Excerpt from “No Plastic Sleeves: The Complete Portfolio Guide for Photographers and Designers”, Chapter Two: Branding.
The primary function of your portfolio is to present a collection of your best work in order to communicate your experiences and capabilities, in hopes of securing a position or client. While this purpose cannot be forgotten, your portfolio can also be taken much further. It can become a quintessential marketing piece in and of itself. In doing so, it has the potential to make a more impactful and memorable impression on its intended audience. Your ability to develop ideas and market yourself is not only relevant to working in the creative industries, but it can provide a much-needed advantage in such a competitive field. This is especially important for students and recent grads who have not yet had as many opportunities to distinguish themselves in their careers.
How do you move from an assortment of work to a clear and concise brand statement?
How do you utilize a process of self-discovery to create a brand statement that can be used as a touchstone in the creation of your entire portfolio package?
First , consider where you are in this process.
- If you already have a clear concept or idea for the direction of your portfolio: Reflect and evaluate upon this idea as it represents and positions you within your field. Developing a brand statement can’t hurt — the clearer you are about how to position yourself within the industry, the better you’ll be able to do just that. Keep in mind (especially for those of you who do not have a design background) that you can develop a brand statement without developing a corresponding brand identity.
- If you already have a brand and corresponding brand identity: It may be time to analyze your current brand’s strengths and weaknesses, refreshing or changing it if need be.
- If you don’t know what to say and/or how to say it: Begin with a process of self-discovery, defining and shaping your brand position. The work in your portfolio may not be enough to take you where you want to go. While it’s difficult to define something, let alone oneself, in the long run it will help you to have a statement that you can use as a touching point in the development of your portfolio design.
A brand is an attitude. It is a symbolic statement comprised of descriptive qualities that aim to express the heart and soul of an individual, organization, or product. These qualities are typically defined by a set of brand attributes — a list of descriptive words and phrases that have the power to describe style, tone, and personality; establish connections and associations; and shape emotional reactions. Brands attempt to project certain expectations and promises in the hopes of establishing an emotional and intellectual connection with their target audience. Truly successful brands are able to deliver on those promises through the value that the individual or organization provides. Such brands express and establish a specific attitude that is identifiable throughout their particular market.
Think about the clothes you wear, the music you like, and the products you buy. Among all of these things you have choices you make based on certain attitudes and qualities that appeal to you. In some ways, these things even go so far as to defi ne aspects of who you are and the broader culture that you belong to. The most successful brands often become timeless icons of culture — think VW, Coca-Cola, MTV and Apple.
A strong brand should:
- Differentiate: Stand out from your competition.
- Be authentic: Communicate a message that is relevant and
meaningful to your intended target audience.
- Be memorable: Consistently communicate a clear and concise
Coming Up Next: How to develop a “Brand Statement” – Self Discovery