Styling a Photoshoot? Why You Need a Visual Directive

I know for me, my creative processes are constantly evolving. I’m learning what works best for me, I’m learning new skills and knowledge that I may want to weave in, I’m receiving feedback from others, all of which pushes me to regularly step back and reevaluate.

This is how I came to add a new piece into my creative process recently — The Visual Directive.

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Why do we tell stories?

There are a lot of buzz words when it comes to social media and branding, and because of the fast pace of all things digital these days, it can be difficult to keep up. Their lifespan becomes increasingly shorter until they become overused and start to lose their meaning altogether.

Storytelling is one of the more recent words that has followed this trend, but it also happens to be a concept that I’ve built my brand upon and consider an invaluable tool, whether undergoing a brand design, building a visual or social media strategy, or creating content. 

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Refining your brand style through outfit inspiration

Remember that post awhile back where I talked about the brand personality questions I ask my clients — the fun ones that help me build a brand profile and dive a little deeper into the style and story? I wanted to take that one step further today, because I’ve had some questions about what that actually looks like, and how you take an outfit photo, for example, and use that to learn something new about your brand.

It’s similar to the process I teach in The Visual Strategy Masterclass, using inspiration images to extrapolate tone words and details that you can then apply to the project at hand. And because I’m in the midst of taking my own brand through an audit and giving it a bit of a refresh, I thought I would take this opportunity to share a little bit behind the scenes of how I’m using these questions to work through this process.

In the spirit of full transparency, I’ve found this brand refresh particularly hard for a couple of reasons

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3 Online Courses for Creatives That are on My Wishlist

Though it's been a few years since I actually found myself heading back to school in September, there's something about this time of year that still has that excitement attached to it. The crispness in the air, the promise of a new season (and with it a new fall wardrobe, of course!), and the opportunity to break open those new textbooks and embrace your inner nerd. 

Except these days, my learning tends to take pace online or more in a workshop format, and it's much more customizable — something that I really love about this new wave of education and all the opportunities it presents.

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The Link Between Perfectionism and Creative Confidence

As a prevalent reality in my life, and something I haven’t quite been able to shake, I spend a fair amount of time contemplating the perfectionism that haunts me. I’ve pretty much come to terms with it, and I don’t necessarily see it as a weakness, per se, but I find it interesting to try to evaluate what specifically triggers it and how it plays with my other traits as a creative.

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Crafting a Visual Strategy for Your Brand

We started this mini series talking about the importance of styling your brand and the role that a visual strategy plays, followed by exploring the visual side of your brand and building an inspiration board in the second week, where we took to Pinterest in order to build our inspiration boards. Now here we are in our final week of the series.

This week, we’re going to talk about how to translate what you’ve discovered in the first two steps into an actionable strategy, the various elements of a visual strategy, and where the details may show up for your own brand.

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Creating an Inspiration Board for Your Visual Strategy

We've already spent some time diving into what a visual strategy is, the importance of styling your brand and the role that a visual strategy plays in the first part of this little three part series, so now it's time for the next step in the visual strategy development process: exploring the visual side of your brand and building an inspiration board.

This is when it starts to get really fun, as I’m essentially giving you permission to play on Pinterest in an attempt to start collecting visual inspiration that will help you start to define your own visual strategy. Always one of my favourite parts of the process, this is when we start to see themes emerge, details take shape and your vision begin to materialize.

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Why You Need a Visual Strategy for Your Brand Imagery

A visual strategy provides guidance as to how to style your brand and the framework within which to share your story. It helps you figure out what to share and how to share it. It helps define the look of your brand and translates that into a suite of imagery that can be used to showcase and enhance your brand, whether it shows up on your website or blog, in your social media content, or through other brand collateral.

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Introducing the Brand Personality Challenge!

Sometimes when we’ve been working in, or on our own brand for so long, we forget to continue to challenge ourselves, or to really think about our overarching brand strategy. Or perhaps some of you out there are just thinking about launching your brand for the first time ever. Either way, having a visual strategy to guide your brand is great at any stage, and sometimes in the haste of moving forward we skip over some of those nitty gritty details that make our brands magical.

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10 Fun Questions to Help You Develop Your Brand Personality

For every client project I embark on, no matter what the details of the package, it all starts with a Brand Styling Brief. I’ve customized a few different versions to reflect different offerings I have, but I have one section towards the end that includes the same series of lighthearted questions introduced with — “now it’s time for the fun part!”.

Though these questions may seem somewhat trivial (and I do have clients who try to skip them altogether), I learn a lot from the answers given, as they really start to bring the personality of a brand to life.

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Using Coloured Backdrops to Brand Your Photos

Remember when we dissected the 5 C’s of content creation? We acknowledged that colour is one of the most effective ways to communicate the essence of your brand, as well as the importance of defining your colour palette to create consistency within your visual content (coincidentally, another one of those oh-so-important C’s).

So, if the first step is needing to identify what your brand colours are, then the second step is creating content that ties your colour palette together.

One of the best ways to do so — and one that has a significant impact on the overall look of your feed — is through your choice of backgrounds.

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How this dress designer developed a clear vision for her brand, complete with sparkly details and custom icons

Breeyn works one-on-one with her clients to design and create custom bridal and evening dresses, and with a love for twirl-worthy dresses and sparkly details that may rival my own, her work is breathtakingly stunning and truly one of a kind. Needless to say, I'm still girl crushing on her pretty hard these days, and feel lucky to continue to work with her in a variety of contexts.

When she reached out to me last spring after I officially relaunched Studio Bicyclette, she was looking for some help with creating a cohesive brand strategy for her eponymous custom dress label, and so we started working together on her overall creative direction. Fast forward to a few months later and the launch of the Visual Strategy Masterclass, and Breeyn signed up for that as well in an effort to further dive in to her brand strategy and continue the work that we had done together. 

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The 5 C's of Content Creation

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to start to feel overwhelmed with all the information out there telling us how to do this, that and the other thing constantly, and I’m also a big believer in learning, sure, but also in developing your own way of doing things based on what works for you and your business. Because let’s be honest, you’re the only one who can really know that.

Which is how I came up with my 5 c’s of creating content, and though the way that you apply these guidelines to your own visual strategy may vary slightly (and they should), I think they’ll help in providing a little bit of guidance as you plan and create your own content. 

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Brand Strategy // Conducting a Brand Audit

I’ll be sharing the process of conducting a brand audit on the Studio Bicyclette brand while also sharing tips and resources that will hopefully help you do the same thing for your own brand. Because although I think there can definitely be value in tackling something like this in one fell swoop, these are also important things to keep in mind on an ongoing basis, constantly ensuring that your brand is on the right track and making the right moves in the right direction.

We’ll start with a bit of an overview to give you the birds eye view of this process, as I tend to look at a brand strategy as having a number of different components

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5 Ideas to Help Tell Your Brand Story on Instagram

We all know the importance of using Instagram to share engaging, quality content for our business or brand.  But sometimes it can be a barrier to come up with creative ideas for the styling and captions themselves. I've been there. I want to help you tackle those  barriers by providing some content and caption prompts. It’’ll give you a little bit of guidance not only for what to post, but also why you’re posting it.

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Photography 101 // The Basics

Today I’ll be taking you through some of the basics and giving you tips on how to improve your photography related content. Social media has quickly become the standard for online marketing and creating a customer following has never been more important than it is today. Photography is an integral part of building your brand and setting yourself apart from the crowd. Successful brands have their photography game on point and you can too! With a few simple tips, the right equipment, and a little creativity, you can do this! Let’s get started…

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How Photographer Dallas Curow Refined her Brand with the Visual Strategy Masterclass

Dallas Curow is a photographer and makeup artist based out of Edmonton, Alberta, and she was one of the first students to sign up when I launched the Visual Strategy Masterclass back in September. 

After a little back and forth with Dallas, I asked her if she would mind if I shared her story and experience with the Visual Strategy Masterclass, especially because she mentioned she was planning a few shoots that incorporated what she had learned and the clarity she had found for her brand. 

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6 Tips for a Successful Brand Photoshoot

A brand is more than a set of brand collateral. More than your logo, your colour palette and your website - it is an experience, and your visuals should help communicate that and showcase your brand style no matter what the touchpoint is, immersing your audience within your story and including them on the journey. 

And how do we do that? Through a styled brand photoshoot.

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