5 Simple Steps to Building Your Brand - school
Brought to you by the photographers at SmugMug

brand  is the essence or promise of what will be delivered or experienced.

A unified brand says you’re cool, polished and professional. It should be consistently reflected in all elements of your business:

1. Business Name

2. Domain Name

3. Business Strategy

4. Website Design

5. Business Cards and Thank You Notes

6. Signage on your physical store front or event booth


Your brand should tell your potential customers who you are at a glance and it should enable you to stand out in a crowd. 

Studio KYK used SmugMug to help establish and grow her brand. She maximized SmugMug’s customizability, first working with a designer to develop her logo, later designing her SmugMug website to best represent her brand, whimsical attitude and individual style. Her SmugMug hub showcases her gorgeous photography and shows how much fun it will be to work with her.

Where can you find inspiration for  your brand?

Advertising is everywhere! Look through magazines - perhaps your favorite fashion label or auto manufacturer’s logo catches your eye. Pay attention to the commercials on television and even on radio. What tag lines grab your attention? What’s your elevator pitch?

Think about your business from the customer perspective.

Does your logo say Sport Photographer? Is your color scheme appealing to brides? Is your tag line going to grab the attention of a publisher?

Make sure that your brand is clearly reflected in your portfolio, in your website and in your messaging so the prospective customer can get a good sense of you, your work and whether or not you are a good fit for their needs.

Our branding is key to our success. Having the chance to design and program a site that looks and feels like us is a key element to our success. The best compliment we get from our customers is that they think we are a franchise. That means our branding, awareness and operation, both on-site and online, make us look this way. And that's a good thing!

Glossy Finish

How can SmugMug help create your brand?

1. Customization:

SmugMug's Customization Tools lets you establish your brand, through use of color scheme, font and your own logos, quickly and easily through just a few mouse clicks! Start with a design, add your own brand elements and you don't need to write code!

As you work in the Customizer, we will show you a preview of the changes as you make them. You can save those changes and publish them later, or if you like what you've done you can publish them so that they are live! There's a start over button, too. Tweaking the look of your site is super quick and easy with this tool.

Want something more uniquely you? Enjoy messing with code? Willing to hire an expert? SmugMug’s deep customization ensures that with a little CSS and HTML, you’ll have a completely unique look and feel across your whole website. The sky is the limit with advanced customization! We have several certified customizers that you can hire to design your SmugMug site, and perhaps your logo and business stationery too. Check their offerings to find the one that's right for you


We customized our website using a sophisticated architecture that was necessary for our business,” Natalie says. “This allowed two artists to merge and optimally showcase their work.” The partners attribute their success in part to SmugMug’s customizability, which Natalie calls “streamlined and easy to use.

JeRevele Fine Art Photography

2. Custom Domain

You don’t need your own domain to share and sell, but it sure makes you look like a million bucks.

Tip: use the kiss principle here as there will be far less opportunity for typos!

But that price is deceiving: Most custom domains cost under $20 per year, which is way less than you make in an hour of shooting. And if that isn’t enough, you can usually get a custom email address wrapped up into the deal. A unified brand says you’re cool, polished and professional.

3. Cart and Package Branding:

Your customer’s experience doesn’t end after clicking “Buy.” Stay in touch and keep them thinking of you by adding a 4×6 Thank You Print in the delivery box. You can customize it with any image or message you wish (like a coupon code towards their next purchase, *hint hint*) and we’ll pack it up and send it along.

Glossy Finish has the Cart Branding feature firmly in the “on” position: “Branding is a huge part of what we do best, which can be seen in our website customization. We [use] Cart Branding so our customers know they’re getting a great Glossy Finish product. We also use the box sticker. We want customers to know who they are getting a package from and, most importantly, thank them for their order.

4. Watermarks and Printmarks:

Your watermark does double duty when your images are shared on social media: image protection becomes free advertising if your watermark includes your branding.  A watermark needs to be obtrusive enough to prevent image theft, and yet be subtle enough to provide your customers with a clear view of the details in the photo. A large and centered, yet translucent, logo as watermark is a great way to accomplish this.

Similar to a watermark, a printmark is your logo or other design added to the items purchased by your customers. Add your Studio Logo or Artist Signature onto the  prints and digital downloads that you sell so there is never any doubt who took these gorgeous prints. Branding digital downloads is a great sales tool:web sized, print marked downloads shared on social sites become advertising for you!

We wanted to have a presence on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, where so much photo sharing takes place. We know how important printmarks and watermarks are to both our business and our creativity.' Ariav milks every branding opportunity he can out of SmugMug’s tools, even while focused on image protection.

Glossy Finish

5. Mobile Site Branding

Your SmugMug galleries automatically appear on mobile devices looking smooth, slick and beautiful. All new SmugMug sites are totally responsive to the size of device they are being viewed on, so they are mobile friendly right out of the box!

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