If you own a business, especially one online, you’ve more than likely heard someone say “personal branding” at some point in time. You may or may not know what the term means. Let us explain. It’s simple:
When people refer to personal branding, they’re referring to branding (read: marketing) themselves. So your personal brand is marketing your business, you, your product, you name it. Your personal brand is what people know you by. Just think of any famous name brand in grocery store, whether toothpaste, shampoo, soda—it’s likely you have a favorite brand and reach for it above all others. There could be an equally appealing product nearby, but you reach for what you know works best for you. Why? Because that brand has succeeded in its marketing. You associate the brand with something positive and continue to consistently buy into it.
You have to deliberately manage your personal brand. It makes sense—if you have a certain image you want people to see, you have to work to cultivate it. There’s a reason major brands come down swiftly on any competitors who do anything that might damage a company’s image. Image is everything in business, and image = personal branding.
So figure out who you and your company are, what you stand for, and what you want people to know you by.
After you’ve got that figured out, then you have to determine how to get that message across. And one of the best ways to do that is through a photo shoot. You’ve heard it all before—first impressions are lasting impressions. It’s true. You’ve only got a moment to grab a person’s attention with your brand. Once you’ve got that attention, you have about a second for the person’s first impression to register, whether positive or negative. Positive impressions stick forever. So do negative ones. So make those first seconds count! Here’s how.
When you decide to do a personal brand photo shoot, it should be made up of the following:
A funnel image is exactly what it sounds like—it’s an image that draws people in. It points them in the direction you want them to be looking. So funnel images are what you want to use on your landing page, especially when you’re launching a product, setting up a new business, etc. For example, a picture of yourself staring directly at the product you’re selling is a clear funnel. It’s guiding a potential client’s eye.
Use funnels on social media. Very definitely use them on sales pages, too. Those images need to be polished, professional, and engaging—which is why you need to hire someone trained to take them, rather than snapping a few pictures with your phone. You can use funnels anywhere you want to continue stamping your personal brand, whether it’s on a blog, on someone else’s website where you’ve been invited to write a guest post, etc.
The need for a great headshot is probably fairly obvious, but let’s reiterate it anyway: people want to know who they’re doing business with. Your personal image is connected to your personal brand. So the two need to relate to one another, rather than being contradicting. For instance, if your brand is laidback and low-key, and your headshot is you in a three-piece suit, that’s going to confuse customers. You want things to be seamless in all aspects of your personal branding.
Make sure, when you make an appointment to do your Chicago headshots photo shoot, that you ask for a few headshots. Take at least a couple headshots, for different occasions. While your personal brand might be mellow, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a dressy headshot for certain occasions, so long as your personal brand is still reflected in the shot.
Clearly, you need a goal in order to succeed in business. And knowing that goal will allow you to work with your photographer. Tell him/her what your goal is. What message do you want potential customers to walk away with after seeing your brand? Your photographer’s job is to help you deliver that message.
Part of your goal with a photo shoot should be to convey your values. Customers resonate to a personal brand that has clearly designed and conveyed values. Make sure your photographer is informed about those, so he/she can help you get them across.
Essentially, a photographer will work backwards. He/she will start with your goals and build the photo shoot around that purpose. Remember that you’ve only got a few seconds to make that first impression, so this photo shoot is all about making those moments count.
Use the images from your Chicago professional headshots photo shoot on social media, your business website, any blogs, and any niches that you know possible clients will see those pictures. The more people see you, the more they will begin to feel they trust you, so long as your personal brand consistently lines up with the image you’ve conveying and the needs of your desired audience.
Brands Aren’t Stagnant
Your business is going to grow and change. As such, your brand should develop alongside it. That doesn’t mean you should ever completely throw out what you started with, since that will bewilder customers, but brands are anything but fixed. You consistently grow as a person throughout life. So should your brand.
Let’s be clear up a misconception here: brands aren’t just for people already well established. Far from it. They begin when a business starts out and follow it through, building clientele along the way.
No question about it—you need to invest in your brand. That includes paying for a professional headshot session in Chicago so you get the absolute best possible photographs. And you’ll occasionally need to do another similar session, as your business evolves. You want to keep things fresh. Always look to the future—toward where you want to get.
We’ll say it again because it bears repeating: professional photos that reflect your personal brand, which convey who you are, what you represent, and what you do are key. So make the most of that session with a trained professional. Use his/her expertise to ensure you look photogenic, approachable, trustworthy, etc. Everyone will be looking at those pictures, whether it’s influencers who can then help promote your brand, bloggers, possible business partners, etc.
Undoubtedly, on a daily basis you have a certain routine. Certain tasks that you can’t skip without paying a price. Make personal branding part of that routine, even if it’s not necessarily daily. Carve out consistent time to focus on it, including that first photo shoot and follow-ups down the road.
You want to reach a lot of people, right? You have something wonderful to offer. That’s why you’re in business. So the more eyes land on your personal brand, the more people you can help. Conversely, if nobody sees your pictures (possibly because you haven’t taken them), your personal brand will never establish itself and that’s a massive opportunity lost to make a difference in people’s lives.
Take the time to get it right. Sit down early on and figure out who and what you and your business are. Contact someone to take your professional headshots in Chicago. Discuss the plan with the photographer. Clue him/her into where you are and where you want to go. Ensure that your photo shoot reflects and establishes your goals. The bottom line is that if you take personal branding seriously, you will see serious results in return.
I’m a Chicago-based professional headshot photographer with years of photography experience. Please review my Chicago Headshots Photography section for information and samples of my work, and book your headshot session today.