Yesterday I wrote about the challenge of balancing a unique, signature style as a visual artist with authentically communicating the brand of your client. B2C studios (e.g. wedding filmmakers/photographers, etc.) will tend to benefit greatly from putting their style first. B2B studios (e.g. commercial photogs and video producers) have a more complicated task at hand. Staying true to your style may be great for you, but it might not be all that great for your client if their brand is not compatible. But, in a competitive world where standing out is vital for the survival of your business, how can you establish a unique look that will help you stand out if every project you create looks and feels different? Good question. Well, my first response to that question is, “Who said your work is the only thing that should stand out about your studio?”
Create a Signature Brand
As I mentioned yesterday, for those of you doing B2B work, the quality and style of your artistry will absolutely have an impact on who hires you. That goes without saying. And in truth, it may be because of your signature style that a client hires you. Whether it’s because your style is compatible with their brand and they want you to help them communicate their message; or because your style clearly demonstrates a sense of experience and ability that instills confidence in the client that you can do something as amazing. But, in the end, a savvy client will still want you to communicate their brand, not yours.
So, in order to stand out as a studio, focus on creating a signature brand for your studio, so that your brand is what primarily makes you stand out. That brand is all-encompassing. It’s not just your work. It’s the whole experience of working with your studio. Your website. Your colors and logo. The way you answer the phone. How you pitch your proposals (I always send a nice written formal proposal on company letterhead). How you dress. How you collaborate with the client. Your customer service. All of these things (and more) contribute to your studio standing out. Prospects will see it when they interact with you and your site.
Conceive. Collaborate. Execute. Repeat
The next aspect of your studio that will have a tremendous impact on your ability to stand out is ideas and execution. Does the work you do for your clients show a variety of ideas? Will the client be confident that you can conceive of something unique and great for them?
Are you collaborating with a team of people who can elevate your work. Do you surround yourself with people who can pick up the slack where you are weak. Collaboration also refers to how well you work with the client.
Are you and your team able to execute well on your ideas. It’s one thing to have a grandiose plan for a glorious shoot. It’s another thing to actually make it happen.
Last, do you have systems in place so that you can repeat what you’ve done. Do you have the same core group of artists you can turn to for the next gig, or do you have to recruit new people every time?
I was listening to a great conversation (iTunes link) between renown commercial photographers/filmmakers Chase Jarvis and Vincent Laforet and Chase commented that during a meeting with one of his clients, the issue of budget came up, and the creative director turned to Chase to tell him, “Don’t worry Chase. We’ll come up with the money because we know you’ll make the ideas happen.” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
Focus on Compatible Gigs
If you really would prefer to stick to your style of artistry, then purposefully go after jobs with brands compatible with your artistic sensibilities. I do commercial works for all kinds of companies, but the focus I market to are NGOs, non-profits, worthy causes, personal profile films for artists and high profile individuals, or traditional companies looking to create inspirational films (e.g. employee motivational films, charitable films, etc.) That kind of work plays right into my sweet and sensitive side. 😉 But seriously, it’s the kind of work that gives me the most fulfillment and is best suited to my strengths as a storyteller. Find and know your strengths, then market your business accordingly. There are enough companies out there looking for your style, you just have to do the extra work to find them.
I actually love the fact that commercial work gives me the opportunity to work on my different types of projects. It keeps the job fun and interesting for me. Every gig is different. And I welcome the challenges to push myself to limits I’ve never reached before.