Photo & Post by Dane Sanders

Editor’s NOTE: This is a guest post by my friend Dane Sanders. He’s got lots of good things to say to photographers who want to go or stay pro. Visit http://fasttrackphotographer.com/ to learn more information about Dane.

Since we photographers are largely made up of independent Creatives looking to have our output make an impact on the world, it’s understandable that it can be easy to forget what’s even more important: the product that results from the product created.

In marketing parlance, this is sometimes called one’s core benefit proposition or the feeling produced as a result of experiencing the product itself.

In big business, we understand this concept intuitively. Nike doesn’t just sell sneakers, they help their customers to “Just Do It.”

Apple doesn’t just sell computers, they promise to make their customers “Think Different”… to feel like a “genius.”

Oprah isn’t just a talk show host or a book reviewer or a magazine publisher. She promises you – the customer – that if you let her in with any of these products, she will give you what you need to “Live Your Best Life.”

Of course, I’m not commenting here on whether or not Oprah or Nike or Apple are successful in keeping their promises. But I am celebrating that they are clear and committed to causing a very specific feeling to happen for the person experiencing what they produce.

Of the three examples, my favorite is Oprah because she isn’t just a massive brand. She is also a very human person. In fact, I would classify her as an independent Creative looking to have her output make an impact on the world. And, the brand she’s created is simply a reflection of who she is committed to being for that world.

She is the epitome of the Signature Brand. That’s right folks… you and Oprah are playing the same game.

For some reason however, I commonly experience a disconnect when I get into this conversation with photographers trying to create a Signature Brand. Let me show you what I mean.

I recently Twittered the following question to see what kind of response I’d get:

@DaneSanders: In building a signature brand the chief challenge is naming & claiming your core benefit proposition. What is yours? (pls share)

This was one of the responses I received:

@ my anonymous friend: Have to think about that Dane. Just finished my new branding colours etc. But benefit proposition…..

My friend’s rhetorical statement at the end is chilling and absolutely predicatable. The business focus of most photographers is at such a low elevation it is impossible to see the big picture.

What I make up in my head is the twitter responder is overwhelmed with my question: Core benefit proposition? What?? I’m too busy working on my color scheme.

The antidote to this dilemma is less complex than you might think. All that’s required is a commitment to elevate your perspective.

If you’re intent is to build a signature brand as a photographer, before getting lost in the minutia of workflow and technique and gear (and logos and color schemes), ask yourself what kind of experience you are committed to create for your customers through your output?

The feeling of simplicity that comes from elegant black and white images? The feeling of drama that comes from photojournalistic tension. The feeling of exclusivity that comes from an image of a rare or dangerous animal captured in their natural habitat? The feeling of awe that comes from images that capture viewers with the feeling of “how’d they do that?”

The options are endless.

The great news is each of us have been created, at core, to provide one of these in particular. I wonder if it’s time to do a little soul searching to name and claim what you were made to create and why.

Trust me: Technique can be taught but your core focus needs to be discovered first. And the best news is once you have a working sense of what you were made to create for the world, the sky’s the limit on where you will go with your craft.