In 2017 I launched my first photography business, Icefeatherwind Photography, after honing my skills as an amateur for over 10 years. I took on every job I could, learned as fast as I was able and connected with models, wedding professionals and local businesses.
By the end of my first year of business, I was struggling to keep all my offerings straight. I loved working with families, weddings were exhilarating and perhaps most of all, found great satisfaction working with creatives to produce personal brand photographs. I didn’t want to give any of them up, and niche down to one type of photography, but I felt I never knew who I was talking to in ads, on social media or at networking events.
I decided to rebrand and split my business into three. I rebranded Icefeatherwind Photography to a luxe wedding brand, created The Bubble & Lace Photographic Company as a vintage-inspired family brand and split my personal brand photography and design offerings off to Creative/Brand/Story.
Pros of running different photography brands for different clientele
The main, huge, benefit of splitting my brand is that I always know who I am talking to. I wrote a unique brand script for each business, focusing on how I help each specific ideal client meet their goals. A brand script is essential for any professional, but even more so when running multiple businesses: It’s easy to get mixed up.
It also allows me to niche down in all three areas that I enjoy working in. Each brand ecosystem is a specialized offering. Family clients get one view of my work, business clients get another. I don’t hide from clients that I work in different areas under different brands, but it allows me to talk to each group in a way that’s relevant. Under my single brand approach, every message was irrelevant to two-thirds of my audience.
Another pro: The branding itself. I love graphic design and web design (it’s part of what I sell to my business clients) and rebranding allowed me to match my offering to the visual representation of each brand.
Cons: Things to consider before you decide
First, it’s more complicated to run three brands. There’s three of everything to keep updated: Websites, Instagram accounts, Facebook pages, email lists, LinkedIn pages, Google My Business listings and directory listings. Three times as much content — different for each brand means a lot of content! Making decisions about the channels that give you the best traction is critical to managing the workload.
The major disadvantage of multiple brands is the cost. Software is essential to run everything. I use Later.com to schedule social media, ShootProof to deliver galleries and Dubsado as my client resource management software. All three are, quite frankly, miraculous, but they come with a cost. ShootProof includes three brands as standard, while Dubsado and Later allows separate brands to be added on for a small extra monthly cost.
There’s also the cost of three URLs and three websites instead of one. I’m a web designer so I built my own at a time cost only. If you self-host your websites, you can choose a host that allows multiple websites, saving you money. I use Bluehost for my sites: It’s excellent for beginners as everything’s clearly laid out and they have excellent customer support.
On the legal side of things, you must register three trading names. In Australia, I conduct all three within a single financial entity, saving me time and money at tax time. A major source of extra costs is in marketing materials and studio samples: Because my clientele are different, I have different displays for bridal expos versus family expos.
Most of these are small expenses, but something to consider when deciding if multiple brands will suit your goals. Outside of the financial drawbacks, you’ll have to consider how you price services: How do you price an equivalent shoot for a wedding brand compared to a family brand? For me, I kept my personal photography work priced on the same scale (but packaged differently), and priced for business clients to reflect the commercial use rights over the photos.
The last disadvantage to running multiple businesses is building your brand name and recognition. Building your websites’ SEO and becoming known in your clients’ circles is triple the effort! However, you will find overlap: many of my personal branding clients are also fellow wedding vendors.
Worth it if you serve different clientele
For me, the pros are worth the cons. It’s important to me to communicate with my clients in a way that’s useful and relevant, as well as showing I can take care of their needs. Running my photography brands separately allows me to do that. If you’re someone who struggles when you have competing priorities, then niching down to one speciality will save you time, money and heartache. But if you’re someone who thrives on having a lot of balls in the air, then splitting your business could be for you.