• jmgilephotography

Stop Being a Business and Start Being a Brand

As published in “Collective Impact,” a publication of the Greater Green Bay Chamber, Spring 2022


Are you just a business or are you a brand? That’s not a trick question. There are hundreds of incredible businesses in the Greater Green Bay area, yet not every one of them is truly a brand.

The difference between a business and a brand comes down to storytelling. Companies telling authentic stories in their sales and marketing efforts have crossed the threshold from business to brand. But businesses relying on generic messaging (such as stock imagery) are missing a huge opportunity to connect with their audiences and create an organization built to last.

Let’s Get Personal

Why did your company get started? What are your roots? Perhaps it’s been built over generations, or a life-changing moment planted the seeds for the business to grow.

Here’s My Story:

I first realized the power of photography when my mom was dying of cancer. I was pregnant at the time and knew she would never meet my son. I picked up the camera to make sure I never forgot her. And I haven’t put it down since, six years later. This experience profoundly changed the value and depth of visual storytelling for me.

A business keeps invisible walls up. A brand gets personal with its audience.

Telling stories like this is an important part of connecting and engaging with your audience. But I want to challenge you to shift your marketing even deeper.

What’s Your Why?

“People don't buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it.”- Simon Sinek

Your audience wants to know: "What's in it for me and why should I pay attention?” We all crave authenticity and real, human-to-human connection in an increasingly detached world. That’s why a brilliant brand story answers your audience’s “why me” and drowns out the noise. The more effectively you answer this question, the more successful your brand will convert customers.


This can be accomplished through copywriting and great verbal/written communication. Yet photos tell stories the way a perfectly crafted sentence never will. Dynamite visuals are the best way to communicate the “why” behind your brand.

Becoming a brand means scrapping bland stock imagery and engaging your audience in real authenticity. Doing so will show the purpose behind what you do, and people will notice. For example, Apple’s business is selling computers, and they have plenty of competition. Yet Apple has also created a brand and effectively canceled out the competition. Apple's brand represents the freedom its products give you:

  • More portability to work anywhere you want

  • Faster processing to save you time

  • Less desk space required so you have more space for life

By perfectly answering its audience’s “why,” Apple has built an incredibly loyal audience and minimized any noise from the competition. Apple’s business is selling computers and their brand gives you freedom. Nike's business is selling shoes and their brand gives the power to live an active lifestyle. Folger's business is selling coffee and their brand teaches you to savor every moment.

Connecting your audience with the “why” behind your brand makes you relevant and much bigger than just a pair of shoes, a cup of coffee, or a computer.

Start Your Transformation from Business to Brand

My business is photography, and my brand is connecting your why to your audience. When you nail down your “why”, you breathe new life into your business and turn it into a brand.

Here’s where to start: Ask yourself, what problem do you solve? Then, dig deeper. How do you solve this problem better than anyone else out there?

No business has a “why” quite like yours, so once you get crystal clear about the purpose you wish to achieve, showing how your product or service will achieve this becomes easy. I can’t wait to see more Green Bay businesses transform into true, long-lasting brands.

Tell real stories and the right audience will find you.


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