Nordica Photography

Branding Art

April 20, 2010

Have you ever tried to define what ‘brand’ means? The average person you meet on the street probably doesn’t have a definition, and why would they? If you’re not in business, then who really cares? It’s just another word, and if you thought about creating your own definition for every word, well, you’d go mental.

But if you are in business, caring about your brand everyday should be top of the priority list. At least for Nordica it is. So we think about this little word and it’s meaning quite frequently.

Which brings us to the best definition we have ever come across. It is by a brand wizard by the name of Marty Neumeier. This is how he defines what a brand is:

A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization. A brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.

When we started Nordica back around the first week of January, this definition was our ode. Our creed. Our doctrine. Our value. In the backs of our minds, everything that we would do would speak to the brand of Nordica and what hoped people would feel in their gut when they see our logo, read our name, or visit our site.

Building a brand should always have a crescendo effect and the inertia should always be working within your control, and if a business does this, the brand should be able to achieve whatever it is the business’s goals are. This is why businesses have strategies and goals after all. With Nordica, we realized that from day one, our crescendo – or differentiating factor – would be our work itself. If we couldn’t present work that was different, then why would we matter?

Accordingly, we had our crescendo right before our eyes from day one: Our style would create our brand.

Now this is a tricky predicament, and they definitely don’t teach you this in business school. How do you treat art as a brand? Unless you’re just a ridiculous natural, controlling this is incredibly difficult to do, and treating artistry as a brand is a question that has buzzed around in artists heads forever. For example, every single band from The Beattles to The Buzzcocks to Blind Melon has had to deal with this branding debacle, and every single artist forever will have to do the same.

But while the question of combining artistry and branding has no science behind it in terms of a successful formula, there is one feature that every artist can abide by. That’s when your art is presented, there is instant association with your brand. Sort of like when the Edge strikes a chord in a U2 song – you know that sound and you associate it instantly with the band.

Now, to reel things in here a bit and bring it back to Nordica, we are building our brand around our style, and we are seeing signs that we’re achieving this. And this isn’t just us patting ourselves on the back and convincing ourselves of this – it’s you telling us this. After all, by our main man Marty’s definition, that’s what a brand is all about.

While logically, most artists attest their successes by the positive reassurances their followers pad them with, we see success a little bit differently in terms of style. We have seen our work get absolutely ripped on via comments, and that’s actually when we realized we were accomplishing what we wanted with the evolution of the Nordica brand.

“You pictures are too overexposed”!

“The people aren’t smiling enough in the picture”!

“You didn’t focus on the right spot in that picture”!

“What is this grainy shit”!

“Nordica are just a bunch of amateurs”!

The negative stuff we’ve read about our work was the first red flag that waved in front of us that said our branding was achieving something in its growth and evolution. Not because we like to read people say our work is shit, but because we like to read that people are acknowledging that it’s different.

Which brings us to the point of this whole post: Our work. With Nordica photos, we really just do what we feel is natural and what we feel looks cool. This goes for our actual photography sessions with people as well. When we’re with couples and doing photo sessions, we have no bag of tricks: We just act natural and feel out the situation, working with the couple towards what we think will result in a cool pictures, while avoiding what so many others are doing (basically the cheesy clichés). In the end, what we feel we’re achieving is a portfolio of work that looks natural, calm and above all else, different.

Being different in a very competitive market is pretty much the only lifeline a successful business can hold on to, especially in the early stages. In our opinions, our work is different, and we’ve challenged ourselves everyday to achieve this. If you put 10 different Vancouver wedding photographers work in front of you with our pictures being amongst the 10, our hopes is that our photos would be the ones you would identify with as being different. If we’re doing this, our style is working, and our brand is achieving the desired crescendo.

But as we mentioned earlier, a brand is what you tell us it is, not what we tell ourselves, and this is a constant process that will continue to grow. So to conclude, we thank everyone for the feedback that we’re being given: The good, the bad, the ugly and (most importantly) the honest. Keep it coming, and we’ll keep working our tails off to produce work that’s (hopefully) a little bit different and a whole lot Nordica. Boom.

By Cole & Jakob  

Hide Show 5 comments
  1. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post... This post was mentioned on Twitter by nordicaphoto: Thoughts about our brand and art.

  2. Alex Lee Behan

    Having seen your work since your start in January I have to say I'm so impressed with how Nordica's brand has evolved. I love your photographs Cole + Jakob. You capture real moments in your shots. I enjoy looking at your collections and referring you to my clients. And the journey continues....

  3. Girish

    Agreed. You have a different style of your own. I think I mentioned this in a earlier post. Specially with your portraits and media portraits. Very nice read I must say. Even I am to a business where there are 100 people doing the same thing. But a unique style, a different look or feel does take you long. There are 100 people who do 3d renderings but few can get life into it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Alan

    Social comments and analytics for this post... This post was mentioned on Twitter by nordicaphoto: Thoughts about our brand and art.

  5. 5 months of being self-employed | Wedding photographer - Portrait photographer - Vancouver | Bröllopsfotograf - Porträttfotograf - Stockholm

    [...] And that Cole and I both come from a business and marketing background definitely helps. The Nordica brand is always in the back of our heads, and our brand values is pretty much what keeps us on [...]

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