by Ron Pybus Published 01/02/2009
We have always kept the studio clean but now we make even more certain that it is spotless and warm at all times, slight scuffs on walls are painted over the next free day. In making these changes we feel that we have moved our studio from the late 1980s well into the 21st century. The images on the walls have also changed, with more contemporary images and many fewer traditional pictures on display.
It does not stop there. We were happy, and so were our customers, with the image quality, but felt we needed to upgrade. It had been our policy to keep prices low by supplying prints only and offering folders as an extra. With our new image we now supply all our photographs in strut mounts with all our full-price packages. These mounts bear our new logo and name in one corner.
I then moved to how I dressed. I had always tried to be smart, but like most photographers I dressed in black. I changed my shirts to white or green, both to tie in with the whole new image we were about to launch, and to overcome the perceived fear that some younger children seem to have with dark clothes. Although it was fairly rare to have problems, since I changed colours I have far less problems with young children than happened in the past.
I have always been concerned about my professional image and my commitment, but even more attention is paid to ensuring that both the studio and I look the best they can, before opening the doors to customers. I have to admit that having made the personal changes I feel different myself and it has affected my whole attitude. It is just the same as when you put on your best suit when going out for the evening - you feel different!
Because of the recession we reviewed our price structure. Our main sales from standard family photography are in the form of packages and on 1 October we usually raise our prices by 6%. This year, having talked to customers about what they wanted, we identified that customers, in tight financial situations preferred the smaller package (of seven prints) to the pack of 10 prints. As part of our revised costing process we dropped our pack numbers to five and eight rather than seven or 10, we included strut mounts rather than charging for folders and we raised the price by 3%.
We explained to our regular customers that we had followed customer comments by keeping prices lower (we did not specify more than the vague 'lower') by slightly reducing the number of images, but now providing them in mounts. Since October all but two customers have been happy with the change and both were prepared to pay extra for a slightly enhanced package.
So we have remodelled the studio, revamped our presentation of images, ensured we personally meet our new standards, we have added visible value to our images and adjusted the numbers of prints in the packages, only then did we think about creating a brand logo.
As a company we brought together my wife's textile and art business and renamed ourselves Pybus Studios. As well as unifying what we do, it creates a stronger brand, because all our art sales are under the same banner, not two separate ones. At the moment it has a slight tax advantage, but that may not continue.
The world is constantly battering on about 'going green' so we took it literally and all our publicity material is green. We used to trade under a plum colour, but experience showed that in sunlight our signs faded into a muddy colour. We then looked at our situation and wanted to demonstrate we were in the country and we talked about our journey into the future. We ended up with the concept of a stylised view from the studio but with the addition of a track or road to show we were moving on.
I produced a few images of various local views - we dismissed the white horse that we can see from the studio as everyone seems to use it - and finally settled on the view from our studio window, This was passed to a graphic designer, and after a few passes backwards and forwards we ended up with our present logo. It had to be adaptable and we had him produce a whole series of logo and text, logo alone, text alone, text below logo, text alongside logo, plus black and white on a CD.
We then set about the huge task of redesigning all our literature. It is amazing just how much printed material we held.
Business cards, several price lists, headed paper, collection envelopes, price displays, booking forms, gift vouchers, promotional vouchers, studio signs.
All our displays in outlets in the town needed changing over from plum colour to green with the new logo. Our website also needed a total revision both in prices, images and colour and I am sure that as time goes on we will find something we have missed - just the same as taking down the Christmas cards but still finding an odd one still displayed in the middle of January!
The success of your re-branding will not just rely on the changes you physically make and your logo, but on your customer care, the appropriateness of the images you take, and the experience that customers feel they have had following a visit to your studio or that they have experienced at a wedding.
We launched the new image on 1 October 2008 to coincide with our new prices. We have had lots of favourable comments on the change and the logo since than and quite a lot of positive comments from former training customers about the new logo and new image on our stand at the Convention Trade show.
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