For over 11 years, Townsville based marketing consultant and photographer, Sonia Warrell has been a trusted ‘gatekeeper’ of corporate branding. With over 22 years’ photography experience, Sonia has always leaned heavily on her visual arts skillset for creation and delivery of consistent and compelling visual marketing. So much so, that she is now the founder of Hello Muse, an individualised marketing and photography service that helps businesses grow and connect with clarity and purpose. We sat down with Sonia to learn more about the inspiration behind her work and how visual marketing is the key to purposeful business growth.
1. What was the inspiration behind starting Hello Muse?
I noticed a gap in the market for local businesses to access strategic marketing advice as opposed to paid advertising services. I talked with business owners and found that many of them felt overwhelmed by their marketing because they were busy running their day-to-day operations. I learned that many operators were paying for advertising that was untargeted, and commonly, many said they needed to get onto social media because, ‘that’s what everyone is doing and I should do it too, right?’ So, I found myself with the strategic marketing planning and visual marketing creation skills in a prime position to help businesses deliver on their vision.
2. What role do visuals play in creating successful and purposeful marketing?
Imagery can stir our emotions and communicate an idea at a glance; and because of how we process visual information, it’s easier for us to commit to memory and recall than verbal or written information. Since visual marketing can instantly change our mood and leave a lasting impression, it’s a powerful medium for brands to convey the values they stand for, or the intangible benefits of their product or service.
This is why I place brand personality at the centre of my photography design conversations – all of the characteristics, qualities and values that are conveyed through the final suite of brand images, is by design, not by accident. “Little details, big feels” is how I like to think about what I do.
3. You work with many local businesses in the region, helping them grow their brands through purposeful and visual marketing strategies. What’s the most inspirational part of your work?
When I’m learning more about a business and my client is telling me about what they do there is a moment that I see the passion they have for their business. That’s the moment I take notice of – it tells me so much, about how connected that person is to their business and their customers; how much it all means to them. In that moment I know that the clarity and direction I can provide will fuel that fire.
4. What’s the first step you take when trying to help them create purposeful marketing that aligns with their voice?
Every Hello Muse project begins with a conversation – the first step in my process to deliver purposeful marketing. There’s a very good chance our first meeting will be over coffee to encourage relaxed discussion about what matters most to the brand. I want to get to know the business well, so that everything I do is based on a deep understanding of what it stands for and the vision for the future of the business. That discussion helps me to understand the ideal customer for the business and identify the strategic priorities of the business. I then tailor specific marketing activities that go hand in hand with the unique customer experience that the brand already provides. Sometimes, a simple adjustment to an existing process can greatly impact brand loyalty.
5. What advice would you give to those who are trying to cultivate their brand but are not sure where to start?
You know, it’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day running of a business that we can forget to stop and remember why we started in business in the first place. Going back to your purpose, reconnecting with your reason for doing what you do, is a great place to start. From here you can take stock of everything you’ve achieved so far, you can learn from things you tried that didn’t quite work, and you can set new goals for your business. Reassess what you know about your customers, audiences, and the platforms they engage with. Determine which tools are driving your results and drop the ones that are holding you back.
A really great way to view your business is through the lens of your customer. Ask yourself why your customers use your brand and why they keep coming back? Mentally put yourself in your customer’s shoes and run through what it’s like doing business with you. Doing this will help you to identify where you can add a touch of delight, inject more of your brand personality and turn your customers into more loyal brand advocates. Sometimes, taking a look at things from a fresh angle can be enlightening. A marketing expert looking in from the outside, could provide you with new opportunities. If you don’t know where to start, say hello, and let’s go meet your market.