you take the time to develop lifestyle and editorial images which are powerful, professional and creative — not an corner-cutting afterthought.
Pay Attention to your Website. Words Matter. //
Make sure your website showcases your style and meshes well with the spirit of your images. You want it to be clean, easy to read, and capable of telling your story well.
Have you ever read something, and felt as though you could picture the person who wrote it? Why is that? It’s often because a distinct persona comes through the words. There’s a world of difference between a paragraph which lists facts, and a paragraph which comes alive because you can hear the unique voice behind it all.
Invest in hiring someone who can translate your passion, spirit, style, and brand into a unified voice. Find a writer who can craft a verbal personality as expertly as your stylist and photographer can craft winning imagery. This is a great time to toot your own horn and tell the world who you are!
A Print party made especially for some sponsored brands.
Photo Angelina Lopez | Styling Priscila Barros
Be Personable. //
Your customers don’t want disconnected products or a faceless designer. People really want to get to know the designer. People want to see behind the scenes, they want to understand a brand’s ethos, and see the creative process behind it all. We know small business life often means cluttered messes and tedious kinds of tasks that aren’t conducive to social media. But you have to remember, you’re living someone’s dream. And when you look at it that way, showing a glimpse of real life is great! Scouting for fabric? Take a creative iPhone photo to give a glimpse of “design life” to all your fans!
You would not exist without your customer base. Reply to your followers when they leave a comment. Answer their questions. Engage.
Take the Leap. //
If you are ready to take 2017 by storm, let us know. We have a whole team ready to infuse life into your brand story. We can put together an entire season lookbook from beginning to end — or just shoot one single editorial for you. We can completely revamp your website copy — or just give your “About Us” page a refresher. The size of the project is up to you. Our expert team is available to style and shoot any product lines, provide creative direction either remotely or on site, ghostwrite blog posts, draft newsletter copy, write product descriptions, provide skilled design consultation and analysis, help with event and trade show representation, and much, much more.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!