I haven’t made a post in the structure category of this blog for quite awhile. It is the category where I like to share any kind of business knowledge that I have picked up along they way. I try to look past all those mistakes that I cry about daily and help you to at least make the correct ones from the start. Like they say in Jackass, “If your gonna be dumb you gotta be tough.” Today we are going to discuss your look. No, I am not talking about that medusa bed-head hairstyle that you are trying to get rid of after waking–for as short as my hair is it looks like a porcupine on LSD most mornings. I am not even talking about your image style and vision as a photographer. This about business right? And in business what is the first thing that you do when you meet a potential client? I am talking about meeting someone on the street, in a park, in a restaurant, where ever. Reality, in-person, not that cyberspace bullshit you spew on Twitter and Facebook, people. Business.
You hand them your business card. Well again in a perfect timeline this isn’t the first thing. There are hand shakes, I am so and so, etc., etc. The business card handout is the first time in a new business relationship where your potential client gets to see who you are (in China this is a serious deal, not taken lightly). And it is in this first swap of info, that you want to make a better and not a worse impression. Before you can even get to actually owning a business card, you need to create a logo, it could be nothing more than your name in your favorite font, but it needs to be thought out. You don’t want to just plaster stuff in a rectangle. You want to design your look. You don’t wear those pajamas to work do you? Well, most of you probably don’t. You design your photos don’t you? Sit down and put some thought into your logo. This is truly not a simple task. I know personally. I have redesigned my logo so many times, my wife thinks I am crazy, but the latest incarnation is going to stick for a long time.
Last spring I sat down and began outlining where I wanted to take my brand. Hopefully this doesn’t open a whole new can of worms, because I don’t want this post to become a book. Yet. Your brand is different than your logo. Your logo is part of your brand, but your brand encompasses everything. Got it? Think Coke and Pepsi. Those are brands of sodas. Now substitute the word photographer for soda and your business name for Coke or Pepsi. And we are walking…My look or logo needed revamping in my own mind to better symbolize where I was headed with my work. To do that across the Jay Goodrich brand, I needed to re-design everything. My letterhead, my business card, envelopes, portfolios, post cards, promo pieces, newsletters, websites, blogs, t-shirts, hats, even my photography. My style is modern. I live clean, ride clean, ski clean, and now design and photograph clean. I want that to be portrayed to even the slacker that I meet at the park, who introduces himself when all I want to do is sip on my fine glass of tequila, while my kids make each other cry. You never know who will be friends with who though–six degrees of separation does exist. This transformation took me almost a year.
Like I said, your look will travel a long way throughout your brand, thus it needs to be consistent thought out. I have the luxury of owning a degree in architecture which gives me knowledge in design. If you don’t think you can design your logo graphically definitely hire a designer. There are many options available to you for producing a logo and a graphic designer knows how to utilize them all. There is the paper, the ink, the color, the layout, the printing, the size, etc., it can quickly become overwhelming. You will lose less sleep and the design will have more impact when you hand over your card, if a designer helps you create it.
When I went for the redesign of my current logo I created it with reason. The four circled “j’s” represent adventure, nature, architecture and writing, the four focuses of my current business. I interlocked and rotated them because there was a fifth and additional important focus coming–film. I picked Helvetica Neue for the font and chose to letter press the word “photographer” and the logo. Letterpress is a technique that inks the paper while pressing an indentation it. Very similar to an old school typewriter. I chose two colors, more and you are asking for your design to look like shit. I used a silver ink because it is a little shiny and I like its tonality and a green that represents my love for nature and because it is my favorite color. I wanted my logo front and center without distraction so I decided to create a double-sided card. All of the contact info then resides on the back. My card is also half as wide as a standard business card. For two reasons I think it is cool and it saves paper. Why kill trees if you don’t have too? Also, the paper is 100% recycled, again, yeah for the environment. The rectangle around the word “photographer” has meaning also. I added it as a highlight to what I do and to add the thought of composition to who I am.
There you have it, one thousand words on why my business card is the way it is. Reasons for each piece of the puzzle. Now you have just a little taste of why it took a year to complete each aspect of upgrading my business. There are companies out there who can help you get a look that represents who you are. Lost Luggage in Seattle does amazing work for a ton of different photographers for really reasonable prices. In addition I use Gran Farnum Printing in Glenwood Springs, Colorado-ask for Stacey and tell her I sent you. They produce a high-end product a very reasonable cost and have a designer on staff. And if you need more advice just ask, I am more than happy helping you tame that medusa rat’s nest that is spiraling out of control on your head.