Sunday, March 29, 2009

Business Briefs: Help Me Choose My New LOGO!

Yippee! After several failed attempts to try to create my own business logo (have I mentioned how terrible I am at graphic design?), I think I finally got a winner!

Paul Martin, the "PM" of the AM/PM Photography duo, my photo colleague and graphic extraordinaire, has created two fabulous designs for me to choose as my official logo. Both of the logos play up the name of my company and my skills extremely well, I think. I love how Paul took the globe and used some of my favorite photos as the continents. I think it pops, grabs attention and will be memorable...everything a good logo should be.

But I need your help in making the decision. Here's the conundrum: "Skin or No Skin," that's the question. The first (shown above) is more general-use friendly in the sense that it doesn't showcase any of my boudoir and artistic nude photography. However, the second version features "Teri's Rose" as South America. I think the difference is very subtle.

I and Paul both worry that the image might offend some. I didn't used to worry about that kind of thing before until I got an email from a friend who said he was afraid to look through my site at work because of several artistic nude shots that appear on my website slide show. Since so many people make purchase decisions while they are at work, my friend worried that I might be hurting my business. I wasn't willing to remove the images that have produced my largest profit in individual artistic print sales, but I did move one several pages further into the slide show, making it less likely that casual viewers will come upon it.

And even more recently, I watched numerous attendees (namely female) at an exhibit shy away from one of my boudoir images as if they were ashamed to even been seen looking at it. Others (namely males) spoke about it as if it were some kind of guilty pleasure to be secretly enjoyed. It's hard for me to separate the fact that people's reactions to nudity or sensuality, especially in America, might have nothing to do with whether or not my images are good. Sex in this country is taboo. That's just the way it is. As long as that's the case, it's clear these type of photos are not going to be appropriate in every setting.

It probably sounds like I've already made up my mind NOT to use the logo with "the skin," but if that's the case, then why does it still bother me so much? I LOVE that photo of "Teri's Rose," and boudoir photography is definitely one of the things I want to continue to develop. I am torn, and I love the way Paul was able to place it inside the continent focusing on the rose. This is probably one of those kind of decisions where I might have to forgo my own personal tastes in lieu of what is more beneficial for my business, but if it's MY business and my choice, then any decision I make is right, right? RIGHT? Oh crap....someone please help me out!


Lisa P said...

I think it comes down to who your target audience really is or, maybe more important, who you really want it to be in the long run. It’s a tough one, I know, because when starting out, one doesn’t want to exclude any potential clients. I get all kinds of advice about what kinds of services I should provide. I’m in a very small market, so it’s important to be diverse. “Do as many things as you can”, I’m told. But at what point does being too diverse hurt you more than help you. And at what point does focusing on what you think people want to see stifle your creativity until before you know it, the thing that made you stand out or made the whole endeavour worth while at the beginning, has faded into the background.

When it comes to topics or images that could be potentially border line controversial, you’re going to offend someone no matter what. You need to be comfortable with whatever choice you make, believe in it and then hopefully the rest falls into place.

Personally, I love the “Terri’s Rose” photograph. I think it’s very tastefully done and hope that as I get to practice more with boudoir type photography that I can create something even remotely close to that! The way it’s showing in the logo, though, it’s difficult to see what the picture is of, if you didn’t already know. I think more of it should be showing. I’m not sure, but some could possibly not realize it’s her back and think it’s her front! ;)

You said that your “boudoir shots produce your largest profit in individual print sales”. You also said that “boudoir photography is definitely one of the things you want to continue to develop”. I think what you need to decide is how important those statements are to you and where you want your photography business to develop. If boudoir is just one of the many services/types of photography you provide then maybe it doesn’t hurt to leave it out of the logo. If boudoir is a really important to the direction you want to take your business, then maybe “Teri’s Rose” should have a more prominent spot in the logo.

Anyhow, probably not very helpful, but maybe gave a little more to think about?? Haha :) You’re the only one who can make the decision. But I know you know that! ;)

-- Lisa P.

Mark Hayes said...

I think Lisa hit the nail on the head in a few places.

My thoughts in general.

1) Your blog (and slideshow) really should be work friendly. Period. If your blog is anything beyond just an artist site, i.e. you want to connect with your customers, you have to make sure that no matter where they view it from it won't get THEM in trouble. Some companies have a zero tolerance policy just so they don't have to make judgement calls.

That slide show is different then just having the images available to view, you're not giving them a choice as to the content to view, so you should go with the safest route.

If you're not willing to do that mark your blog as having adult content so that at least get a warning that continuing might involve viewing images that could violate company policy.

2) Consider separating your work. One of my favorite wedding photographers also shoots some amazing artistic nudes, but you won't find them on his wedding site.
That's one thing I liked about the bludomain sites, they made it easy to run multiple templates and then have a splash page. Click here to view my blog. Click here for my family and wedding site. Click here for boudoir.

Anything you can do to give the client the choice to view what they are interested in is best.

Either way the logo is going to look great on a business card.

Lisa P said...

Excellent points by Mark regarding the blog and slideshow. I like the suggestion about how to separate potentially controversal subject matter from the more mainstream in your site as well. It allows you to be expressive while at the same time giving your clients/potential clients the choice to click or not to click.

Oh, and I forgot to mention last time that I like how the logo ties in with your name 'Picture Your World' and the whole map thing. Very nice :)

-- Lisa P.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the reason some have trouble with "Terri's Rose" is this: at first glance it absolutely seemed like a child, and hence, inappropriate. Even as I look at it repeatedly, I can't get around wondering if it isn't indeed a child.

Sheba Wheeler said...

Thank you everyone who took the time to respond. Mark, you know I trust you with all my heart, as I now do Lisa because I know you have my best interests in mind. You have given me much to consider: how do I go about advertising for my boudoir photography if it's not included in with the rest of my imagery? Mark how does your wedding buddy do it?

And finally, to my anonymous reader, I assure you that Teri is an adult, in fact, she is older than myself. I think you are mistaken to assume the photo looks like a child's body and wrong to assume I would have taken such a photo.

Mark Hayes said...

The guy I was talking about does more artistic stuff than client boudoir so he really doesn't advertise it at all.

As for how too advertise the boudoir if it's not part of your other images, advertise it separately. Maybe that's hard to do with smugmug, maybe get another smug account, or look into bludomain. Some of their $100 templates are really nice and clean.

Then you can custom keyword and tag that site. Link to it from your other sites and blog. I even have an idea for a related domain name, and it's available - I'll email you separately on that.

Now a photo team that does do boudoir, The Sallee's, still keep things a little separate. Two main sites, weddings and seniors/portraits.

Boudoir is a gallery in the wedding site, but not a big part of it. The thing I like about this approach is the boudoir shots are separated from the shots of kids and high school aged girls.

This is where the beauty of multiple sites really comes into play. Have the central splash page and let people see a site tailored towards what they are looking for. It also lets you keyword and track in google each site separately.

Also go check out the blog by Zack Arias.
He's been critiquing sites lately and the stuff he says about other sites really gives even me stuff to think about on my own design.

BTW, love how the new logo looks on the new blog layout.

Sheba Wheeler said...

Thanks for the suggestions Mark. For now, I am going the Sallee approach. I took your advice and moved the boudoir galleries away from the family, child portrait area. Instead, boudoir is now located under the fashion/modeling area (which I may rename Glamour). That way, it simply makes it another service that I offer instead of a separate business. Even though those boudoir images have been my single biggest sellers, I've only had three clients willing to do it. If I get more interested in it, then I will consider breaking it out into a special service with it's own website. BTW love that domain name you suggested and I will snag that up today. Several Model Mayhem folks have said they would like to experiment with boudoir shots, so I may do some TFCD work to beef up that part of my website and see if I can bring in some more clientele willing to do it. Perhaps the brides from my upcoming weddings in May may be interested in surprising their mates with boudoir photos???? hmmmmm ;)

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