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Hope Taylor is a photographer specializing in senior portraits serving both Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA.


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Small Business Branding with Julie Story Guest Blogger | Hope Taylor Education

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This week, I am SO excited to have Julie of Julie Story sharing all about her knowledge of BRANDING on the blog! She reached out to me with the SWEETEST email just a few months ago, and I’ve loved getting to know her and chatting these last few weeks! She is a ROCKSTAR when it comes to all things related to branding and small business, so I am THRILLED to have her sharing her knowledge today! Thank you so, so much for sharing with us, Julie. We adore you! Without further adieu, here is Julie’s incredible post:


Starbucks. Just one word and we get a feeling. Instantly you can almost smell the rich brew, see the tables organized in an inviting way, anticipate the smiles on the faces of the barista’s, and taste your go to drink. Like all of us Starbucks goers, we enter in anticipation, buy our coffee, and leave feeling satisfied even though we just way more on a cup of coffee than most places. Why do we do this?

Branding. You are probably thinking “WAIT are you saying people are willing to pay MORE for the same thing just because of branding? It’s just a logo on a cup?”

Yes, but it’s not just a logo. It’s an entire experience created to build connections with clients and give their customers a feeling when they leave. Consumers are consistently willing to pay more for a better experience, and with Starbucks, some people gladly drive out of their way, pay more, and never think twice. Maybe Starbucks isn’t your jam, but likely you have a go to brand you are a DIE HARD fan off and you would NEVER choose another. That kind brand loyalty is an example of why your brand is so important and so much more than a logo.

In this blog, I am going to teach you the branding BASICS and how to hone your branding to communicate your most powerful secret weapon to your ideal client! Over the last 5 years I have worked with award winning photographers around the world, strategically creating their brands that book them ideal clients each and every time. I’m going to teach you my top tips on building a brand that creates a feeling and experience your clients won’t stop talking about.

Let’s start with the basics!


Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.” Entrepruenuer.com

A brand is an experience before it is a logo or a website. It is anything and everything connected to your business, which means everything you say, post, and show online is now associated with your brand. If you are a small business owner, YOU ARE your brand.

Your brand is also the emotional experience you give to your customers. It is the feeling, service and products you provide. The design of a brand is simply the outfit your experience is wearing. It communicates your experience to your customer just like the first impression of meeting someone new communicates a lot about who they are.


See that lovely teal box? I bet you know where it’s from. If you were to think about being given that GORGEOUS teal box, what is the emotion you experience? Even if you have never gotten a gift from Tiffany’s, the fact that you know how you would feel, and that you would in fact WANT that for a gift, is part of their unique emotional brand strategy.

This is a great example of how the visual of branding- the color, the iconic box- tells a story to a prospect before it’s even opened. It tells the story of luxury diamonds, and it’s a story most woman want to be apart of.


It might sound simple but most photographers have not taken enough time self reflecting to know why they began their business in the first place. You and your core values are the driving force behind your brand. If you haven’t taken time to self discover your vision, your giftings and purpose behind your brand, you won’t know how to communicate your vision to your ideal client through your visual brand. You can’t build a strong brand without a STRONG vision.

SOLUTION: Take time to check in with yourself and discover the core values, of your brand. What is your vision of your brand? What do you want to communicate to your customers? What do you want them to feel? Why does your brand matter? What is the feeling of the experiences you want them to feel? Why do you want them to feel those things? What other companies inspire you? What is their mission and vision of their brand?

Our brands, our companies, are a gift to us to influence the people around us, to serve and love people that become our customers, and turn our customers into friends. What is your brand giving back to people who you get to serve?


“People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.” Simon Senik. Our biology has set us up to make purchasing choices from the same part of our brains that control emotions. This means that your ideal client is not logically making choices for purchases, they are making emotionally driven choices. What does that mean for us? We must sell the WHY behind what we do, not the what.

People buy your vision, your purpose, your core values before they buy your product. This deeper, richer purpose is what helps to build brand loyalty. If Starbucks was hurting people in the process of making our $5 latte’s, we would stop buying, but the fact that they go out of their way to help people like farmers, their employees and us gives us even more incentive to go out of our way to choose them over a competitor.

SOLUTION: Take time to dream and create the WHY in your brand. Watch TED TALK video. Grab this book to give you a jumpstart in finding your WHY.

It’s imperative to know who your ideal client is, down to every last detail. Knowing who your ideal client is gives you an extreme advantage- you will be able to communicate directly to her in a way that speaks to her completely. In order to do this, we must know ourselves, why we do what we do, and who she is down to the very last detail. Communicating through your online presence to a target audience is like romancing. Each person is completely unique and in order to really connect to them, we must know who they are.

SOLUTION:  Watch this video!
AND DOWNLOAD MY FREE Ideal client cheat sheets to help discover who your ideal client is!


This is the visual intro into the brand and communicates in an instant the style, mood and overall vibe of the company. From modern to rustic, this power packed communication tool is key to  inviting the right client to come and take a look. One font can be the make it or break it factor in driving prospects to you or repelling them. Take a look at an example of one of my favorite clients below.


If you had $1,000 to spend on a wedding photographer, which photographer would you likely contact? How about a $5,000 budget for a  wedding photographer? Chances are, you were easily able to make that choice in accordance with the budget, just simply based on the perception of her brand from her logo. You did this without seeing one image she has ever taken. This is the power of design in communicating experience. Her images are STUNNING but her old brand made it hard for her to book clients at the price point she wanted. Now she has raised her prices, and is booked through 2018. This is the power of a visual brand.

Check out her entire brand here!


Your website is the glorious first impression of your services. Liken to a store front, it gives your prospect a perception of who you are and what you are about. As you get to know yourself, and grow, your ideal client will change and just like a store window that switched out items based on the season, your brand will change as your target market does. Below is a great example of one of my favorite clients! She started with website A she made herself and I branded her to website B where she stayed for 4 years and grew her brand. When she was ready to book an even higher end client, I rebranded her to C. 20 days after her new brand was launched, she booked a wedding in France.

To see her full brand, click here!



Notice how I didn’t say your product. Is your product important? ABSOLUTELY. Does it need to be invested into. 100% but the way you treat your clients is equally as significant. You can have the most gorgeous images in the world, but if you don’t get back to your clients, forget to bring your camera to the wedding, and show up 45 minutes later to their session, your image quality no longer is significant to them. Your level of serving your customer should be determined by where you want to go not where you are right now. If you are booking $400 weddings but you treat the client like they are a $4,000 client your brand will GROW to where you want to go. Dress for where you are going, and building a flawless client experience is the faster way to get your prospects talking about you to their friends.

Take time to plan out your brand’s mission, vision, ideal client and client’s experience. Think about the feeling, the experience and the words you want them to use when speaking about you! Your brand is communicating. What is it saying? What is the feeling people have when they think of you? Be intentional about building a powerful purposeful brand!

NEED SOME HELP? Grab my FREE ideal client cheat sheets and get a jump start on knowing who your ideal client is and how to communicate directly to her!


Learn more from Julie with these resources:  WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM|  FACEBOOK

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hi, y'all!

I'm Hope Taylor, an international Senior Portrait and Wedding Photographer based in Charleston, SC. I'm also an educator, international speaker, and the host of multiple sold-out workshops each year!



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