Three Fifteen Design » Portland Design Studio

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When my heart imagines the creative that meshes perfectly with my style, Monica is the first person who pops into my head. When Monica first approached me, she was growing her business and ready for a brand identity that represented her beautiful style. Working with her is easy … it’s like a breath of fresh air. She creates a warm, inviting environment for her clients, which allows them to open their hearts. Her images are a direct reflection her amazing artistic vision.

Working together, we created a custom script logo for her, and paired it with classic, light typefaces that would be used to tell her brand’s story. Her client experience is rounded out with letterpress stationery … Sending handwritten notes are like the icing on the cupcake. I thought I’d drop in to share my favorite pieces of her project. I hope you love her work as much as I do. Visit her new Showit website here!

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All stationery photographs by Three Fifteen Design

All portrait & wedding photography by Monica Mae Photography

… but I can help you hone in on your target market, develop a brand strategy to attract your perfect client, and create an identity convey your brand’s message.

Most inquiries that come across my (virtual) desk say something like this, “I need a better brand! I basically don’t have one!!” — And, I usually respond with the same idea:

You do have a brand. YOU are your brand. You have a client experience, and it’s either top notch, or needs some major work. There’s not much gray area when it comes to creating advocates out of your clients.

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In 2015, my client experience has gone through a bit of an evolution. You see, I am determined to ensure my clients understand the difference between a brand and a brand identity. To understand the difference between a business that never gets momentum and a business that shines!

I can’t make your brand … that’s your job! What are you doing to stand out from your peers? What are you doing to create advocates out of your clients? Does your current site convey your brand’s message, or is it like the other sites in your industry? How are you using feedback to tailor your client experience to your ideal clients? And, most importantly, how are you making sure you are feeling inspired and driven?

Once you take a look at these aspects of your brand, it’s easy to see where you can put in a little more work, and where you’re shining. I’d love to hear how you’ve taken charge of your client experience, and what kind of brand you have!!

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Within a few seconds, anyone landing on your site will know whether they want to stick around. Within a few seconds of that realization, they’ll know if they want to spend their money on your products or services. When diving into the website content piece with my clients, I’ve found myself getting more and more picky about the work they are showing.

Open your website/blog right now. What does the first image say to a potential client?

I want to use one of my recent clients as an example. Ryan and Jill of With Love & Embers specialize in photographs that are overwhelmingly emotional (in the best way possible), while giving each photo a true sense of place. It’s like you can just feel everything about that moment. When choosing photos to showcase on their site, they completely nailed it. Every ounce of every photograph is speaking to their client experience.

I’ve had clients who describe their work as moody, emotional, and personal … But, when clicking on their site, the first image is of a colorful wedding bouquet, a bright photo with laughter, or a flower girl dancing during a reception. While those photographs might be beautiful, they don’t speak to their brand keywords, at all. And, when your goal is (or should be) to attract your ideal clients, how can you expect to do so when you’re showing work that doesn’t speak to your brand experience?

For me, I had to totally change the way I was presenting my projects. I used to break down each project into posts for the design board, the logos, the stationery, the website, etc. But, I realized I was getting tons of inquiries for individual pieces. Why weren’t people wanting to book me for a complete brand identity project? It’s because I wasn’t showing them complete projects. Now days, I show final suites, and present the visual pieces of their complete client experience. I tell you this to show you that I recognized this with my own business, and it goes beyond photographers. We all have to curate our sites to maximize effectiveness.

Want to be sure your images are capturing your perfect client?

  • Revise your galleries & photos — If it’s been more than 6 months since you’ve updated the galleries on your site, it’s been too long.
  • When revising, start with a list of descriptors. — Be picky! Pick 5 words that describe your brand experience or your work. If a photo doesn’t match, don’t show it.
  • If you don’t want to do it, don’t show it! — If you’re a “wedding photographer that occasionally photographs families, but really only wants to photograph weddings”, take the family gallery off of your site!
  • Use social media to microblog — Facebook and Instagram are perfect places to highlight your favorite 1 or 2 photos from a session. The description is a place to tell your audience why that photo fits with your brand. I love how Rosey Red Photography does this.
  • Pare it down — Yeah, less is more. 10 amazing images that subscribe to your brand’s message are stronger than 50 mediocre images.

Just starting with these simple steps can help you get closer to always booking/selling to your ideal market. Have you done this? Tell me how your business benefited in the comment section below. And, if you’re like me, and have a hard time narrowing down your favorite work, tell me what the hardest part is for you.

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Hey you! Yes, you!! The mama or papa over there who is balancing home life with work life, and trying to make it all look graceful. You’re doing amazing, and how did you manage to shower today? Over here, life is busy. It’s a bit insane if I’m being honest. Thankfully, the insanity is balanced by such joy.

Looking at 2014, I can say that it was a year of survival. It was my first year as a mother, and I really had to focus on evolving into a working mama. Funny enough, I think it was my most creative year yet. (I mean, hellloooo, I made a person.) Seriously though, I grew as a designer. I learned a ton about balance, and how to only work with people who inspire me.

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After the baby fog cleared, I started connecting with other parents who are creatives. Many of my clients are parents, and I found myself being able to connect with them on a deeper level. What could be more magical than finding another level to connect with my clients on? It’s such a gift.

I want to start a conversation here about being a creative mom or dad. Are you a blogger? Photographer? Graphic Designer? Chef? I think I had this idea that truly creative people didn’t have time for babies. Au contraire!! I’m finding that some of the raddest people I know have little ones, and they are being badass parents and badass creatives! From this, The Creative Procreator was born. Coming up, I’ll be sharing insight from some of my favorite creative parents. People who have started their own businesses, had some kiddos, and have lived to tell their tale. We’ll talk about home/life balance, how to handle inspiration when you can’t jump right into your ideas, being a working parent, how things have changed since the little ones arrived, and the joy of being self-employed with the flexibility to raise a family.

I’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to be a part of the series, be sure to let me know. And by the way, I do not have it all figured out, but that’s part of the adventure. Here we go!!

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Something about Lelia’s original inspiration board just made me know this project would be a dream. It was so soft and lovely … just what I needed to design around. I’ve been so excited to share this suite with you.

Lelia of Lelia Marie Photography was such a joy to work with. Not only does she have a firm grasp on her specific style of photography, she also knew what direction she wanted her branding to turn. We worked together to create a brand identity that was strong and professional, but that also felt a bit whimsical and approachable. Knowing the importance of the client experience, Lelia was excited to incorporate elegant letterpress stationery with a blind impression of a fern (!!!) (as always, printed by the talented team at Czar Press). I was pretty obsessed with the different color envelopes we used. So beautiful. The hand drawn elements paired well with a classic typeface, and we combined all of it to display on her ProPhoto for WordPress blog. Instead of a traditional site + blog, she wanted to keep it all together. I love how everything came together.

To see Lelia’s work, click here. Be sure to connect with her on Facebook as well.

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*All wedding photography is by Lelia Marie Photography. Stationery photography by 315 Design.