What even IS branding??!

It seems that everyone is creating a website for themselves these days, which is a great idea for marketing yourself. With sites like Wix and Squarespace, it has never been easier to do so (this site is a squarespace - I LOVE squarespace). But creating a website about yourself is one of the most terrifying and time consuming tasks I’ve ever taken on, mostly because its a living thing that is constantly growing, changing, evolving, and the process never ends. Despite the overwhelming-ness of this task, it is one of the most rewarding and inspiring things to do for yourself. Nothing motivates you to create more than a beautiful empty website!

It can also seem like a pointless idea because “aren’t there a million other people with websites just like mine that do the same thing?” Sure, the internet is extremely saturated with personal websites for people just like you, maybe often times better than you, but at least 90% of them fall short in one VERY IMPORTANT yet often overlooked category: Branding.

But, like, what even IS branding??!

Branding is one of those words that sounds scary and daunting and cryptic, but is in fact quite simple. It is just a fancy word that essentially means “personality.” The confusing part is when you try to convey your personality through color palettes and logos and profile pictures and quippy millennial hobbies (like drinking coffee, walking your cat, or overusing oxford commas). Now, if you already have a personality, branding is much easier than if you have to create a personality on the fly. People (potential customers) can see through a fake personality with ease, which is why it helps to work on yourself before trying to create your online presence. Make sure you have a solid list of values, some funny relatable quirks, and a few hobbies before trying to create a brand. Once you have those things down, creating your brand will just fall into place (with a lot of hard work of course).

The simplest way I like to think about branding is a job interview analogy. Everyone is nice and tries their hardest to put their best foot forward, but why do some people get the job and others don’t? Sure, it depends on qualifications (sometimes), but even more importantly is their personality. But if everyone is acting the same, how can job interviewers tell who to hire? It’s simple. They can tell who is being themselves and who is just trying to be who they think they should be.

Maybe that analogy wasn’t perfect (or even good), but they point is to incorporate who you and what makes you unique into your brand. Your brand has to be consistent; from the way you look in pictures, to the way you write, to the way you interact with people in person, to the way your color palette makes people feel. The best way to do that is for your brand to encompass who you really are.

With “consistency” being the key word, it is also important to have consistency in photographs across your website. When picking a photographer, make sure they get to know you beforehand. It is best if you meet up in person so they can get a feel for who you are and what the photographs will be used for. Tell them all the awesome things that you’re doing, but also tell them about all the weird things you do that make you YOU. Do you wake up and make Chemex coffee before throwing on your bunny ear pajamas and walking your cat? Those may seem like embarrassing things, but they just make you unique. People love unique!

Also, make sure you get enough variety so that it doesn’t look like your using the same picture for everything on your website. Bring a few different outfits and really explore the area you choose to shoot in. The pictures below are of a good friend of mine who is just starting out his online presence. I absolutely loved capturing his personality while providing him with enough variety to populate a website. He was recently selected as a featured artist for SYOS (https://www.syos.co/en) or Shape Your Own Sound saxophone moutpieces. Visit his newly launched website here www.mattlockermusic.com