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Judgment Day: Part 2 Bella Boudoir Brand Audit

Evolution of a Brand: Part 2

Well, on this rainy afternoon, the FedEx man arrived with a mysterious package. I was hoping would be my new album sample, only to find it was from Petra Herrmann. Nope, it was not what I was waiting for all week. But, just the same I was kind of enamored with what was inside.

Flash back to one month ago. Petra engaged me to do Brand Audit of Bella Boudoir. “But why, Petra?” I said, “Everything I see you put online looks amazing. You have a solid brand.”

Always the perfectionist and wanting to raise the bar, she pleaded that I take a closer look, so I agreed to take her on as a client.   Everything came wrapped in a beautiful bejeweled satin bow with the initial “B”. Tight. Cleanly simple. Totally elegant. (Slightly James Bond in feel, like a tuxedo.)

004PINWhen I complete a Brand Audit for photographer clients, there are certain elements I look for. It’s the sum of the brand parts that build up to the big picture, the grand scheme. Petra has kindly laid herself out nakedly, for all our benefit, so I hope her Brand Audit is beneficial to you as you contemplate your own brand! I really do like to look at everything the client puts out there, so I can perceive the brand the way a client does subconsciously. I might overanalyze it, but that’s exactly what the assignment is…to overanalyze, objectively.

Here’s my topline checklist:

1. Logo

In a previous post, we discussed Petra’s logo evolution. I love her current logo. It screams luxury in a serious, upscale way. If I see this logo on a rack card, billboard or business card, I would pretty much expect to lay out big money for anything she is selling. She is managing expectations by brand proxy!

2. Color, fonts, aesthetics

There is something Petra understands really, really well, and that’s brand cohesion. All of her branding accessories tie together perfectly. If it’s not perfect, it’s pretty damn close. The colors are consistent, and so is the use of this beautiful damask pattern she has on everything. Soo well done. The tissue paper she uses is lavender and I didn’t love as much as her deep purples. At time of press, she emailed me a picture of the new “damask” tissue paper she just acquired. Of course she did! And you know what? It is freaking beautiful. Well played, Petra.


Client Brain (Subconsciously): Purple = “I am Royal, I am mysterious. Black = “I am powerful, I am sexy, I am expensive.” White = “I am elegant. This will be simple and straightforward.”


Still dying over these. I thought my cards were good…Now I am recommending other brand clients to her printer.

3. Fonts

Fonts are a pretty big deal. If you have something to say, you want it to get read. Especially the important stuff. Often when my brand clients DIY their materials, they try to replicate everything exactly with the logo. One thing to understand is that body text fonts don’t need to be identical to the ones in your logo. What you want to find is compatibility. Your fonts need to be:

  • Able to be printed well. For example, sometimes lightweight fonts on black ink get too absorbed in the printing process and become illegible. (I have made this mistake in the past too!… White on black can be a crapshoot without a test print.) Also, size matters! Consider the media you are using them on and size it accordingly. (Petra has no problems here.)
  • Compatible with your logo or other tagline text. Fonts are like a visual tango, and if you don’t believe me, you can test a few out here. Poorly paired fonts can look like something is heavier than it is or appears tedious to read. Or, just plain ugly. Petra didn’t really have issues here, but I made some suggestions to optimize.
  • A Team Player, aka  Not visually competing with the other elements on the page. When you have gorgeous images beside the text, you want avoid blaring text. Text will be read …or not… but it shouldn’t overpower your images.

My feedback to Petra would be to look at the use of fonts on some materials for her next print run. On the rack card, the serif typeface is a little bit hard to read and competes with the clean nature of her logo.

I might have chosen an elegant sans serif here, and tested print the design on my own printer before ordering. There’s no ink seepage but the font is busy to the eyes on the black. While I am still swooning over her promo book, (like, literally dying over it), to me the fonts feel a tad larger and overpowering than they need to be. I want her images to be hero and the text to narrate them. I might have changed that to a simpler, sans serif or lighter weight font. Really, it’s not problematic, but a little more elegant. Let the images be hero!

4. Communications Voice and tone

I like to assess if the personality of what I read is compatible with what I see in pictures or in person. This is a brand takeaway. Also, I like to know if the person (Petra) fits the brand. I love the elegant, prosaic text she uses in her materials. Her album care card infuses a bit of Petra humor with a “Warning Label” of what this album will make you feel (him and her). I like that. I would love Petra to connect with her clients and personalize her thank you notes with a thoughtful anecdote from the day… it will show her clients she “gets” them and wants to have an ongoing connection. Still, pretty damn solid.


Client brain: “I am feeling ____ about this session (fill in the blank). Does this seem like the kind of business I can trust or make me feel ___?”

Petra sent me her client communications emails and such, which I will assess and blog about in a separate post.

5. Packaging

This includes everything from how something is wrapped to paper quality. Petra has beautiful packaging. End of story. She literally told me she was “mortified” about the pink satin in her flash drive. (Yes, she used the word mortified, LOL). I think black satin would do the job. With the new infusion of gold to her brand, she may want to rethink her boxes and flash drives.


6. Studio compatibility

Does the feel of the studio “fit” with everything else? I’m not talking about upscale/non-upscale. I’m referring to aesthetic “mood.” If a brand conveys clean, modern, sexy and dangerous, but the studio is all vintage, pinks, lace and roses, there “MIGHT” and I say it cautiously… feel like a disconnect.

In Petra’s case, she has a few sets in her studio so it’s a bit neutralized effect. At time of press, Petra also wrote me that she was evolving her brand to include gold ribbon and accents. This is an amazing way to solve where I was headed. It literally ties it all together. Beautiful. A gold standard!


Client Brain: “Yes, this is exactly what I was picturing this place to be!”

7. Website

Does the website stack up to the brand elements? This is a whole separate assessment I’ll take a look at for Petra.

8. Blog & Social Media

We all like to use our own voices and be ourselves. Do you have a consistent voice—elegant, upscale, well dressed, funny, down to earth, whatever, in any point of contact they might have with you? You need to use caution that prospective clients don’t see too many shades of YOU. They will not trust the business and I have seen photographers fail or lose clients because of this. This is something I talk to all brand clients about. I haven’t reviewed Petra’s work here, but I’ll assess her social media presence, etc., in a later post about “Client Communications.”

PINPetra has a very solid brand. She is basically polishing a diamond here, but with a few tweaks and continuing to evolve her brand with her business goals, she is clearly creating something truly special for her clients. Well, thank you Petra, for this beautiful package …and for putting yourself out there so nakedly to illustrate a brand evolution. Here’s to our next round of elements… client communications and online.


AHEM, you can put your clothes back on now. 😉


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