On one occasion at a trade show, a friend of mine, who was employed by a competitor, approached our booth and said, “You guys are so serious!….all dressed up in suits! Come on, these are photographers! They’re so casual!”
If you ever attend a photography trade show such as Photo Plus, Imaging USA, etc., you’ll come across a handful of companies who sell inkjet media just as we do. Each company is presenting to the public all that they have to offer. As you walk from booth to booth, you’ll see samples of all the different types of media, and you’ll hear company representatives explain why their products are better than the competition. And like clockwork, as my friend referred to above, you will find the representatives from these different companies very casually dressed – either in t-shirts or golf shirts that bear their company logo.
Everyone Just Looks the Same
Despite differences in corporate colors, there aren’t many differences between the appearance and message of these companies. Imagine how confusing this can be for photographers, who come to this show to learn and make decisions for their business. After a whole day of visiting these booths, seeing the same types of media but just under different brands, hearing the same claims from representatives who more or less wearing the same attire, it’s a wonder how any photographer could leave the show with a unique message or feeling about any of these brands.
Enter Breathing Color.
At our booth, you’ll see that the guys are dressed in navy blue suits, with white shirts and red ties (in sync with our corporate colors), and a lapel pin bearing our logo. Similarly, the women are cohesively dressed with an emphasis on professionalism and class. You’ll find that our booth design is consistent with this emphasized professional theme. Because we are the only inkjet media manufacturer who approaches a trade show in this way, we definitely stand out (again, hence the statement from my friend in the opening of this article).
Why We Do It Different
So why do we do this? It’s because we intend to and do send a strong message about the overall professionalism, class, and commitment to quality of this organization. We’re not selling cheap stuff here – fine art paper, photo paper, and canvas are both expensive and fragile. Our customers are using our products to create fine art prints that are sold for several hundred or several thousands of dollars. We understand that. We want them to know, without having to ask, that every Breathing Color product is first class and state-of-the-art. We want it to be implied that no superior alternative exists. In my opinion, we won’t send a message of this significance in jeans and a golf shirt – for the same reason that a Ritz Carlton doesn’t look like a Holiday Inn, and a limo chauffeur never shows up in a tank top and flip flops. It’s implied. Appearances communicate strong messages about quality, professionalism, and class. That’s why we dress the way we do. It’s consistent with how we operate.
We put an extreme amount of care, quality, and concern into every product we design, develop, and release to the market. We believe we take this to an entirely different level than our competitors and that this message, this commitment to the highest standard of quality possible, must be communicated. Our commitment to the highest quality standards is not exclusive to our product development alone; it is a companywide credo that extends to every facet of our organization – customer service, marketing, and even down to the care in which our shipping department will pack each and every order (note that striving for perfection doesn’t mean we are mistake-free by any means!). We just want our customers, if possible, to experience this commitment with every interaction they have with us. Therefore, our professional attire and overall presentation is a visual manifestation of this companywide commitment.
Our Customers “Get It”
It makes me very happy when new customers see us and “get” what we’re trying to communicate with the whole brand of Breathing Color. Here’s an email we got from a Photo Plus 2010 visitor, who had never before met us or heard of Breathing Color:
“I was at the PhotoPlus Expo, and I ended up at your booth because it was the most professional. I made a purchase without doing any research on your company or knowing of its reputation. Of course, I have since gone on your website and am impressed and happy I ended up at your booth.” - Frank DeGrim
Appearances do send strong messages. Frank hasn’t even tried our products yet, but clearly, Breathing Color stood out to him and that was the difference maker. We’re grateful for his confidence in us, and now it’s our time to live up to our message. We can’t wait for him to receive his first order, make some prints, and experience the elite standing of Breathing Color inkjet media.
What You Should Consider for Your Own Business
So whether you’re a print studio, photo lab, photographer or artist….I will leave you with a few questions to consider for your own business:
What is your brand message? Is your business appearing in a way that is consistent with your brand message?
Are you appearing different from your competitors in a significant, tangible way? If so, what is it that really makes you different? Are you communicating these differences in a consistent way with your overall brand message?