The IPPA Blog | The Blog of The Irish Professional Photographers Association

CAT | Marketing

Canon’s various logo guise through the ages but regardless of the subtle logo changes, it’s brand has always stood for quality and rugged cameras.

Many photographers need to proactively build and manage their brands.

Unfortunately, most do not understand what a brand is.

A brand is not a logo. It is not a web site or a colour or a font. A brand is not a business card and it is not an ad you run in a magazine. In fact, a brand is not most of the things you might think it is.

And don’t think paying a designer lots of money will get you a brand. It won’t. All you will get is a design, which is not a brand. And beware, most designers don’t understand how to build a brand. You may not even need any design or advertising to have a strong brand.

Unfortunately, in this crazy, competitive and noisy world, you do need a brand more than ever. A strong brand, managed well, will help to correctly position you in people’s minds. It will also help differentiate you from other photographers. Above all, it will help give people a reason to buy you or whatever you are selling.

You need a brand, just as much as BMW, Hasselblad or Apple need a brand.

So what is a brand? A brand is a promise. Thats it. It’s a promise.

When you are thinking of buying anything, a car, a camera, an egg; a whole lot of things will process in your mind. Some of this stuff will be logical, tangible and functional thoughts. Some of it will be irrational, intangible and emotional etc. All the things which people will think about, and feel and believe in, these will be the building blocks of your brand. Your job in building your brand is to try and manage these thoughts and beliefs.

People who know of you will have beliefs and opinions of you whether you like it or not. Your job is to manage and influence those beliefs and thoughts before they take firm hold. To get ahead of those perceptions and to put your vision and values into peoples minds first.

Think about a brand which you value and to which you are loyal. That value and loyalty is based around your belief in what that brand will promise to deliver to you. And heaven for bid any brand which breaks its promise.

Anyway this is just food for thought.


**As a follow on, here is something I found by Guy Kawasaki. You could benchmark your brand against this maybe:

“The Art of Branding”

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Aaron Lindberg is a photographer and blogger based in Kansas City, Missouri. As well as shooting and blogging, he often writes articles for ‘“, which is a terrifically entertaining and highly informative (usually) video blog run by Lee Morris in the USA.

One of Lindbergs more entertaining and topical articles/posts appeared on Fstoppers yesterday titled “Photography is dead”. In it he talks about “shooting for free” and “low hanging fruit” – in my opinion, the entire article is well worth a read. It might change the perspective of many photographers out there.

Here is a link to the full article for you.


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Facebook have completely changed the rules around Facebook competitions in the past couple of weeks. I have seen so many photographers pages continue to flout the rules and put themselves in danger of being unceremoniously shut down.

The great news is that Facebook have completely changed their promotion and competition guidelines, and the new rules have huge implications. The biggest being that pages can now continue doing what they’ve been doing, but it is now actually allowed. Well, most of it.  I’ve outlined the changes below, as well as the pros and cons of running a competition straight from your wall vs via an application.

The biggest and most important change is that you can now run competitions/promotions straight from your Timeline. Previously pages were only able to run competitions through applications, not directly on their page timeline (though many didn’t actually know this was the case). This has now changed, and along with it Facebook are allowing entries via Comments and Likes.

So what does all that mean?

You are now officially allowed to publish a post to your Page that says “Want to win €1000? Like this to enter.” Or post a photo and say ‘Caption this pic for your chance to win”. What has changed you may be thinking? It’s likely you saw loads of competitions similar to this in the past anyway.  And it’s highly likely that’s why Facebook changed the rules – pages simply weren’t adhering to their previous guidelines anyway. That being said, some pages continue to break the rules by posting competitions that require people to share things to their wall to enter the competition. To break it down for you, here’s an overview of what you now can and can’t do with Facebook competitions:

What you can do:

  • Run competitions through your Page wall/timeline (through a post) and/or via an application
  • Allow people to enter your competition via commenting or liking your post
  • Allow people to enter your competition via direct message to the Page
  • Allow people to enter your competition by posting on your wall
  • Use ‘likes’ as a voting mechanism – ie. people can vote for their favourite entry by simply liking it

What you still cannot do:

  • Administer a competition on a personal timeline, it must be done on a business page
  • Require or encourage people to tag themselves in content they are not depicted in
  • Require or encourage people to post or share anything to their personal timeline

These new rules mean that it is so much easier, particularly for small businesses with small social budgets, to run competitions through their Pages quickly and cheaply. But in some cases, it may still be preferable to use an application. Here’s a run-down of the pros to each method:

Why use an app to run your Facebook contest?

  • It allows a more personalized and branded experience
  • There is more flexibility in terms of content you can provide and interactivity
  • You can collect more data from entrants – eg. their email addresses, business names etc.
  • You can require the opting into a newsletter to expand your database
  • You can like-gate the competition – ie. Entrants must like your page to enter (thus better opportunity to grow your community)
  • You can easily keep all entries in one place for your community to share, like and vote on (ie. Gallery)
  • You can prompt entrants to share their entry with friends after they have entered, increasing viral exposure (and you have control over the message that is being shared)
  • Easier to collate all entries and entrants’ details in one place for judging*


Why use your business page to run your Facebook contest?

  • Faster and easier
  • Cheaper to run – no requirement to pay for third-party apps or pay a developer
  • Easier for entrants to enter, thus likely to gain more entries
  • Potential for greater viral exposure via post showing up in entrants’ newsfeeds who have liked/commented
  • No mobile compatibility issues

Of course, if you want to get the best of both worlds you can always use both an application and your wall to run your competition. If you want to check out Facebook’s new promotion guidelines in more detail, you can do so here.

Hope this helps!



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Food (actually coffee!) for thought.

What do you think coffee is worth?


I decided to conduct an experiment for the sake of making a comparison to photography branding and this blog. On Monday, after I dropped my two kids to school and with some money in my pocket, I headed to the city centre to run some errands.


Photography Branding

I decided I needed a coffee and I proceeded to park my car in the metered spot outside the door of the Starbucks on Mespil Road. I paid fifty cents for parking and I walked into the Starbucks, waited in line for about 10 minutes while I listened to “pick of the week” music playing out of the overhead speakers. The cashier took my order, and I paid €2.40 for a Grande coffee, plus a €0.60 tip.

Then, I walked over to the pick-up counter and waited another five minutes while the barista wrapped up the drinks he was making for the customers ahead of me. He handed my tall coffee to me, and apologized for the wait.

Total cost for a tall coffee at Starbucks: €3.00 (plus parking@ 50 cents!)

Total time at Starbucks, including parking: 20 minutes



Then, on my way out of town, I went ‘Drive Thru’ at my local McDonald’s in Nutgrove. There was one vehicle ahead of me, so within a mere 60 seconds of waiting, I was at the call box talking to the order-taker. She couldn’t hear me, so I had to place my order three times. Finally, the sound worked, and she captured my request for a medium coffee.

I drove around the corner of the building and paid under €2 for my coffee. At the next window, I picked up my medium coffee (it should be noted that a large is also the same price as a small and medium coffee at McDonald’s).

I spent about 3 minutes in the entire McDonald’s drive-thru and then headed home.

Total cost for my medium McDonald’s coffee: under €2

Total time at McDonald’s drive-thru: 3 minutes



On my drive home, I reflected on my experience. I waited significantly longer at Starbucks and had to hassle with parking my car. The people in Starbucks were nicer, the ambience was pleasant in the store, and the white paper cup the barista handed me felt good in my hand. By paying almost twice as much for a smaller cup of coffee, it got me an experience that “felt” better to all senses despite the hassle of parking the car and waiting longer. The wait was made pleasant via the music and kind employees.

My experience at my McDonald’s wasn’t horrific, but it wasn’t good either. By paying about half as much for a few more ounces in my cup, it came at the expense of not-so-nice employees, the smell of the car exhaust from the vehicle ahead of me, a cup that felt shiny, and just a general bad feeling (McDonald’s is just not a food establishment that “feels” good to me).



Why I bought two cups of coffee, really

I’ve been doing some research about pricing and branding strategies for my other business , recently. At a higher level, I’m interested in working with and helping photographers “take back” the photography industry. I wanted to have something to reflect on as a litmus test for some of my thinking.

Because customers expect stuff from “cheaper”. They associate an experience worth tolerating in exchange for “cheap”.

On the flip side, customers tend to feel good about an experience that is “worth more”. By paying more, they are sitting back and enjoying the tiny elements of delight the company or business owner took the time to architect.



How this relates to photography branding

My exercise resulted in a microcosm of proof that photography branding and evaluating the value of your photography can be done in the same way as the value of a commodity like coffee. Cheap can work fine for you, if your customer is expecting a “cheap-like” experience. And being worth more can work fine for you, if you are interested in crafting a delightful experience for your customers who are patient and willing to spend more time with you, because they value you more.

There is no definitively right answer, only a more right answer for you.

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  1. The most important order you ever get from any customer is the second order.
  2. Understanding and adapting to consumer motivation is not an option. It is an absolute necessity for competitive survival.
  3. Know the power of repetition. Your message must be consistent.
  4. The two most common mistakes companies make when using the phone is failing to track results and tracking the wrong thing.
  5. Marketing activities should be designed to increase profits, not just sales.
  6. It costs five times as much to sell a new customer as an existing customer. Get out that customer list!
  7. Selling what your customers need, instead of what you think they want, will lead to failure.
  8. Don’t think that product superiority, technology, innovation or company size will sell itself.
  9. Don’t neglect or ignore your current customers while pursuing new ones.
  10. People don’t buy products, they buy the benefits and solutions they believe the products provide.
  11. The average business never hears from 96% of its dissatisfied customers.
  12. 50% of those customers who complain would do business with the company again if their complaints were handledsatisfactorily.
  13. It is estimated that customers are twice as likely to talk about their bad experiences as their good ones.
  14. Exaggerated claims produce inflated expectations that the product or service cannot live up to, thereby resulting in dissatisfiedcustomers.
  15. Get to know your prime customers—the 20% of product/service users who account for 80% of the total consumption of that product class.

Hope it helps.

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