Wedding Business Branding: Your Authentic Story
Step into any successful business, and you’ll find that at the very heart of its success is it’s branding.
A brand that resonates. A brand that is relatable. A brand that is inspirational. A brand that gives value.
As the owner of a wedding business, in almost all circumstances, you are your brand. Whether you’re a wedding planner, a wedding photographer, a wedding make-up artist or a wedding stylist… your clients are buying time with you. They want you as their confidante and the person who brings their dream wedding day to life.
It’s so important that you get your branding and storytelling right. Because it’s what will sell you. If your brand isn’t relatable, inspirational or simply doesn’t resonate with your target market… then you can forget success.
Quite simply, you need to get your branding right in an authentic way so that your dream clients “get you” from the beginning.
So, no matter if you have an existing wedding brand or not – this is what you need to know about wedding business branding – finding your authentic story.
You Are Your Brand
Here’s secret successful marketers know: customers don’t buy a product. They buy you.
The unique qualities only you possess.
There was a time when “branding” meant a corporate-looking logo and a slick catalog, but in today’s online marketplace, the real value is not in appearing to be a big company, but rather in just being you. And your personality shines through in a variety of ways.
Your Authentic Voice
How you speak and write and even how you act on camera or in an audio interview has the power to instantly identify you to your audience. You can see this in action if you scroll through your Facebook feed. It’s easy to know who has posted a particular image or status update, just by recognizing the voice with which they generally speak.
Here’s an even more important aspect of your “voice” though: it has the power to attract a specific audience. In recent years, a few high profile wedding professionals and product sellers have become celebrities of a sort – and by living their brand and having an authentic voice on social media, their websites, the media and in their day to day business, these stellar wedding professionals have become celebrities in our industry. Think Mindy Weiss. Think David Tutera. Think Vera Wang. Think Renee Strauss.
While very different in their approach, these amazing professionals have one thing in common: authenticity. It’s clear that if you were to meet any of them in person, they would speak and act exactly as they do online and in the media. And their brands are stronger for it.
How did you get to where you are today? The backstory—which to you might seem boring and uneventful—is a powerful tool that can help solidify your brand and attract just the right audience.
Sofia Krokos tells of her upbringing as a Greek-American family and how her love for entertaining was ingrained from birth, and of creating an wedding business that inspires her, giving her the opportunity to work with her ideal clients in her boutique New York wedding planning agency. This gives clients a sense that Sofia is picky and inspired, and chooses her clients carefully, so they feel lucky to have the chance to work with her.
Lauren Fair speaks often of her love for travel and adventure, and as a romantic wedding photographer, her blog, social media and life just resonates perfectly with her brand.
Your story doesn’t have to be dramatic, and you certainly don’t have to share more than you’re comfortable with, but it does have to be yours. Be your true self, and you’ll never have to worry about attracting the right audience. They will self-select, and your perfect client will find you.
The Art of Storytelling
Whether you want to touch a nerve, reach a new audience, or boost your sales, storytelling is the most powerful tool in your arsenal. As humans, we love a good story, and when it resonates with us, it can drive us to take action when nothing else can.
Think about it. Which would you rather read, an interesting story, or a sales letter? Which are you more likely to remember a week from now, a compelling story, or a features and benefits comparison? And which are you more likely to buy, a story you can see yourself in, or a product that does x, y, and z?
If you think back on your most recent purchases, from the business coach you hired to the car you bought last summer, chances are you’ll find a story that resonated with you, and that drove your decision to purchase.
Stories About You
You’ve heard it time and time again: People buy from those they know, like, and trust. And part of getting to know you is hearing your stories. Your potential clients want to know how you came to be in business, what experiences you’ve had that drove your decisions, what lessons you learned along the way.
Your stories don’t have to be directly related to business to be powerful, either. That anecdote about the time you nearly got arrested for not having a valid driver’s license is the perfect lead in to a blog post about better record keeping. Or the story about how you accidentally seated two warring families together at your wedding reception? It’s just what you need to drive home a point about relationship building.
Stories About Your Clients
Otherwise known as social proof, stories about your clients are incredibly useful in your marketing and branding strategy. Testimonials, portfolios, case studies and the like are all just stories, after all, and they showcase how you and your services improved a wedding day for the better.
Stories About Your Products and Services
Yes, even your products and services have stories to tell. Why did you decide to create that new package or program? What will it help your clients achieve? Who is it not suited to? These stories and more can show your potential clients more about your products and services than any sales page ever will. When you openly share your thought processes as you were creating your program, buyers will instantly know if it’s a product that will work for them or not.
Clearly, stories have a lot of power when it comes to branding and marketing, but you have to use caution. Beware of the awkward insertion of a story just because you’ve heard it’s good for your marketing. If you find yourself midway through a blog post and you write something like, “but anyway, enough of that, let’s get on with business” and then making a total shift to a completely different subject, chances are the story isn’t working.
But if you can tie your story in naturally to what follows, that’s your golden ticket to better branding, more sales, and a more profitable wedding business. We love stories. Don’t be afraid to tell yours.
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How Much Transparency Is Too Much?
We’ve talked about storytelling and authenticity, and how being your true self is your most powerful branding tactic. But just how open and honest should you be when it comes to sharing your story?
Transparency comes in other forms as well. Struggles with alcoholism, depression, cancer and other health concerns are commonly shared. Stories of marriage and relationship triumphs (and tragedies) are told. Even spats between competing businesses aren’t off limits for some wedding professionals.
That doesn’t mean, though, that you have to be frank and honest about all areas of your life and business. With a little forethought and planning, you can keep certain aspects of your story private.
Watch Your Social Media Profiles
Here’s where a lot of wedding business owners falter, especially when it comes to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. You have your personal profile, to which you invite friends and family, and your business page, where you talk, well, business.
But there will inevitably be some overlap. Colleagues will slowly filter into your personal timeline, and you into theirs. Pretty soon, your business people are hearing all about your latest bout with the flu and that snarky thing your mother in law said yesterday. Too much? Maybe.
When it comes to your social media sharing, it’s important to pay close attention to not only what you say, but who you’re saying it to. Using privacy settings, contact lists, and even limiting who you “friend” can help maintain your privacy while still being transparent about your wedding business offerings.
Remember, the Internet is Forever
While privacy settings can help, a better way to keep your personal business away from prying eyes is to simply not post it at all. Think of every blog post, Tweet, Facebook status update and Instagram pic as a billboard. If you wouldn’t post it on the side of the highway for all who pass to read it, don’t put it online either. The chance that it will “leak” (despite your best efforts) is great, and once it’s out there, you will not ever get it back.
So think twice about those nasty replies, intimate details, and other confidential information. You just never know who might be reading, and they will affect your brand image.
The bottom line? Know your audience and know yourself. If you’re not comfortable sharing certain aspects of your life and business, chances are they won’t be comfortable hearing about it, either. It’s okay to maintain some privacy, even in this transparent world of online marketing.
The bottom line with branding is that you need to create a brand that resonates with your audience but most importantly, represents you authentically. You need to be you, naturally. You’ll find your voice in the wedding industry. You’ll find your audience. And, you’ll find your tribe. And once you do, keep communicating in the most authentic way possible with a balance of being you and being professional.
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Love and wedding planning bliss,
Hi, I'm Kathryn
I'm the CEO of Weddings Inc. Join 1000s of wedding professionals and get access to my free library of videos, e-books, worksheets and more to help you grow your wedding business.