What do you think when you hear the word “brand”? A name? A logo?
Those are important but they’re just the beginning. Your brand is a comprehensive story that encompasses your values, your personality, and the unique experience you offer to your ideal client. The right brand identity is a magnet for clients and collaborators who resonate with your vision. A strong brand is important for any business but essential for wedding vendors.
I operate three wedding venues in Maryland and several franchise locations throughout the U.S. (and soon Canada!). When someone asks me how I got here the answer is always the same — by being true to the brand identity that I invested in and established from day one.
When I opened my first event space, with my freshly minted MBA under my arm, I took an almost analytical approach to the wedding market, scouring reviews of existing venues in my area to see what client needs weren’t being met. I had almost zero experience in the events industry — I made the leap from broadcast journalist to wedding venue owner — but knew that the key to success for just about any business is to create a product that solves a problem in an existing market instead of creating a product and then forcing it to fit into the market. But being that solution won’t do you any good if no one knows about it. Your brand is the tool you use to convey to potential clients that you are the solution to their problem.
In this article I’ll share my story and practical tips for how you can build your brand, including:
Weddings are personal. In my own life, I encountered three major problems in the wedding industry that I kept in mind when developing my brand because I knew I wanted my business to be part of the change.
First, I found that there was an unmet gap in the local market for venues that were high-end and luxurious but also approachable and warm. Approachable luxury became central to my brand identity because it embodied how I would run my business and attract my ideal clients.
Second, venues in my area felt like they existed on opposite ends of the scale — either dated or trendy, with few options in between. I knew I wanted to repurpose historic buildings and give them new life as event spaces. A wedding is an event that will be celebrated and remembered for years afterward and I wanted to create venues that felt timeless.
Finally, and most personally, when two members of my family were planning their wedding, I remember how painful it was when vendors would refuse to work with them because they were a same-sex couple. Nobody should face rejection while planning their wedding because of who they are. I wanted my brand to immediately convey to potential clients that we welcome all so they wouldn’t even have to ask if they would be fully celebrated at my venues. This focus on inclusion and diversity are core values that I want to convey on all touchpoints so that my brand resonates with my ideal client. I wanted potential clients to see themselves represented in my branding.
Using these personal principles and working closely with a professional brand designer, I was able to successfully define and create my unique brand identity in a way that is part of all aspects of my marketing to this day. This might be the most valuable investment I made when starting my business.
Whether you're a wedding planner, photographer, florist, or, like me, a wedding venue owner, the challenge remains the same — how do you set yourself apart? To distinguish yourself, start by:
1. Your Story: Share the journey that led you to become a wedding professional. People connect with authenticity, so don't be afraid to be honest and emotional. Couples connect with the person behind the business and sharing that journey helps them feel comfortable working with you. For me, my story is that I wanted to make the industry more inclusive and save historic buildings.
2. Your Values: What do you stand for? Is it impeccable service, creativity, eco-friendliness, or something else? Communicate these values clearly in your messaging. Personally, I put my values front and center with the name of my business. Fêtewell (‘fet-‘wel) translates to “celebrate fully.” That’s the spirit behind my portfolio of special event venues.
3. Your Brand Voice: Your brand voice is the personality of your services. It should reflect your values and connect with your target audience. Whether you're elegant and sophisticated or casual and rustic, your voice should be consistent across all touchpoints. And don’t forget that our language around weddings can be gendered and non-inclusive. I find this guide helpful.
4. Your Target Audience: You can't be all things to all people. Identify your ideal clients and tailor your brand to their desires and needs. For example, are you targeting luxury clients or DIY clients who want to be hands-on and get creative? Research their preferences, pain points, and aspirations. Understanding your audience is key to creating a brand that resonates.
5. Your Visual Identity: Your visual identity is the face of your brand. It includes your logo, color palette, typography, and overall design. A cohesive visual identity makes your brand memorable.
6. The Company You Keep: Remember the people you work with, whether on your team or other vendors, say a lot about your brand; those relationships can either amplify or detract from your brand and impact your business. Be selective and thoughtful.
7. Adapt: Remember, your brand isn't static. It's a living entity that evolves with your business. Stay true to your values, deliver exceptional service, and continue to adapt to remain relevant. I’ve invested in a brand refresh every couple of years to make sure I’m staying current with not only the industry but my own brand’s evolution.
When you start a wedding business, you quickly realize how many platforms exist. Do your research before joining to make sure that they are aligned with your goals as a brand and will put you in front of your ideal client. Show up consistently on social media, your website, and marketing platforms like Zola so that no matter where potential clients find you, they immediately recognize the experience that you are selling.
1. Choose the right platform for your brand: Not all platforms will be right for your brand, so make sure you’re showing up on ones that align with your target audience. For instance, Instagram and Pinterest are visual-heavy platforms perfect for showcasing wedding venues, while LinkedIn can be valuable for B2B networking. I’ve also found great success marketing on TikTok, but it may not be for everyone.
2. Establish posting standards: Whether you manage your channels yourself or hire a social media manager, make sure you convey your values on social media. For example, because inclusion is a core value for me, I have a standing rule that there must be clients from underrepresented backgrounds in the top 9 on my Instagram grid at all times so couples don’t have to scroll to see themselves represented. I also use an approachable, conversational tone in my venue’s posts.
3. Sign up for Marketing Channels that align with your values: All of my venues are listed on Zola because Zola requires all vendors who advertise on their site to sign the 6-point Zola Vendor Pledge. Just by being on Zola, couples will know your brand vows to respect every couple, be proud to be part of their wedding day and be honest and upfront at all times.
Ultimately, the success of your wedding business hinges on your ability to find the best match and inspire confidence in couples to book your services. You have only a few seconds to convince couples that your business is worth the financial and emotional investment on their big day. Here are some good ways to start:
If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll stand out to no one. The wedding vendors who succeed are known for something and your brand is what you are known for. From your origin story to your online presence, it defines who you are and sets you apart in a crowded market, attracts the right couples, builds a dedicated team, and inspires confidence in your services.
Before potential clients ever meet you, they’ll meet your brand. Your brand is the best tool you have to show clients why they should choose you for their big day. By investing time and care into crafting a brand that represents you and your company consistently across all touchpoints, you’ll have the perfect introduction to your company working 24/7 no matter where potential clients first hear about your business.
Whether you've been in business for years or just getting started, building a robust and authentic brand is a crucial task for any wedding business. It's not just about designing a logo or choosing a color palette; it's about defining who you are, what you stand for, and how you want to be perceived in the market. Use your brand to set yourself apart from competitors and attract the right couples in the right places. It's your brand that speaks volumes before you utter a single word, making it the most powerful tool in your arsenal.
Interested in learning more about how Zola can help you activate and elevate your brand? Create your free listing here or reach out to your vendor experience representative at email@example.com, and we’ll help you get started!