I love talking to businesses that make my business easier to run. Haute Stock is one of those businesses. You are going to love what Rachel from Haute Stock has to say about how to elevate your brand in 3 easy steps. Did you know? I’m providing a free training to Haute stock’s members this month called Pinterest Magic. I’ll go over everything you need to know to stay on top of the Pinterest feed, and you’ll get a few of my Pinterest templates as well. Sign up here to become a member of Haute Stock and access my free training!
Let’s get to the good stuff. Rachel, the creator of Haute Stock is here to share her tips for how to elevate your brand by using curated stock images.
So, Rachel, tell us. What is Haute Stock?
Haute Stock is a stock photography subscription created for women entrepreneurs. I created it because a lot of us are in the same boat, looking for beautiful images for our online businesses. It started in 2015 and has been growing since then. I’m self taught in graphic design and photography. I was looking for beautiful stock images for another business and couldn’t find any that fit my needs. I noticed that other entrepreneurial women were having the same issue and I started thinking about all of the times I needed stock images for my online business.
When you’re building a business online, you need beautiful images for many different platforms at once, which makes purchasing one image at a time really cumbersome. And that is how my idea for a subscription library of stock images, aka- Haute Stock, was born.
Elevate Your Brand with Haute Stock
When we are starting out, we don’t have big budgets and we are doing most of the work on our platforms by ourselves. Having access to a subscription library of images like Haute Stock can put you on a level playing field with larger or more established businesses. Here are my 3 tips for elevating your brand.
1-Get really clear on your brand messaging
The first step is to really understand who your ideal audience is and what it is that you can do for them. Really sit and think about what the vibe of your brand is, how you want people to feel when they’re interacting with your brand. What transformational journey do you want to take them on? I always recommend people think of at least 5 keywords that would describe what the vibe of their brand is. Is it friendly, fun, personable? Or is it more serious and educational? Take time to dig into who you serve and how you can reach them.
Set that foundation before you start thinking about what your visual brand will look like.
People tend to want to skip this step because it’s not as much fun, but I don’t think you can pick out the right fonts and images until you know the answer to these questions. This is the first step to elevate your brand.
2- Create a cohesive experience.
To elevate your brand, visually, you need to create a cohesive experience across all of the platforms you utilize. One of the things that really sets brands apart is, “Does it feel cohesive?”
If someone looks at your website and then looks at your social media account, do they look the same? Are they cohesive with each other?
For example, if you are going to 10 different free stock photo sites to find images for your brand, the chances of those photos working together aesthetically is pretty slim. Then you will have the challenge of trying to fit those images into your aesthetic. Your visuals make an initial impact even before someone reads your copy on your site or feed.
The importance of a cohesive visual brand
If you are wanting to elevate your brand, you need to really think about what your visuals look like. I see too many people using multiple fonts instead of choosing 2-3 and just sticking with them. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the options. I love fonts like I love shoes! But, when you use too many and are always changing them, it gets confusing for your audience. The same thing goes for your colors you choose, too. I really do think you do yourself a favor when you get stock photos from 1 or 2 sites instead of grabbing photos from all over the internet.
With Haute Stock, we curate each collection of images we publish. Every time we release something we think about how the new collection will mix and match with other images on our site.
By being deliberate about your visual brand, it builds a trust factor between you and your audience/customer. If people are moving through this journey of getting to know you and interacting with your brand, they will grow to trust you because they know what to expect from you. They know they are dealing with a professional brand.
Michelle here, popping in:
I want to be sure everyone knows that Haute stock releases new collections of images weekly. I use a lot of different images from Haute Stock across all of my platforms, and I love that no matter what collection I’m pulling images from, they all fit together cohesively so I don’t need to worry about an image feeling out of place.
Because I use Pinterest a lot along with my blog to grow my business, I need new images constantly. I love that I can show up consistently on Pinterest but also be different from other people who are using the same stock images.
Ok, back to Rachel. What is the 3rd tip?
3-Elevate Your Brand with Consistency
Whether you are posting consistently, or blogging consistently, you need to show up and build that trust factor with your audience by being consistent. This is how you can show your audience that you are taking your business seriously.
I’m not here to tell you how often to post. But I do recommend thinking about what consistency looks like for you in your business. Is it one blog post a week? Is it posting a few times a day on social media? Think about how you can be consistent. This way your audience knows what to expect from you. Providing value to your audience consistently will build trust with them and this will go a long way toward elevating your brand. It shows your audience that you are going to be around for the long term and you will be giving your audience value regularly. They will come to look for you to show up and share your knowledge with them. Your audience may not notice when you’re gone, but they’ll notice when you come back.
Bonus Business Tips from Rachel of Haute Stock
Now that we’ve gone over 3 ways to elevate your brand with Haute Stock, let’s talk about building a business in general. I wanted to know more from Rachel about how she taught herself so many skills while building Haute Stock.
What would you tell somebody that is doubting their ability to learn new skills and build a new business?
I feel it’s so important to keep the goal of what you want to do clear in your mind, be focused enough to work on it everyday and be open to learning. Don’t compare yourself to someone who’s been doing this for 10 years. You can learn anything you want to learn.
You know, I learned so many things through Google. From Google, I taught myself how to take pictures on the manual settings of my camera and how to take flat lay photos. I also bought a couple of photography books and I just dug in and learned all I could learn. Let me tell you, I took some horrible photos at first, but I just kept trying. I googled what I didn’t know, watched lots of videos from professional photographers who taught me various technical things about my camera, and that’s how it started.
There is a learning curve. These things take time. Be patient with yourself and know that if you are determined to do something you can do it. Everybody can bring something to the table. Put yourself out there and just keep trying.
I have had a lot of different businesses in my life. Each different business has brought me to where i am and has given me the confidence to learn what i need to do to make a business work.
What branding mistakes do you feel brands are making that are easy to fix?
First, building a cohesive brand. You can’t switch fonts every week, or constantly be in rebranding mode. Now, you will need to change things as you grow your business. And you also need to evaluate whether you are reaching your audience well and pivot as needed as you grow, but don’t rebrand every few months. Your audience will become confused and lost. You need to have consistent branding. It also can waste a lot of time when you’re not working off a template for yourself. Create templates for graphics and images that you use so you can swap the photos easily without completely starting from scratch every time. It wastes time. You need to build a recognizable brand.
Your business relies on you to be creating what it is that is solving your customer’s problems. Don’t spend any more time than you need to on the graphics or creating the perfect Instagram grid. Make it easy on yourself and don’t use it as an excuse to not launch something. You can spend forever tweaking a landing or sales page. Get it out there.
Are there times when we shouldn’t be using stock images?
I believe all brands can use stock images. I think there’s a way to use them for almost every brand. One question we get is from people who have a product based business or who have a personal brand. They want to know how they can make Haute Stock images work for them. One thing I will say is that every business needs to invest in some personal brand or product photos. Stock photos will never replace personal brand or product photos. I like to see these brands use stock photos though, because it opens up what that brand can post about.
If a business is mixing in stock photos about other topics besides their products, then it feels more like you’re building a community and really engaging with your audience. You’re telling a more compelling brand story this way. It gives you a variety of things to talk to your audience about. I’ve seen our photos used by our members who are in so many different niches.
We had an Airbnb that used our stock photos to enhance the story they were telling their audience. By interspersing photos of cocktails from Haute Stock with photos of their Airbnb they were able to really engage with their ideal audience. I think that there’s definitely a place for stock photos in most businesses.
How do you stay consistent and really show up for your audience with your content?
I think you just need to spend time planning it out. Even a week in advance makes a difference. Having a content calendar for a set period of time and doing a rough outline of what needs to be done makes a big difference. It can feel like a stretch sometimes when you’re taking an hour to sit and plan out content with all of the other day to day things you need to get done for your business. But it’s so important to have that. (If you’ve read any of my blog posts or listened to my podcast, then you know how I feel about planning your content! To refresh your memory, check out this post.)
The other thing for me at least is just caring about what our members want and hearing what they are saying. I have been handling Haute Stock’s Instagram feed for the last 5 years because I want to know what our members want and what questions they are asking. It’s really important for us to understand what our members are looking for. I love social media for the opportunity it gives me to connect with my audience. No matter what level of success you get to, you still need to have those conversations with your audience.
The importance of Caring and Connecting to elevate your brand
Rachel added 2 more C’s with her answers. Care and Connect. When we really hear what our people need it helps us to elevate our brand and refine it while building it in a much more connected way.
Rachel, I’m so grateful that you started Haute Stock because it’s helped my business grow. I love having women on my podcast and on my blog talk about their business because it helps us all grow. If you’d like to become a member of Haute Stock and elevate your brand, click here to join!