Worth A Thousand Words

Worth A Thousand Words

When it comes time for you to hit ‘refresh’ on your brand, or even if you are just starting your service-based business, photos are one of the most important pieces of the project. Just like the visual appearance and user experience of your website, your photos have a lasting effect on the connection you make with visitors and their initial impressions of you. And, this honestly has much less to do with what you look like and more about the energy of the photos and what you’re doing in them.

Before you hire a professional photographer, there are a few helpful things to keep in mind that will ensure a fun and successful day.

Here are our top ten tips for achieving the best photos for your brand:

1| These are not glamour shots.

Sometimes there can be hesitation around having professional photos taken because the focus is on you… and that means you must accept yourself just as you are. Right now. Not after the ten pounds you’re trying to lose. Not after you’ve gained a little more self-confidence. But right now. Just as you imperfectly are.

Remember those Glamour Shots studios that popped up in shopping malls all around the country throughout the 90s? They would dress you up and completely over-do your makeup and then produce these very air-brushed-looking headshots. These are not the types of photos that you want to have for your brand. Yes, makeup and wardrobe choice is very important, but it’s so much more about capturing who you truly are. I even recommend no re-touching on client photos. If you have a good photographer, you shouldn’t need your photos to be processed. Don’t you want to show your clients the real you? This gets into a little bit of self-reflection and self-development work, AND it is so important to get to this point of self-acceptance and love before you dive into getting your photos taken. Of course touch-ups are okay but over processed photos are a big red flag to potential clients and give off an inauthentic vibe.

2| Plan your outfits around your brand

If your brand were a person, how would she dress? Who is your style icon? Embody THOSE feelings and style. Take cues from your style icon and curate several outfits that fit her style and also make you feel really great about yourself. And don’t forget about color. Dress in your brand colors – but also keep in mind which colors you look best in. Your photographer can give you tips on what not to wear… like busy patterns or too many colors. If you need help in this area, check out our fun and insightful Your Brand Style Quiz here.

Confidence is key during your photoshoot. Having your photos taken will likely will feel awkward at first, so if you can wear something that makes you feel like a million bucks when you’re wearing it – that is ideal.

3| Choose a location that makes sense for you and your audience

The point of your photos is to shine a little light on who you truly are and how you want your clients to feel. Sometimes it’s tempting to choose a location that feels luxurious and high-end. Or, beachy and more relaxed. Either of those could be the perfect option for you. The important thing to remember here is that YOU feel totally at home in the space, it exudes your style, and matches the vibe that your clients connect with.

It also is important to consider the work that you do. What settings make the most sense to convey what you are all about – and why you do what you do?

4| Be sure you think outside of yourself

Your photos don’t ALL have to be photos of you. And they honestly shouldn’t be. Think about how you serve people. If you offer consulting or coaching services, it might be great to include some photos of you engaging with a ‘client’. Do you have a team? Perhaps you could capture all of you in a meeting or working/collaborating together. How about you personally – do you have a pet you adore? Include some pics with your pooch 😉 Of course be sure to clear these things with your photographer first.

5| Capture the little things

I always recommend that you make a mental list of items that you use every day in your business, and items that might be important to the work that you do. Crystals, specific books, your computer… even things that are personally meaningful to you are great photos to have on hand for use on social media or your website. The real deal is always better than stock imagery. Which brings me to number six…

6| Think about how you will use these photos

These images will not only be used on your new website and/or sales pages, but they will also be key for social media as well. This is where the images that are not necessarily of you will be helpful. This also may spark ideas on what types of things you should be doing in your photos. Perhaps you’ll want a specific type of photo to promote something that is coming soon, or something similar. Try to think about how you’ll use these photos outside of your website.

7| Choose a photographer who gets your vision

If you’ve never taken professional photos before, it’s safe to say you’ll likely feel a little awkward at first. It’s totally luxurious and fun to be on a photoshoot – and it also can be overwhelming and uncomfortable. You’re being asked to smile, laugh and look natural on-demand, in a staged space. This is where your photographer can really help! You want to make sure that you choose someone who you connect and feel comfortable with. She also should understand what you do and what your intentions for the shoot are. She needs to know what you want to achieve, and you have to feel confident she gets your vision. Pick someone you connect with and adore their work.

8| Enlist your designer

Before you have your photoshoot, be sure to talk with your website designer. He or she may have certain photo ideas they would like to incorporate that you may not have thought of. Your designer should be able to help guide the creative needs of the shoot – but ultimately, you need to trust the expertise of your photographer.

For our branding clients, we provide a very detailed photoshoot direction. We also connect with the photographer on this. Especially if I can’t be onsite for the shoot, I always defer to the expertise and vision of the photographer. They are the professional and artist here. This is their jam. And, there are so many variables. Sometimes a plan won’t work out on the day of the shoot for a variety of reasons. A good photographer will be able to sense the mood of the shoot and being there in the energy could call for a different direction than originally planned. And that is totally OK! This is another reason why you must choose your photographer wisely. There may be game-day decisions that switch things up and you want to be 100% confident in your photographer.

9| Hair and Makeup are not optional

Sometimes these services are included and available through your photographer. Sometimes they are not. Either way, they are non-negotiable. You’re investing time and resources into this shoot and you don’t want to receive your photos back and wish you’d not diy’d your hair. Additionally, having a professional hair and make-up artist will alleviate some of the stress on photoshoot day. This is one area that you should leave to the professionals.

10| Bring a friend

Remember how I mentioned that it can feel unnatural to be center stage in these pics? Having your BFF to there to cheer you on and make you laugh will lighten the energy and lift your spirits. Plus, she can hold your snacks! Photoshoots can be long and sometimes drain your energy, so be sure to bring along some water and easy, non-greasy munchies!

I was blessed to have had an incredible photoshoot experience with the very talented Christa Meola. It’s been just over two years since our shoot and we’ve gotten so much use out of these amazing photographs. I’m ready for another one!! I suggest retaking your photos every couple of years. As you evolve, you will want your photos to reflect that direction as well. So, if you aren’t completely and utterly smitten with the end result of your photos, don’t worry too much. You’re usually your own worst critic, right? No stress. Use what you can, and know that you’ll likely want another shoot a year or two in the future anyway.

As part of our branding engagements, we always offer photo shoot direction and support. We help you choose your photographer, plan your wardrobe and location, and suggest specific shots that will be needed. It’s THAT important. When we have great photos to work with, it not only has a huge impact on the level of design work we can create, it also has a lasting impact on your connections and thus, conversions.

Rachel xo

Authenticity ~ Truly Showing Up

Authenticity ~ Truly Showing Up

We live in a world of digital connection. In 2017, 81% of the entire U.S. population had a social media profile [Statista.com]. On average, 1.37 billion people log onto Facebook daily and are considered daily active users (Source: Facebook as of 11/1/17). Photo uploads total 300 million per day. (Source: Gizmodo) Every 60 seconds on Facebook: 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded. (Source: The Social Skinny) [zephoria.com] Since the release of Instagram stories, it now has 250 million active users per day. [smartinsights.com]

Lives are constantly on display and based on these staggering statistics, it is clear that we humans really are interested in what’s going on in the lives of others. We watch all of these wonderful, exciting, and interesting things through a very filtered lens. And, the pressure to appear just as fun and incredible in the eyes of others is painfully real.

As an entrepreneur and business owner, this can be especially difficult to navigate. What parts of yourself and your life are appropriate and even ‘safe’ to share?

I once attended a conference where the speaker advised that we should project into the world only the image of ourselves that we want others to see. He suggested that we control the public’s view of us – so that they see us in the way we want them to. I don’t believe he necessarily meant hiding who we truly are, rather just editing what we share. The important thing to keep in mind here is the more vulnerable you are willing to be in the eyes of your followers, the more deeply connected to you they will feel. You appear more ‘real’ to them and they can begin to identify with your situations and feelings. And it is the emotional connection that leads to loyalty and action. No one ever accomplished greatness through hiding. Oprah put it beautifully in her recent acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards, “What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

It can be extremely devastating to your audience when you project a certain persona in your messaging, visuals and posts, yet once they are working with you, that vision they had doesn’t exactly match what they are now seeing. Conversely, your amazing message and gift could remain hidden if you don’t have the visual brand and personal connection to support and share it.

Often we start our business as a solo practitioner, coach or consultant. And at that time it’s all about us serving others, doing what we love to do. It’s natural for you to be the ‘face’ of your brand. There comes a point during growth, however, where you no longer are personally delivering the service to your clients. Even if you have stepped out of the day-to-day operations of your business, your presence and essence within the brand is still very prevalent and should remain that way. I’m not suggesting that your business is your personal brand. I just am highlighting the importance of your personal brand within the business brand.

Studies found that 82% of people are more likely to trust a company when their senior executives are active on social media and 77% of consumers are more likely to buy when the CEO of the business uses social media. (Scribd)

At Brand Therapy, we truly believe that YOU are what helps set your business apart from every other. And people want to buy from people. Now more than ever we are craving personal connection in business transactions. Nielson studies found that only 33% of buyers trust messages from a company while almost 90% of customers trust recommendations from someone they know. And, 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over companies. (Neilson)

This can be a difficult realization – especially for us introverts! But having a solid brand that is visually stunning and speaks to who you are and who you serve, what you do and why you do it is one of the best confidence boosters and worry easers available. (Classic ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ 😉 ) And letting your essence shine through in your brand is also one of the fastest ways to connect with and grow your audience… and thus, make the difference you desire.

Rachel xo

Putting Things On Hold

Putting Things On Hold

A dear friend of mine reached out the other day feeling a bit defeated. She’s a mommy who is working really hard to build her small business. She also works a corporate 9-5 job. (Which is part of the motivation for her building that small side-gig. She really wants out of the J-O-B.) The pressures of being a business owner and the to-do list she gave herself were starting to affect the way she was feeling while with her son. She was ready to put the entire business thing on hold.

I could totally relate.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have chosen to react rather than respond in a situation with one of my children because of the pressures I have put on myself as a business owner. It breaks my heart that I did not have more patience with them in that moment – simply because of the stress level I was experiencing inside. In those moments I often found myself saying, “Why am I doing this? What is it all for? It’s not worth it to feel this way!” And then the moment passed and I would return to the normal day-to-day without ever fully listening to that little, oh-so-insightful voice.

Just a few days before my friend and I were talking through this, I had come across a beautiful author’s note in one of my journals. In 52 Lists for Happiness, Moorea Seal writes,

“For most of my life, I have prioritized so many things over the pursuit of my own happiness. Even the most noble and kind-hearted intentions can sometimes drive us away from the things that ground us and let us thrive… But it occurred to me that even when I succeed in the most difficult goals…my own happiness is still not reaching its full potential. I realized that for most of my life, I have pushed happiness to the very bottom of my list of life goals. I have viewed happiness as a possible result of achieving something else, rather than allowing happiness to be the main goal.”

Mind-bender.

She is so right! I do this same thing all the time! And I’m willing to bet that most of you reading this probably feel similarly. Is happiness your ultimate goal? Or do you think happiness will be a possible result of achieving something else? I am not saying we abandon our big goals. In fact, I’ve built this company to be a huge support for those who have a great mission and bigger vision for themselves and the world. But I am inviting you to let happiness play a bigger role.

My friend believes that having her own thriving business and no 9-5 job will bring her happiness in her life. But in this moment, the steps she is taking toward that goal are causing her to feel the furthest emotion from happiness. She can’t easily predict when the success level of her side business will be large enough to walk away from her job. She could be working toward this goal for 10 more years, and in the process miss out on experiencing the joy of her son’s childhood. Will that scenario truly make her happy in the end?

But she is not alone here. I’m doing the same thing with my own business. I’m letting my business goals affect my level of calm and presence when I’m with my children. Can you think about how is this showing up in your life, too?

There is so much power in awareness, though. What a beautiful gift it can be! There is a way to work toward my bigger goals, while maintaining happiness as my day-to-day objective. I think it starts with acknowledgment, being really present and deliberate with your time, but also being open to possibility and not tied to how the goal shows up in your life. Try to end each day full of gratitude. I truly believe that you can have anything you want in this life. Now, I believe that happiness should be a non-negotiable on that list!

I invite you to take a look at your current goals for your brand. Taking the steps each day toward those goals may not always be fun, but it sure doesn’t need to make you feel unhappy. Do you think you could try to make happiness your goal each day? Even if what you have to do is less than desirable, find a way to create joy. Your future self will thank you (and so will your family!) 🙂

Wishing all you moms a Mother’s Day full of happiness!

Love,

Rachel

 

I Didn’t Want A Puppy

I Didn’t Want A Puppy

I didn’t want a puppy.

Don’t get me wrong… I think they are adorable. But to me, getting a puppy is right up there with having a baby… and we’ve already got four of those! I believe that dogs are family members. They need and deserve attention and love. True, you don’t need someone to watch them every time you leave their side, but the responsibility for them is just about as great as that for a child.

I grew up with pets – a dog and a cat… and a couple of birds that mysteriously disappeared long before the cat did. 🙂  And though I love other people’s dogs, in my mind, I’m not necessarily pet-owner material.

This month, our family brought home a beautiful little weimaraner pup, Basil. She is precious and fiesty. And of course the novelty has already worn off with the kiddos. It’s been a trying two weeks for me, adjusting to caring for another being, and getting up all hours of the evening after 10 years of sleepless nights had just come to an end, but even moreso allowing something that I really did not want into my life — in a big way.

I’ve been trying to work through the reason why this has had such a massive effect on me emotionally. (Afterall, my husband has taken on the majority of the training.) I agreed to getting the dog. Although I didn’t want a puppy, if there ever were a child who needed a dog it’s my Lola. Sparing too much detail, I’ll just say that Mike and I knew that it was time for Lola to welcome a four-legged friend into her heart and our home. I said yes out of pure love for our daughter, and wanting the best for her.

With a more level-head than the first few days, I’ve realized something profound. I have worked my entire married life to make our home a true reflection of me (and Mike, too 🙂 ) I love to fill my physical spaces with beauty and surround myself with objects that I love. Being in this space feeds my soul. It sparks my creativity. It makes me happy. But being in this space that I love, with the people I love takes the experience to a new level. Allowing this puppy into my life and my space does not need to define me. And it doesn’t need to make me unhappy. I can choose happiness. All of the things I love are STILL HERE in this space. This is just a new layer, and I can choose to look at it as beauty.  Isn’t an act of love one of the highest forms of beauty anyway?

We are all faced with different things we may not necessarily find beautiful in our lives. But I encourage you to seek out the beauty within it. Choose to be happy not in spite of, but alongside whatever you’re living with that may not feed your soul at the moment. Choose love, and happiness will naturally follow.

I’m sure that Basil will grow to have a huge place in my heart. And I’ll look back and laugh at all the crying I did over her. But today, I hope that sharing my experience of her arrival proves to be a lovely reminder that true beauty often lies in the simple shift of perspective.

Rachel

xo