Strong branding does not equate to quality products.
Both small and big companies are capable of producing stellar products that worth our time and money. However, sometimes, small companies create crappy videos that make me puke. Likewise, a huge photo studio may actually hire freelancers who shoot photos worse than an amateur. Thus, the size of the company does not guarantee a good product.
The only difference between both big and small companies lies in branding.
Like all big corporations, large companies spends huge sums on advertising and branding. All focus lies in creating a typical impression about the size of their company.
So how do you show this impression?
Alway remember, the key lies in showing numbers. Numbers everywhere. On the website, banners, posters etc. The number of employees. Huge figures of corporate clients they have serviced. Similarly, 8000 satisfied customers. And of course not forgetting, a huge ass picture of their office space.
Hey, I am not against all these. In fact, I love all this. To me, all this branding and a strong product make a good business. I sincerely respect both big and small businesses. However, the only factor that makes me clueless is when customers buy the brand not the product.
What’s The Difference Between Quality Of Product And The Brand?
So you may be curious. What the heck is branding? Basically, Branding is a promise that companies will consistently offer. Commodities look all the same. A coffee looks like any other coffee. However, when someone drinks a coffee at Starbucks, it represents and promises a place of ideas.
Let’s look at Starbucks’ branding strategy.
According to Jerome Conlon, ex-vice president of Starbucks(Brand planning), pushed for an ideal coffee shop, that offers users a beautiful experience. This experience allows customers to ponder about work, be creative, and find their inspiration. Thus, Starbucks’ coffee goes beyond just a drink. It’s a brand that people associate when they need to have a meeting, appointment, rewrite a plan, or dream.
Here comes the magic question: does every visit to Starbucks promise a good tasting coffee? Or rather. How sure are you that all big names deliver quality products?
On the other hand, what about quality products? Different people have different views on quality. Some people view quality as meeting expectations. I view quality as “an exceptional product that exceeds a user’s expectation at a price that is proportionate to its value”. Some businesses offer shitty products, with extremely high markups. While some businesses, offer kickass products with super low prices.
The key lies in striking a balance.
I mean come on. Don’t be an idiot. Not every business with a good brand promises good products. Likewise, businesses with no brand, no quality products, equates to a total waste of our time.
Look, I think good branding creates the company’s identity, messages, and showcases promises. Every business needs this, but to slack off on quality products just because you have a strong brand is simply disheartening.
So you are telling me a Nasi Lemak ( Malay Fragrant Dish ) in a fine restaurant taste far superior to all the ones in the coffee shop? Are people that superficial? I hope you are not, as I believe you are intelligent.
Why A Single Vision Is More Important Than The Size Of The Company.
Let’s look at this example. Paintings. Does getting 100 people to paint on the canvas guarantees a masterpiece? Or rather. Does getting 1 person to paint ensure a beautiful work? Not necessary. Both do not guarantee the best nor the worse work. 100 person may have a collage of great ideas that can be infused to make a great work. Likewise, an artist with an artistic vision will produce the best work.
The size of the company does not guarantee the superiority of the products.
What matters lies in a strong singular vision of producing the best product ever. It can be a group of people or one person. The vision keeps everyone on one track, one mission.
What matters most lies in harnessing all the efforts in aligning with a single vision to give the best products to the customer.
My Horror Story With Branding.
Long time back, I started as an amateur photographer. All I wanted was to earn some money from photography. Since it’s the start, I needed to actually shoot photos at a super low rate. Almost like too low. Then my job hunt begin. At first, it was so tough because most people will not hire someone who is an amateur. Basically, even if you are cheap, people expects basic quality.
There was once, I was working on a telemarketing job. I met a lady who provides wedding photography and videography as her main business. She said she have an upcoming event that wanted her company to do at a pro-bono rate. Along the way, she asked if I am interested. Viewing it as an opportunity, I accepted.
I wanted to build my portfolio at that point in time. Hence, during the event, I met another boss of a huge photo studio. His bulk of his business comes from photography and videography for events, families, children.
Sometimes One Opportunity Leads To Another…
To actually take the chance, I requested for a part time photographer job. Strangely, without even asking about my background. He gave me a small role. This role requires only my commitment on the weekends with a small remuneration. I checked out their website. At first, I thought they are really big in Singapore, hence I am excited.
Later did I discover their company’s dirty little secret…
Hey, I am not disclosing the company name because I risk being sued for defamation.
After the event, that lady asked me if I am still interested in doing more free events. I declined because I realized she was actually paid.
So on the next weekend, I have decided to go for my first mini job assignment at Bedok Reservoir. It’s actually a family photo shoot that requires me to take simple portraits of kids and their parents.
Being not proficient in my craft, I changed the camera to auto mode. Auto mode meant that I let the camera determine the setting of the exposure on its own.
Obviously, a professional knows how to use the camera in manual mode. To be honest, the fear is real. I did not plan my poses. Likewise, I did not understand anything about composition. All I did is to give some basic poses for the family.
However, here is the catch: If the family does not buy the photos, I won’t be paid. I did not have any expectations since it’s my first family shoot. At the end of the session, the family purchased the photos. I am exhilarated.
Dirty Secrets Revealed:
Funnily, week after week, I started to see more and more amateurs joining this simple assignment. Strangely, on their website, they packaged as if the family photos are shot by true professionals. I rolled my eyes. When the matter of fact, most of them are just starting out in photography.
The truth: Their company hires anyone who can click to get their job done. As long as you can talk, and convince people to buy, that will be sufficient. Most importantly, the kids must be happy.
Dirtier Secret Reveal:
Here comes the best part. One day, the boss asked if I am interested in shooting a wedding video. To be honest, at that point in time I did not shot a wedding before. I told him upfront that I have not shot a wedding video before and will be more than willing to give up the job. However, he said it’s ok, just come down.
He even said this, “Don’t worry the customer cannot tell the difference between a good or a bad video, as long as they can see something, who cares?”
“As long as the the customers are smiling, everything does not matter”
He adds on further with,” Art cannot pay the bills”
At this point of time, I am in shock.
Obviously, what kind of company believe in producing junk just because the customers are not educated about photography?
Not forgetting their high prices for their actual day photography and videography combo package which lies in the range of S$3000?
What about ethics? Cheating customers of being “professionals”, and charging super high prices, when offering sub-par standards?
I looked at other professionals who dedicates time, creativity and uses strong composition to actually tell their story.
Compare to this company, that simply place the camera in an angle that even my mother that has zero videography background is able to execute. Seriously, it’s that bad. Some of their editing works remind me of someone who barely knows about pacing, emotions, rhythm. It feels like the editor spliced everything into one clip just for the sake of it. Why do people pay for this atrocious shit? Seriously? Why not ask someone with an iPhone to get the job done?
Oh, by the way, I rejected the wedding job.
The truth will set you free.
Here is what this company does not want you to know. They suck. But they have an exemplary marketing strategy. They hide their disgusting secrets with their huge corporate client logos splattered all over their website. Everything runs on sales, marketing, and impression. People becomes convinced just because they had covered corporate events. Everything runs on fake impressions, and social proof.
Social proof meant that if many people think that this product produces exceptional quality, it will be deemed as valuable. Example, if 10 person lines up for a chicken rice. People’s perceives this stall to be successful, even though the food is mediocre. Similarly, if 50 person turns up for the seminar, everyone thinks that the seminar is valuable. Little do people know that some people in the seminar are fake audiences.
Hence, the true lasting value of photography as an art form become diluted with this company’s disgusting vision of profit over quality.
So the closing question will be, how do you then determine if you can hire this videographer or photographer?
Collaboration and sharing of the same vision. A client job lies in projecting their needs. While the videographer or photographer needs to advise if it’s feasible. Besides fulfilling the client’s vision, the artist needs to push the limits of his craft and personality to fit into the project. Thus, this ensures continuous growth in the industry which helps increase the benchmark for the next generation of creatives.
Shortly, I left the company. Later, I joined a commercial photography studio to learn about lighting.