I’m not going to lie.  I LOVE my branding.  Honestly, investing in my brand was probably one of the best things I did for my business and I’m glad I decided to spend the money on it.

For my very first logo, I found a designer on Etsy and had her create my logo based on two logos I had found online that I liked.  I was just getting started, but I knew I needed some sort of identity for my fledgling photography business.  I mean, who has a website without a logo?  I didn’t want to be that person.  I wanted to be “professional” :)  However, I hadn’t really developed my photography style yet nor had I really thought about what I wanted my branding to reflect.  My first logo was a good starter logo, but it wasn’t truly a reflection of me or my business.  I knew I needed to buckle down and really think about the future of my business + brand before investing in a full-out branding experience.  But I always knew it was super important and something I needed to do sooner or later.

This is my original logo and watermark. Anyone remember this? I really loved the concept, but later decided I wanted something that made it clear that I was a pet photographer.

After attending the Passport Workshop in San Diego last May, I came home with big plans for my business.  I knew I needed to seriously think about my branding and take the plunge.  I knew that I wanted to work with Claire Baxter of brandsushi.  I had met her through a pet photography forum – aside from being a super talented graphic designer, she is also a super talented pet photographer in Dallas, Texas!  I just loved her modern aesthetic and knew we’d be a perfect match.  So I sat down and really thought about my pet photography business.  Should I stick with the name Dana Cubbage Photography?  Or should I have a studio name that is more pet-centric?  What if I want to expand my photography business into other areas down the line?  Do I want a neutral logo or something that focuses on pets?  What logos or brands appeal to me?  What colors appeal to me?  Do I want or need a tagline?  My head was filled with so many questions and Claire helped me navigate all of those challenges throughout the process.

Now, I count myself extremely lucky because Claire got it right on her first try.  My logo was one of the first concepts she showed me and it was PERFECT!  It was everything I asked for – clean, modern, typography, sea glass color scheme, dog silhouette.  The moment I saw it, I gasped out loud and I knew that was EXACTLY what I wanted!  We only had to do one tiny edit to the initial design and that was it.  My logo + brand was born.

I realize that my experience with branding was unique.  Most times, there are multiple rounds of edits and the process can take months to complete.  Just know that the wait will be worth it because in the end, you’ll have a clear definition of your brand to help move yourself forward with confidence.  I just went through the branding process again recently for my wedding photography business and this time, it wasn’t as easy as the first.  But I was patient and got exactly what I wanted in the end.  So I can speak from experience – the wait is worth it!

So my advice is this:

  • Find a graphic designer whose work you love.  Check out their portfolio and blog, if they have one.  Find out if they have experience working with photographers and check out some of their previous photographer branding work.
  • There are so many options when it comes to graphic designers and there are a ton of different price ranges.  Like good photography, good graphic design work costs money so know your budget and decide what is most important to you.
  • If you are dying to work with a designer but aren’t sure if you can afford to work with them, email them and ask.  Sometimes designers are willing to create custom packages for their clients.  You’ll never know until you ask.
  • Be knowledgeable and realistic about how much quality branding will cost you.  I’ve heard photographers balk at spending $2000+ on branding, but look at it this way – this is a long-term investment in your business!
  • Whatever you do, don’t cheap out on your branding.  When you’re first starting out, it’s totally fine to get an inexpensive logo made to hold you over until you have a better sense of yourself, your business + your style.  Once you get a grasp on that, then start initiating the branding process with a professional.  It’s really an important component of your business.

I hope this was helpful, especially to those just starting out and thinking about a logo and brand.  If you do your homework and have realistic expectations, this process should be enjoyable – not painful!  Below is a list of graphic designers that I love, so if you’re in the market, check them out!

brandsushi – Obviously, I love Claire’s work.  She has a really modern design style that I love.  She’s busier now than when I used her for my pet branding in 2011, but if you are willing to be patient with the process, she’s great.

Ribbons of Red – I know several photographers who have worked with Renee at Ribbons of Red and they all had nothing but rave reviews about her.  Her design style is very organic and beautiful.  Love her stuff!

Chic Sprinkles – Sarah is an awesome blogger, graphic designer, and photographer.  Her style is very feminine and modern.  She is also super sweet!

Promise Tangeman – I LOVE her work.  Hopefully someday I’ll have the opportunity to work with her because I just think she is amazing.  Promise is also another modern designer with unique concepts.  I mean honestly, check out her website and you’ll see.  She is awesome.

Dodeline – A local Charleston design boutique with a very eclectic portfolio.  Clean, simple logos with a lowcountry feel.  Gotta love it!

Stitch Design Co – Another local Charleston design company with a very organic + natural feel to their work.  Simply beautiful and oh so Charleston.

Thea Creative – Another photographer/graphic designer who creates beautiful branding with an everlasting feel.

I am 100% sure I am missing someone important from this list so use this as a starting point if you’re looking for a graphic designer.  My branding style and favorite designers may not appeal to everyone, but there are so many wonderful designers out there that I’m sure you will find the perfect match for you + your new brand.  Feel free to add your favorites in the comments below.  Cheers!