First, I have found that there has been a little bit of confusion surrounding “branding sessions” and what exactly they are. So before I dive into how amazing this entrepreneur is, I want to clarify a few things about the process:
- A branding session is NOT headshots. It takes headshots and pushes it even further. While headshots can be part of a branding session, they are not the focal point by any means!
- The purpose of a branding session is to tell the story of your business, your brand, your client experience, anything you want to communicate to clients and potential client. Think of it almost as a documentary in still image form.
- It is goal-driven. I will never NOT ask an entrepreneur what his/her business goals are for the next six months to a year of the business prior to completing their session because I have to know that in order to give you images that will support the upcoming content needs.
Now that we have clarified the reasons to have a branding session, let’s dive into this particular one for Pilates Barre Lex, a boutique, client-centered Pilates studio in Lexington, KY. Hannah Merideth, the owner, is in the new start-up phase of her business, but marketing is one of her strengths so she has kicked behind as her doors have opened to the public!
Let me tell you a little bit about her business.
Her main goals when she started the studio were/are:
– Welcoming everyone to create a tight-knit community.
– Creating a calm environment that promotes physical and mental wellness.
– Crafting a client-centered experience so they know they are her first priority.
Her main business goals for the first six months to year in business were to:
– MARKET, MARKET, MARKET to establish a consistent client base (including social media, website, and email marketing)
– Showcase the community-centered vibe of the studio
– Create a consistent, professional online presence from day one
When my clients are able to answer questions like this, it shows me they have direction. And I use that direction to guide my shot list for the session.
Let me give you an example: Hannah consistently mentioned “community” whenever we spoke about her session. Well, community is sort of an abstract concept to photograph. But I knew we were going to have to recruit some “models” to participate in our session, so that we could accurately portray the feeling of community. The marketing genius that Hannah is, she used it as an opportunity to engage new clients. When I showed up to her session, she had recruited 12 models to participate in our session, some of which had never even taken a Pilates class before! This is incredible for a couple reasons:
– She already was showing her ability to build community throughout the Lexington area.
– She was demonstrating that everyone is welcome in her studio, regardless of ability level!
One of her goals was to create a consistent, professional online presence across all platforms. Hannah is one of the few clients that I have not only done branding images for, but also designed her website! You can find the completed Pilates Barre Lex website here! This was a perfect and natural add-on to work together in both capacities because I had such a deep understanding of her business, brand, personality, and goals.
Let’s take a look at how we created that consistent, professional online presence she wanted:
She created her own logo, color palette, and typography. The color palette was the main piece I used in the planning of the session. You’ll notice that all of the models have on similar colors–that did not happen by accident! It is one of those small details that makes a huge difference in consistency.
Also, as you read through some of the screenshots from the PBL website, note the copy we used: “Welcome to Pilates Barre Lex!” “Come join us!” “Let’s sweat together!” All of these phrases promote the community feel that Hannah wants!
Now, let’s see what it looks like when branding images are used consistently for marketing purposes, specifically on social media! Hannah is an expert at using her images, made obvious by this screenshot of her Instagram account:
Hannah actually had a mini-branding session prior to the full session because she is a go-getter and couldn’t wait to start establishing her online presence! So we shot a few images before she had the reformers in/studio design complete.
But together, we took her goals and used them as a guide when planning her branding session, creating images that will support her in achieving those goals throughout the next six months to a year.
Enjoy a few additional shots from her session that shows the variety we were able to capture due to the clear direction we harnessed!