Building a Brand That Gives Back

Building a Brand That Gives Back

Building a Brand That Gives Back with Sweet Nectar Society

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Most​ ​of​ ​us​ ​don’t​ ​begin​ ​our​ ​photography​ ​journey​ ​with​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​that​ ​we​ ​might​ ​use​ ​our​ ​talents​ ​for​ ​a​ ​better purpose. ​Our​ ​ability​ ​to​ ​make​ ​time​ ​stand​ ​still,​ ​to tell​ ​a​ ​story​ ​without​ ​words,​ ​to capture​ ​an​ ​idea​ ​that​ ​might​ ​not​ ​be​ ​so​ ​clear​ ​to​ ​the​ ​average​ ​eye,​ ​draws​ ​us​ ​here.​ ​It​ ​inspires​ ​us ​and​ ​challenges​ ​us to​ ​do​ ​more.​ ​If​ ​the​ ​idea​ ​has​ ​crossed​ ​your​ ​mind​ ​that​ ​you​ ​might​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​a​ ​service​ ​that​ ​goes​ ​beyond ​​taking​ ​photos,​ ​keep​ ​reading to learn​ ​what​ ​goes​ ​into​ ​building​ ​a​ ​brand​ ​that​ ​gives​ ​back.

Sweet​ ​Nectar​ ​Society​ ​was started​ ​by​ ​two​ ​photographers​ ​with​ ​heart​.​ ​Our​ ​focus​ ​was​ ​on medically​ ​fragile children,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​goal​ ​was​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​as​ ​many​ ​free​ ​sessions​ ​to​ ​families​ ​as​ ​we could.​ ​What​ ​did​ ​we​ ​want the​ ​brand​ ​to​ ​convey?​ ​Hope,​ ​courage​ ​and​ ​strength—a simple​ ​concept​ ​with​ ​an​ ​incredibly​ ​meaningful​ ​mission.

We​ ​have​ ​spent​ ​countless​ ​hours​ ​working​ ​on​ ​our​ ​brand—everything​ ​from​ ​identifying​ ​our​ ​purpose,​ ​to​ ​networking​ ​and​ ​building relationships,​ ​to​ ​becoming​ ​a​ ​recognizable​ ​symbol​ ​in​ ​our​ ​community.​ ​Before​ ​our​ ​organization​ ​took​ ​flight​, ​we had​ ​to​ ​establish​ ​every​ ​detail,​ ​including​​ ​behind​-the​-​scenes​ ​administrative​ ​aspects​ ​of​ ​running​ ​a​ ​charity​ ​and then​ photo​ ​style,​ ​color​ ​scheme​ ​and​ ​everything​ ​in​ ​between.​ ​We were​ ​laser-focused​ ​on​ ​the​ concept of​ ​giving through​ ​the​ ​art​ ​of​ ​photography.

Whether​ ​you​ ​want​ ​to​ ​give​ ​by​ ​creating​ ​your​ ​own​ ​nonprofit​​ ​or​ ​by​ ​aligning​ ​your​ ​business​ ​with​ ​an existing​ ​cause,​ ​we’d​ ​like​ ​to​ ​share​ ​with​ ​you​ ​some​ ​insights​ ​based​ ​on​ ​our​ ​experiences​.

Cause​:​ ​Identify​ ​Why You Want​ ​to​ ​Build a Brand That Gives​ ​Back

There’s no shortage of causes.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​feel​ ​passionately​ ​about​ ​a​ ​cause​, ​then​ ​you​ ​are​ ​qualified​ ​to give.​ ​Whether​ ​it​ ​is​ ​by​ ​donating​ ​your​ ​time,​ ​offering​ ​your​ ​talent​ ​or​ ​contributing​ ​monetarily,​ ​you​ ​can make​ ​a​ ​difference.​ ​It’s as easy​ ​as​ ​that. ​A​ ​little​ ​heart ​goes​ ​a​ ​long​ ​way.

Pablo​ ​Picasso​ ​once​ ​said,​ ​“The​ ​meaning​ ​of​ ​life​ ​is​ ​to​ ​find​ ​your​ ​gift.​ ​The​ ​purpose​ ​of​ ​life​ ​is​ ​to give​ ​it​ ​away.”​ ​We​ ​found​ ​our​ ​gift​ ​in​ ​photography.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​a​ ​fulfilling​ ​experience​ ​to​ ​capture​ ​our​ ​clients​’ ​stories​ ​and then​ ​give ​them​ ​something​ ​tangible​ ​that will help them​ ​remember​ ​moments​ ​in​ ​time.​ ​

We​ ​cared about​ ​medically​ ​fragile​ ​children, ​and​ ​wanted to tell​ ​their​ ​stories,​ ​which often​ ​go​ ​unheard.​ ​We​ ​find​ ​it​​ ​inspiring​ ​and​ ​rewarding.​ ​Families​ ​often tell​ ​us​ ​that​ ​the​ ​photographs​ ​we​ ​took​ ​of​ ​their​ ​child​ ​are​ ​the​ ​only​ ​photos​ ​they​ ​have,​ ​and sometimes​ ​they​ ​are​ ​the​ ​last​ ​images​ ​they​ ​will ever have of their loved ones.​ ​Stories​ ​like​ ​these​ ​​fuel​ ​our​ ​fire​ ​and​ ​motivate​ ​our​ ​team​ ​to​ ​share​ ​their​ ​gifts​ ​with​ ​Sweet​ ​Nectar.

Commitment:​ ​Understand​ ​Your​ ​Intentions

It​ ​takes​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​heart​ ​and​ ​​time​ ​to​ ​maintain​ ​a​ ​nonprofit​ ​organization​ ​and​ ​stay​ ​committed​ ​to ​a cause.​ ​We​ ​encourage​ ​anyone​ ​considering​ ​a​ ​partnership​ ​with​ ​a​ ​charity​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​you​ ​are​ ​emotionally invested​ ​in​ ​the​ ​cause​ ​first.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​easy​ ​to​ ​lose​ ​focus​ ​and​ ​fizzle​ ​out​ ​over​ ​time​ ​if​ ​you​ ​do​ ​not​ ​believe in​ ​the​ ​purpose or do not​ ​feel​ ​a​ ​​connection,​ ​or​ ​if​ ​it​ ​does​ ​not​ ​align​ ​with​ ​your​ ​brand.

From​ ​a​ ​charity’s​ ​operational​ ​standpoint,​ ​the​ ​commitment​ ​of​ ​others​ ​is​ ​vital​ ​to​ ​maintaining​ ​a​ ​productive workflow.​ ​Unfortunately,​ ​staying committed is hard.​ ​Life​ ​gets​ ​busy​ ​and duties get​ ​put​ ​on​ ​the​ ​backburner.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​have​ ​invested​ ​your​ ​time,​ ​energy​ ​and​ ​resources​ ​in​ ​something​ ​you believe​ ​in,​ ​you​ ​will be​ ​dedicated​ ​long​ ​term.​ ​

There​ ​is​ ​no​ ​time like​ ​the​ ​present.​ ​If​ ​your​ ​heart​ ​is​ ​pulling​ ​you​ ​to​ ​give,​ ​do it.​ ​There​ ​will​ ​never​ ​be​ ​a​ ​better​ ​time​ ​than​ ​now​ ​to volunteer,​ ​donate​ ​or​ ​start​ ​up​ ​your​ ​vision​ ​of​ ​giving.​ ​Regardless​ ​of​ ​the​ ​time​ ​or​ ​dollar amount​ ​you​ ​are​ ​able​ ​to​ ​give,​ ​it​ ​is important​ ​to​ ​remember​ ​that​ ​every​ ​minute​ ​is​ ​impactful,​ ​every​ ​dollar​ ​counts,​ ​every​ ​commitment​ ​makes​ ​a difference.​ ​Start​ ​small,​ ​and​ ​watch​ ​your​ ​vision​ ​go​ ​from​ ​there.​ ​Start​ ​giving​ ​and​ ​see​ ​where​ ​that​ ​opportunity​ ​leads you.​ ​You​ ​won’t​ ​know​ ​exactly​ ​how​ ​you​ ​will​ ​feel​ ​until​ ​you​ ​get​ ​out​ ​there​ ​and​ ​start​ ​connecting,​ ​so​ ​take​ ​a​ ​step​ ​and see​ ​where the​ ​journey​ ​takes you.

Another​ ​major​ ​factor​ ​to​ ​consider​ ​is​ ​​your​ ​motivation.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​are​ ​expecting​ ​something​ ​​in​ ​return​,​ ​then​ ​you​ ​probably​ ​do not​ ​have​ ​charity’s​ ​best​ ​interest​ ​in​ ​mind.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​not​ ​the​ ​right​ ​cause​ ​for​ ​you​.​ ​You should be thinking about​ ​what​ ​you​ ​can​ ​provide​ ​for​ ​others,​ ​​not​ ​the other​ ​way​ ​around.​ ​Nelson​ ​Mandela​ ​said​ ​it​ ​best: ​“There​ ​can​ ​be​ ​no​ ​greater​ ​gift​ ​than​ ​that​ ​of​ ​giving​ ​one’s​ ​time and​ ​energy​ ​to​ ​help​ ​others​ ​without​ ​expecting​ ​anything​ ​in​ ​return.”​ ​

We​ ​encourage​ ​you​ ​to​ ​give​ ​with​ ​the intention​ ​of​ ​making​ ​a​ ​difference​ ​rather​ ​than​ ​expecting​ ​to​ ​be​ ​rewarded.​ ​At Sweet​ ​Nectar​ ​Society,​ ​we​ ​are​ ​rewarded​ ​in​ ​abundance​ ​with​ ​the​ ​pure​ ​love​ ​and​ ​thankfulness​ ​from​ ​our​ ​Sweeties and​ ​their​ ​families.​ ​The​ ​gifts​ ​they​ ​have​ ​given​ ​us​ ​go​ ​far​ ​beyond​ ​fame,​ ​monetary​ ​rewards​ ​or​ ​validation.​ ​With​ ​an honest,​ ​giving​ ​heart,​ ​you​ ​will​ ​receive​ ​so​ ​much​ ​more​ ​than​ ​you​ ​can​ ​ever​ ​give​,​ ​we​ ​promise​ ​you​ ​that.

Connection:​ ​Invest​ ​in​ ​Relationships​ ​That​ ​Matter

If​ ​you​ ​are​ ​in​ ​the​ ​market​ ​to​ ​start​ ​giving​ ​your​ ​services​ ​to​ ​a​ ​group,​ ​start​ ​networking​ ​and​ ​making meaningful​ ​connections.​ ​Building​ ​relationships​ ​that​ ​last​ ​is​ ​imperative​ ​to​ ​​any​ ​business. These​ ​relationships​ ​​give​ ​you​ ​a​ ​better​ ​understanding​ ​of​ ​the​ ​people​ ​you​ ​serve,​ ​the​ ​community​ ​you​ ​reach and​ ​the​ ​obstacles​ ​you​ ​​run​ ​into.​ ​

Once​ ​we​ ​started​ ​giving​ ​our​ ​Sweeties​ ​photo​ ​sessions​ ​and​ ​learning​ ​of​ ​their journeys,​ ​we​ ​immersed​ ​ourselves​ ​in​ ​their​ ​communities.​ ​We​ ​nurtured​ ​our connections​ ​with​ ​their​ ​loved​ ​ones,​ ​built​ ​working​ ​relationships​ ​with​ ​their​ ​doctors,​ ​nurses​ ​and​ ​teachers,​ ​then partnered​ ​with​ ​other​ ​charities​ ​that​ ​​dedicate​ ​their​ ​time​ ​to​ ​our​ ​Sweeties.​ ​We​ ​were​ ​not​ ​forming​ ​these bonds​ ​because​ ​we​ ​had​ ​to,​ ​but​ ​because​ ​we​ ​generally​ ​care​ ​about​ ​our​ ​kids​ ​and​ ​their​ ​wellbeing.​ ​

By ​building​ ​these​ ​relationships,​ ​we​ ​are​ ​able​ ​to​ ​better​ ​serve​ ​and​ ​reach​ ​more​ ​families,​ ​and build​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​brand​ ​with​ ​a​ ​firm​ ​foundation​ ​based​ ​on​ ​giving.

If you want​ ​to​ ​contribute​ ​to​ ​an​ ​existing​ ​charity,​ ​do​ ​your homework.​ ​Make​ ​sure​ ​the​ ​organization’s​ ​values​ ​and​ ​direction​ ​line​ ​up​ ​with​ ​your​ ​business​ ​model,​ ​and​ ​that​ ​it​ ​is something​ ​you​ ​strongly​ ​believe​ ​in.​ ​As​ ​a​ ​small​ ​nonprofit​, ​we​ ​rely​ ​on​ ​donations​ ​from​ ​our​ ​community​ ​and​ ​our colleagues,​ ​and​ ​appreciate​ ​any​ ​form​ ​of​ ​support​.​ ​When​ ​we​ ​were​ ​just​ ​starting​ ​out​ ​and had​ ​zero​ ​funds​,​ ​we​ ​reached​ ​out​ ​to​ ​Bay​ ​Photo​ ​Lab​ ​and​ ​Pixieset​ ​about​ ​our​ ​mission.​ ​It encouraged​ ​us​ ​​when​ ​they​ ​​supported​ ​us​ ​with​ ​products​ ​and​ ​services.​ ​Years​ ​later,​ ​we​ ​are​ ​still​ ​filled​ ​with​ ​gratitude​ ​by​ ​their​ ​ongoing​ ​generosity.​ ​Every​ ​chance we​ ​get​ ​to​ ​highlight​ ​their​ ​businesses​ ​or​ ​direct​ ​clients​ ​to​ ​them,​ ​we​ ​do​ ​so,​ ​even​ ​though​ ​they​ ​do​ ​not​ ​expect anything​ ​in​ ​return.

If​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​​know​ ​where​ ​to​ ​start,​ ​begin​ ​by​ ​​sharing​ ​your​ ​ideas​.​ ​Ask​ ​for​ ​feedback and suggestions.​ ​Talk​ ​to​ ​people​ ​you respect and ​trust.​ ​You’d​ ​be​ ​surprised​ ​how​ ​one​ ​small​ ​idea​ ​can spring​ ​into​ ​action.​ ​The​ ​world​ ​has​ ​a​ ​way​ ​of​ ​opening​ ​doors​ ​like​ ​that.​ ​A​ ​few​ ​spontaneous​ ​sessions turned​ ​into​ ​a​ ​hundred,​ ​which​ ​a​ ​little​ ​over​ ​five​ ​years​ ​later​ ​has​ ​turned​ ​into​ ​almost​ ​600—​all because​ ​of a​ ​conversation​ ​with​ ​a​ ​like​-minded​ ​photographer​ ​about​ ​an​ ​idea​ ​to​ ​give​ ​back.

Consistency:​ ​Build​ ​a​ ​Strong​ ​Following

We​ ​don’t​ ​just​ ​photograph​ ​our​ ​clients. We​ ​invite​ ​them​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​part​ ​of​ ​our​ ​movement.​ ​Giving these kids the​ ​“Sweetie” moniker​ ​makes​ ​them​ ​part​ ​of​ ​a​ ​club​ ​of brave​ ​children​ ​who​ ​defy​ ​odds,​ ​never​ ​give​ ​up ​and​ ​inspire​ ​others.​ ​We​ ​want​ ​them​ ​to​ ​feel​ ​like​ ​they​ ​are part​ ​of​ ​a​ ​bigger​ ​purpose.​ ​Everyone​ ​who​ ​knows​ ​this​ ​child​ ​and​ ​has​ ​seen their​ ​journey​ ​feels​ ​the​ ​same​ ​way,​ ​and​ ​shares​ ​the​ ​same​ ​sense​ ​of​ ​pride.​ ​​We​ ​follow​ ​up​ ​with​ ​them​ ​on social​ ​media, invite​ ​them​ ​to​ ​our​ ​events​ ​and​ show​ ​our​ ​appreciation​ ​​for​ ​letting​ ​us​ ​​be a​ ​small​ ​part​ ​of​ ​their​ ​story.​ ​We​ ​truly​ ​care,​ ​and​ ​put​ ​our​ ​all​ ​into​ ​showing​ ​our​ ​audience​ ​what​ ​makes​ ​these kids​ ​so​ ​great.

Creating​ ​a​ ​strong,​ ​recognizable​ ​brand​ ​will​ ​set​ ​up your​ ​organization​ ​for​ ​success.​ ​We​ ​pay​ ​close attention​ ​to​ ​ensure​ ​every​ ​photo,​ ​post​ ​and​ ​product​ ​we​ ​attach​ ​our​ ​logo​ ​to​ ​has​ ​the​ ​same​ ​high​ ​quality​ ​and style.​ ​The​ ​care​ ​and​ ​consideration​ ​we​ ​pay​ ​to​ ​these​ ​details​ ​gives our​ ​supporters​ ​​a​ ​feeling​ ​of security​ ​knowing​ ​our​ ​Sweeties​ ​are​ ​receiving​ ​the​ ​very​ ​best.​ ​When​ ​our​ ​followers​ ​log​ ​on to​ ​their​ ​social media​ ​accounts​ ​and​ ​notice​ ​our​ ​little​ ​hummingbird​ ​logo,​ ​they​ ​immediately​ ​know​ ​what​ ​to​ ​expect:​ ​a beautiful​ ​image​ ​of​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​and​ ​brave​ ​Sweetie.​ ​Donors​ ​know​ ​these​ ​kids​ ​will​ ​receive​ ​galleries​ ​of images ​and​ ​a​ ​special​ ​book​ ​made​ ​possible​ ​by​ ​their​ ​support.

This​ ​endeavor​ ​includes​ ​brand​ ​recognition.​ ​We​ ​want​ ​our​ ​name​ ​well​ ​known​ ​in​ ​our​ ​community,​ ​and​ ​use every​ ​available​ ​resource​ ​​to​ ​achieve​ ​that.​ ​We show​ ​up​ ​at​ ​events​ ​that​ ​relate​ ​to​ ​our​ ​charity, volunteer​ ​our​ ​talents​ ​to​ ​like​-minded​ ​organizations,​ ​get ​our​ ​story​ ​told​ ​on​ ​the radio,​ on ​television ​and in newspapers.​ ​We leave our fliers every​ ​place​ ​that​ ​might​ ​interact​ ​with​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our​ ​kids.​ ​Doctor’s​ ​offices​ ​have​ ​photos​ ​of​ ​the​ ​children we​ ​photograph​ ​hanging​ ​on​ ​their​ ​walls,​ ​which​ ​we​ ​provide​ ​free.​ ​Even​ ​though​ ​we​ ​are​ ​not​ ​for profit,​ ​we​ ​still​ ​need​ ​to​ ​invest​ ​in​ ​marketing​ ​our​ ​brand​ ​to​ ​the​ ​right​ ​audience,​ ​not​ ​only​ ​to​ ​help​ ​with sponsorships,​ ​but​ ​to​ ​foster​ ​the​ ​belief​ ​in​ ​what​ ​we​ ​are​ ​doing​ ​and​ ​find​ ​people​ ​who​ ​are​ ​willing​ ​to​ ​come along​ ​for​ ​the​ ​ride.​ ​We​ ​want​ ​our​ ​name​ ​and​ ​brand​ ​to​ ​be​ ​well​ ​known​ ​and​ ​spoken​ ​often.

Finding​ ​the​ ​drive​ ​and​ ​ability​ ​to​ ​give​ ​back​ ​doesn’t​ ​​happen​ ​overnight.​ ​Having​ ​a​ ​clear​ ​plan will​ ​help​ ​carry​ ​your​ ​idea​ ​into​ ​action.​ ​Thoroughly​ ​think​ ​things​ ​out and​ ​make​ ​a​ ​plan​ ​for​ ​both​ ​your​ ​giving​ ​and​ ​your​ ​time. Go​ ​into​ ​it​ ​with​ ​as​ ​much​ ​information​ ​and​ ​support​ ​as you can get.​ Study how​ ​​successful charities​ ​do what they do.​ ​Connect​ ​with​ ​others​ ​who​ ​share​ ​the​ ​same​ ​desire to give.​ ​Talk​ ​with​ ​​people​ ​who​ ​are​ ​in​ in​ need.​ ​Gather​ ​your experiences​ ​and​ ​go​ ​forth​ ​with​ ​​positivity.​ ​

The​ ​world​ ​needs​ people who are willing​ ​to​ ​put​ ​it​ ​all on​ ​the​ ​line​ ​to make​ ​just​ ​one​ ​person’s​ ​day​ ​better.​ ​We​ ​can all​ ​help. ​We can all​ ​change​ ​lives​ ​if​ ​we​ ​only​ ​look​ ​within​ ​ourselves​ and find ​the​ ​strength,​ ​hope​ ​and courage​ ​to​ ​try.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Amber Elliott

    Such a wonderful article! You mentioned the free sessions & complimentary album paid for via donations. How can a Photographer afford to give away product if they don’t form a charity? I love this idea & want to do this type of work. What has stopped me is figuring out what happens after the free session; I’m not a shoot & burn photographer but do I do that for this type of situation or do I offer product for cost?? Is there something I have failed to consider short of forming my own charitable organization? Thank you!

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