May 10, 2012

Pancake Session: Promise Tangeman on Defining a Brand

**Continuing in our guest blogger extravaganza while we are out on the road, I am SOO unbelievably excited to tell you that today to have on the amazing (super hip, absolutely gorgeous, and way cooler than I could ever hope to be! Seriously, the girl just oozes style!) Promise Tangeman to guest blog for us all about how to create a brand. Promise is an expert in all things branding. So grab a pencil. Pay attention. And I know she’s going to rock your world! :) Enjoy!

Hello everyone! I am so excited to be Justin & Mary’s guest while they are…uh… down under… is that how you say it??! Haha! My name is Promise Tangeman, I am a graphic designer with a passion for marketing. I have big hair, I laugh a lot, I ate cookie dough all day today, and I love helping creative businesses succeed while they look DANG GOOD doin it! A few of my recent clients have been TLC’s Randy Fenoli (from Say Yes To The Dress),  and American Idol top-5 finalist, Brooke White. All of which have been really fun and amazing to work with! And today I am here to share the first 3 steps towards identifying YOUR brand. Here it goes!

Everything you do in your business is a representation of your brand. How you respond to emails, how you post processes your images, or how you conduct your client meeting can all be a representation of your “brand”. And your visual identity (which is your logo, website, or print materials) will help showcase that brand and tell a brand’s story. So, before you jump straight into the designing phase… you first need to define what your brand IS!! Most people never think to start the process with DEFINING the brand first, and instead start designing blindly almost like attempting to design a book cover before the book has even been written. What happens is the design won’t be a true reflection of the book at all. You will just be shooting in the dark and may end up with a visual identity that represents other people’s expectations, fluff, and trends, rather than encompassing the nitty gritty of who YOU are. So here are my top 3 tips for avoiding that!

The first step towards identifying a brand is studying your business. And to study your business you must get experience doing it! Shoot, shoot, shoot, develop a process, work with different types of clients, learn who you are and how you work. You will learn what you love and what you hate about your new business. And all of this information is so important and valuable as you move forward, and you will learn all kinds of things that you would have never guessed otherwise. My main point here is to encourage you to get experience doing what you do, and take however long you need to. In the meantime you’ll still need a way to present your work. So I would suggest a very simple website that puts the focus on your work and not on any particular graphics.

Now that you have gained experience and studied your business. You have learned all kinds of things about your self and about your business. So, USE those things to your advantage. Identify and decide upon the key components in your business that make you unique and different. This is where your “brand” starts to take shape. Here are a few questions that might help you articulate your unique point of view: What are you passionate about in your business? What makes you different from your competitors? What are you most confident in in your business? Now, how can you creatively push that forward or up a notch? Can you specialize in any of these things? Take some of these traits and make them the focus in your business. For example: If you are most confident in your interactions with your clients… why not flip over to video mode and capture some of the fun you are having at each shoot?!? Make these short videos a fun staple in your business for clients to look forward too. That way you are building upon your strength and pushing it forward and up a notch for people to really take notice.

Now this is where the visual fun comes in. Obviously my favorite part….because I’m a designer. Now that you have done all the hard work, you have gained experience, and written the book… you are now ready to design the book cover. The main goal here is to showcase everything you learned in phase 2 while representing your personal style and attracting your dream clients. Start this step by collecting visual inspiration that represents YOU and your personal style. And when you are ready… send everything to your hired professional designer. Be sure to collect and curate items that mean something to you… not just random items that you found on Pinterest. Pinterest is a great resource for inspiration… but I would encourage you to know what you are looking for when you log on! Here are several ways to curate items that are unique to YOU! 1 // Browse your closet for suggested color schemes, patterns, and overall style. Jot them down then hit Pinterest with your list. 2 // Create a personal profile that includes everything about you and pull out words that have visuals associated with them. For Example: Let’s say you love making crafts. Explore the different craft supplies that you use on a regular basis. Feathers? glitter? fabric? lace? buttons? etc. Jot those down and then hit Pinterest with that list as well.

I hope some of these tips have helped! You will find that your brand will always be changing, evolving, and growing. And that’s what you want and need from your business. By approaching your brand by defining it before you try to design it, you can make sure that brand is always a reflection of you as you grow & evolve with it.


**To top off today I would love to give-away a designer website from the company that I started called SiteHouse! These designs kind of make me giddy because they are completely customizable in every way BY DRAG AND DROP!!!! No coding necessary. EEEK!! And they work exclusively with Showit software! OOH!!! Justin & Mary customized one and it looks BOMB!! Here is their site: and here is what the site looked like before:

To get entered to win your very own SiteHouse design, just leave us a comment in the box below with one word unique to YOU that you are going to use to start defining your brand. This contest will close at 5pm on Friday, and we will be announcing the winner early next week!! And….GO!!

  1. Lindsi Luffman


  2. Rebecca

    When I started my business a year and a half ago I was painfully shy and unsure in face to face meetings with other photographers in clients. As I’ve become more comfortable and confident I’ve repeatedly had clients tell me how relaxed they feel around me, whether in front of the camera or over a cup of coffee. They even call me charming, which is shocking! If I had to choose one word to describe me it would be comforting…I like soft things, genuine moments, romance, and beauty. All of those things give you a warm feeling of comfort, so I’m gonna run with it!

  3. Ashley B


  4. Emily


  5. Jennifer Cavagna


  6. Alicia White


  7. Ashley Shively


  8. Lea Ciceraro


  9. Sarah


  10. Lea Ciceraro


  11. Jen Araya


  12. athena


  13. Keren


  14. Emily K

    REAL. I’m basing my brand and business on capturing real moments through fresh and clean images. I’m in the process of branding right now and I would LOVE a SiteHouse design to jump start the process :)


    I would love nothing more than to rebrand and really get a good start going! I just got out of the military and decided to go for broke! It’s really hard to pick a single word that describes how unique I am when just starting out because you feel like you’re everything and not sure which direction to even face yet! But I think I’ve the word that describes my personality and style:


    :D Full of high spirits and animation; lively. =YUP!

    Thanks for the advice and I love both yours and Justin & Mary’s work!

  16. Erica keane


  17. Melissa Hunt

    Fresh! That seems to be the word that comes up every time we discuss what defines my brand.

  18. Amanda

    CIRCLES! I love all things circles… they can be so many things – soft, gentle, dynamic, daring… I’m obsessed with them!

  19. Melissa Jean


  20. Jen

    Loyal (sometimes to a fault!), which I want to bring to my business not only visually (an accurate depiction of my clients), but also to the ethics and service that my business provides.

  21. Lucas


  22. Eileen

    Authentic. Authenticity informs everything I do in life, not just in business. And authentic images tend to be the ones that most move me so it just feels…right.

  23. Kim K

    Real and genuine

  24. heidi


  25. Rebecca


  26. Michelle


  27. Emily Snitzer


  28. Wayfaring Wanderer

    The first word(s) to come to mind for me is: encouraging, cute and fun

  29. Brenda Eley

    Fun & turquoise!

  30. Stacey Hemeyer


  31. Courtney Beck

    True. Staying true to myself.

  32. Kat Marcum


  33. Kat Marcum


  34. Emily Massey


  35. Tina Nandi


    (Haha No, I’m not exclaiming about you giving away one of your uber cool designs for free. I like to use the word ‘free’ to define myself and remind myself that I am "free indeed".)

    Thanks for this post, Promise (and J&M) Very helpful, especially for newbies like me.

    I think you all are so cool for helping each other out and I hope that this will happen when the industry in India too!

    be free :)


  36. Ashley

    cozy :)

  37. SARAH

    Friendly…my hubby and I have designed our photography brand around that one word plus 4 pillars of our business built on that one word.

  38. Sarah

    Organic! I love the natural process of everything from photography to food & I try to be as eco-friendly as I can be :) I want clients to feel comfortable and to gently move them into poses that are natural & organic to who they are so they really shine thru in the images. As much as I want the photos to represent my brand & style, I want it to represent my client & showcase who they are.

  39. ellie

    yellow! :)

  40. Jackie Lamas

    Confident: I have lots of fears and through out the years, I’ve learned that being confident can help give me the push in crossing off my goals!

  41. Sarah


  42. Jessica K. Sullivan

    Beauty: My word is beauty. My goal is to bring out and showcase a woman’s inner beauty:)

  43. Jamie

    I’m shooting for timeless.

  44. Adam S.


  45. Amelia Renee

    ooooooohhh whoever wins this contest is one lucky person! Me: sparkly. I love sparkles & glitter & shiney & girly things, and I love to radiate sparkliness to other people! I’m bubbly and giggly and goofy. That may not even make sense…hahha. but it’s me.

  46. Marta VonGrey


  47. Jami Carroll


  48. sarah der

    SPUNK (!).

  49. sarah der

    (I don’t think my last comment went through, if so, I apologize!)

  50. Jordan


  51. Chelsea


  52. chris cornwell

    In-style! SO them : )

  53. Nichole

    Heart <3

  54. Dede Edwards


  55. Annie


  56. Lauren Bernsen


  57. Christine Donovan

    I’m such a huge Promise fan, seriously, I look at your incredible concepts and am so jealous of all your creativity, jealous in a good way of course!
    I’d love to win one of your sitehouse designs, seriously, I’m already a showiteer, and have created my own site, but I’d be stoked to work with you on a revamp!
    For the love of all things Pinterest, it helped me define who I am as a person and as a brand. It’s Vintage. Always has, always will be.

  58. Laura


  59. Laura


  60. Karma Rae

    Great post, Promise. "Genuine" is where I’m beginning.

  61. erin sell

    Tres chic!

  62. Megan


  63. Michelle H.

    My new word…and mantra is… NEON!! xo

  64. Bianca Williams

    Veritas! (truth; honest in Latin) :)

  65. Kasey Loftin


  66. Meagan Bechtel


  67. Karen Bonar

    LAUGH! :)

  68. Ali W

    Relaxed. I want my brand to feel like a beach house :)

  69. Lauren

    I love site house! Makes everything so easy and fun! My word is: Whimsical!

  70. Megan Gielow


  71. Dara S.

    Definitely quirky. :)

  72. Jenn

    Always moving.

    That is me! On the go, can’t book my day enough. i am full of energy and love to fill my life with people and their love. I move a ton at my sessions and love to get my clients moving as well!

  73. Cristal Veronica

    My word is my name: Cristal. Because my future brand is going to be nothing if it doesn’t refect me.

  74. Melissa Thibodo

    Whimsical/Dreamy :)

  75. Kara Humphrey


  76. Kara Humphrey


  77. Suzanne

    Soooo…Fortunate! (We are a husband and wife photography team and we both have a four leaf clover tattoo on our wrists..Our motto "Lucky in Love"

  78. Emma

    Honest – I work hard to be true to my clients & reflect my personal beliefs and strengths and natural ability throughout my work. I work to be open and transparent in every aspect of my new business, and a WEBSITE is something that I haven’t created yet to properly showcase my work!

  79. Amy

    I would like to use LOVELY to define my brand! :)

  80. kate

    I’m going to run with ‘Authentic’ as it reflects who I am – a little bit random, a little bit ecclectic, but genuine and good fun (i like to think!)

  81. Denise

    "warm" as in friendly, approachable, fun – in a makes you feel at home and brings out the best in you – kind of way.

  82. Linda

    We are ‘People – People’ we want our brand to portray that.

  83. Ash B

    Purity – My business partner (who is also my mom) and I have a strong desire to capture people’s hearts and emotions, in their purity. No phoniness. No "cheese." Just the realness of their interaction between each other, so that when they see those images they can relive that moment again and again…

  84. Lori


  85. Stefanie Miller

    Hmmm, one word that describes what I want my brand to say about me, thats really hard to put it in ONE word. But I think the word I would use is I think Vivacious. That one word describes be, fun, spirited, outgoing, love to laugh.. I don’t think my brand recognizes that word, but I am trying to work on it!

  86. Stefanie Miller

    Vivacious, because that word describes me I think, fun, spirited and outgoing. My brand does not recognize that I don’t think, but I am working on it and I think its because I didn’t follow the steps you suggested, I jumped right into making my website, I had what I liked in my head, but yeah, it didn’t come out that way. Its def, a work in process!

  87. Marisa Groff

    visual story teller

  88. Heather

    Lovin’ the sitehouse designs – and i’d have to say… funky.

  89. Alicia Haskew

    Driftwood (Did I just make that 2 words?) If I had to put my brand into an object, it would be driftwood. It’s organic, natural, beautiful, yet stands out from the blank canvas of the beach. So beautiful in it’s own real way.

  90. Alisha

    OH EM GEE, this is so freakin awesome, ahhh!! Okay… first of all THANK YOU for this awesome blog post to Promise and to Justin and Mary for promoting it! I am rebranding right now and alwaaaays restort to Promise’s words of wisdom for direction. With that said, the one word describing my (new) brand is "REAL." Because I have learned through this process as well as running my own photography business, the importance of staying true to myself and being myself, no matter what. I’m honest and geuine and though sometimes I wonder if I will scare people away.. I always strive to remain REAL. It ain’t easy, but it feels good at the end of the day. XOXO!

  91. Nina


  92. cynthia

    Oh la la..Thank so much for sharing this post with us! My husband an I need this so bad! There are so many words that describe me but I think that ESCAPIST is the best fitting one! I am a dreamer, do-er, hopeless romantic!!!

  93. Johnny

    Thank you Promise for sharing this! Best word would be HUMBLE !

  94. Lindsay

    I want to instill "Wonderment" in my brand — Wait.. Is that a word? It is now!

  95. Lauri

    What a great post! So much to start thinking about. :) My word is "Happy". :)

  96. Heather Holleger

    Its hard to come up with just one word, but I would say my word would be Genuine. :)

  97. Heather Beach

    My word is: breeze
    For me, it signifies calm and relaxation. It carries so many tiny details with it that add to the story – smells, sounds, energy… Plus I love the subtle movement and feeling it can bring to a photograph.

    Thanks for the great advice and the fun contest!

  98. Michelle Kirnan

    Genuine. I was so flattered when I new friend once used this word to describe me and I always want me work to reflect the same. :)

  99. Kari Jeanne

    Vibrant. One of the words I want my brand to be :) Thank you so much for this post and your extreme generosity!!!

  100. Joanna H.


  101. Joanna H.

    Efficacious :)

  102. Alisa

    Natural. I love capturing extraordinary moments in natural life, or maybe natural moments captured in an extraordinary way.

  103. Elisa Petersen


    To me this means: natural light, natural facial expressions. Real & True. Earthy & green. Effortless beauty.

    Love this post, Promise!

  104. Anita

    Elegant. I relocated from Europe to the US last year and my style is a blend of Scandinavian elegance and old Southern charm – the best of both worlds!

  105. Dave

    Fearless // The goal of this year is to be more…

  106. Jessica Wood

    Thanks for sharing this post! I think my word would be happy. :)

  107. Shannon Rosan

    Awesome advice! My word is – Playful. :)

  108. Elizabeth


  109. Rebekah Hoyt

    JOY! That is the one word I hope defines me and my style. Also the word I experienced when I saw that two of my favorite things/people were combined in one blog post today! Wonderful guest blog, Promise!

  110. Jessica Crews


  111. Debbie Smith


  112. Ryan M


  113. JoAnna Johnson


  114. Ashley Daniell

    Hi Promise! I love your SiteHouse designs!! My word is FREE. I want to feel the release and freedom to be completely open, honest, and confident about who I am as a person and a photographer. I want to be free to create the images in the way I envision. I’m so excited about your advice and especially this giveaway (since I’ve been considering SiteHouse for awhile now!)

  115. Courtney Brown

    Discover – Establishing my brand is about discovering who I am and my purpose in life. It’s about creating relationships with those around me and becoming a better person through all of the situations I encounter. I am thrilled to be on this journey of life and to be able to do what I love everyday is a total blessing. I hope I win a SiteHouse website! :)

  116. Joanna H.

    Efficacious :)

  117. ginny daniels

    ONE word? Seriously? That is tooo difficult AND why I NEED your help. Here is a compromise: * SOUL * VIBRANT * LIFE (bc I’m a color ho ;) …See?!

  118. ronnie


  119. Colleen

    energy. I like actions, fun, joy….translating into energy.

  120. Christy Williamson

    ~ Essence ~

  121. Brittney


  122. Michele Shore

    For me, that word is Victorian. To me, when I think of this word, I think timeless, elegant, vintage, shabby chic, romantic…everything I want to convey in a brand :)

  123. Shannon

    BRIGHT. I know that I want my brand to be cheerful, uplifting, inspiring, and fun. Bright is the feeling and the vision.

    Thank you so much for these tips–I think it’s time for me to create a brand out of my blogging explorations.

  124. Rachel Peterson


    I’m gentle with my clients, my products are gently designed with care, etc.

    I’m working on it.. but that’s what I have so far! :)

  125. Melissa

    my brand is bright! I’m bright, the way I conduct my business is bright, my attitude toward clients is bright – my word is *definitely* bright!

  126. Melissa


  127. Tracy Ann

    Passionate. To share my passion with everyone and let them see how much I truly love what I do.

  128. Jennifer Medeiros

    Throwback. Seriously… I love being a mom and wife and am crazy about the 40’s and 50’s. I actually recently hired a designer to create a logo for me that resembles that of a painted 40’s advertisement!

    Oh and Promise Tangeman + Justin & Mary = Ahhh-mazing! :)

  129. Emma

    ‘Timeless’ – for me my style represents the now, the future and the past.

  130. SarahC


  131. Morgan Atkinson

    eclectic. but my current visuals don’t represent that at all. :0/

  132. Ariel Mandeville

    Dynamic… I can’t do just one!!! Here are 3… :) Fun, Dynamic and Real.

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