If I had $1 for every great artist I’ve seen with horrible branding tools, I could put down a sizable amount on a condo… Business cards formatted for hedge fudge executives – black or blue Times New Roman text centered on a matte white or cream 3.5×2″ card. Websites designed using Wix. Logos that appear to have been cut and pasted in an “editing” program like Paint. Photos taken with blurry/grainy camera phones, regular point-and-shoots, or dSLRs on A (Automatic) or P (Program). Advertisements and flyers with zero sense of composition and so many fonts and colors it looks like a typography and Crayola orgy. You’ve seen them too… maybe in your own branding… Here are a few tips to streamline and organize your look to attract your target market!

I have been fortunate enough to have a great designer by my side from the conception of my photography and retouching career. I’ve been through 6 (or more) business card designs, 3 websites (working on the 4th), 2 logos, and a slew of advertisements. Guess what… that’s fine! As artists, we grow and our branding will grow with us! At the moment I had my first website and business card, they were perfect for my work at the time. I expanded on my company and needed to update both to represent the expansion. As my work progressed, I wanted to showcase what I was capable of on my new cards. I needed new ads to attract clientele more suited to my services. I also had to stay current with the modern appeal of my industry. Taking all of this into consideration, whenever I brand – or re-brand – I research the work of those I admire and whose level I aspire to achieve, I research others in my field in my area as they are who I’m competing with, and I consider how I want to be perceived by my target market. Then I work with my graphic designer to create an image that screams NayMarie.

Business Cards: Even if you do not have a website, you should have business cards with your name, email address, and social networking pages. When you speak with someone about your company or service, you should always leave them with something they can use to contact you. It should be creative and express you and your company’s personality. It should speak to your target market in a way where if you leave it on a table they will pick it up because it sparked their interest. If you do have a website and logo, they should both be on your card. Google creative business cards for design ideas and possibilities!

Website: Nowadays, your website speaks volumes for the professionalism of you and your company. Is it clean? User-friendly? Easy to navigate? Does it have clear imagery and advertisements? It’s like the old MySpace vs the NEW MySpace. Two completely different worlds. The old original MySpace was horrible and blocky and cluttered. The new MySpace is a modern dream. It’s visually stunning and easy to navigate. Those are two key aspects to a website – visual appeal and ease of navigation – the third is brand personality. Does your website embody your brand or is it just neatly put together?

Logo: Your logo is the equivalent of your brand. It is essentially a stamp to represent you. Think of how your logo will look among a fleet of other logos. Does it stand out? Is it professionally designed? Does it feature elements overly used in your field? Does it scream your name when people view it?

Photo: I’m going to keep this section short and simple. As a photographer, I could end up venting all day instead of providing professional advice lol. I obviously always utilize my own images for promotion (and you should hire me for yours as well *wink wink*) because I understand the quality of my product. All images should be crisp and the appropriate resolution. You cannot utilize web quality images on print material. Ensure the proper items are in focus. If you sell shoes, the shoes should be the focal point, not the background image. Attempt creative imagery, but don’t overdo it. Make sure it tells the proper story that will attract your target market.

Advertisements: Similarly to your images, your ads should also tell a story and attract your target market. You can include photos in ads, use illustrations, or pure type. Either way, make sure there is a direction. What is the most important message about your ad? What do you want potential clients and customers to see first? Typically the eye is attracted to the largest item so don’t make the important details too small where they are lost along with your message.

Let’s discuss more ideas in the comments!!

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