4 Key Components of a Solid Brand Foundation

That’s why your brand strategy should be the foundation of everything you do.

The problem is most businesses skip this important step. They want to get right to the part sexy stuff — creating campaigns to promote your business. But without a strong brand foundation, your marketing efforts will surely crumble.

Elements of a Strong Brand Foundation

So, how do you build a strong brand foundation?

You start with a stellar service or product that your target audience loves. But, once you have that, there are four key ingredients you need for a strong brand foundation:

1. Brand messaging.

The first step to building a strong brand is to solidify your key messages. These messages communicate who you are and what you do as a company.

It’s important to build strong, consistent messaging so prospective customers immediately understand what you’re about and why they should buy from you. You want to communicate the benefits of your company and what makes you different from the other options available.

How to determine your brand’s core messaging

Here are some questions that will help you think through your company’s messaging:

  • Why does your company exist? What change do you want to see in the world? Why did you start your organization? The answer to these questions can help you identify what we call your Core Why.
    Defining a powerful Core Why can help you narrow your focus and help you determine what you stand for as an organization.
  • What is your mission as a company? In other words, what core problem do you solve for your customers?
  • What makes you different? What is something that only your company does? Understanding what makes your organization unique will help you stand out in a sea of competitors.
  • What is your company’s story? Every brand has a story. What is yours? This could be the story of how your company got started or why you exist. People identify with stories. Crafting your story is a powerful way to communicate what your company is about.
  • What are your core values? Your core values demonstrate what you stand for as a company. What do you believe or value above all else? Perhaps you place a priority on responsiveness or
  • What is the personality of your business? Are you professional and serious or laid back and fun? Giving your brand a personality will help you find your company’s voice and hone in on your messaging.

Once you’ve answered these questions, hone them into three or four key messages that you will weave into everything you communicate as a company.

You also might want to consider developing a tagline — a short, snappy statement that communicates the spirit of your brand. For instance, our tagline is “helping business take flight”, which communicates our aspirational persona and brand promise of helping businesses succeed.

Although a tagline isn’t completely necessary, it can be an effective way to succinctly communicate your brand’s message — if you do it right.

2. Cohesive brand identity (or logo).

Once you know your brand’s message, you must establish the visual identity for your brand. This is your company’s logo, which is the visual representation of your brand.

It’s important that your logo effectively communicates your company’s key messages. The design, colors and font choice all play a key role in communicating who you are as a company.

What do you want your logo to say about your company?

For instance, using vintage typography can communicate that you are a time-trusted brand. Or, choosing bright, vibrant colors evokes optimism, cheerfulness and excitement.

Considerations When Designing Your Brand Identity

When developing your brand identity, there are some key questions to ask:

  • Does this visually represent who we are as a company? How does it make people feel when viewing it? And is that what we want people to experience?
  • How does our logo look at different sizes? Will it reproduce well when scaled down to a social media avatar or blown up on a billboard?
  • Will this logo still look good a year or two from now? In other words, will this logo stand the test of time?

Once you’ve solidified your visual branding, it’s important to keep it consistent.

Establishing brand style guidelines will help ensure your logo is used appropriately and not altered for various uses.

After all, a logo is a visual cue to help people remember your company. Using it consistently will improve the recall of your brand and make sure your company is always portrayed the right way.

3. A solid home base.

In addition to nailing down your messaging and logo, you should build a digital “home base” for your company online. This should be a website that you own — not a Facebook page or a blog.

After all, your website is your digital storefront for your company. It’s important that you’re not renting space on someone else’s platform.

In today’s world, there are few companies that don’t need a solid website. Make sure your website delivers your brand promise, visually represents your brand and communicates what you’re about.

And if you want your website to drive leads and sales (and who doesn’t?), here are some of the most important elements your website should include.

4. Company-wide integration.

Once you’ve taken the time to build your brand’s foundation, then you should integrate that into everything you do as a company. Branding should influence how your team answers the phone, the way your products are packaged and even how your office is designed.

Think through how your company can live the brand each and every day. After all, everything is marketing in today’s digital world.

7 Posing Techniques for Non-Models

Not everyone works with models. A lot of photographers have the job of shooting with everyday people and we need to make them look like models. So how do you do that when the subjects have no experience posing or controlling their face for the camera? Here are seven tips to make your portrait subjects feel like models.

1. Pose the Hair

We don’t generally think of hair as a part of the body we can control, but you really can! If you are shooting a subject with long hair, then bad hair is going to be the first thing anyone notices about your photo. There are no rules as to what looks “best” across the board. Everyone will look different with their hair a different way.

Let’s assume you’re doing a basic portrait session without makeup artists and hair stylists. The first thing to remember is that hair sitting on the shoulders looks terrible. If the hair sits on their shoulders, then it looks wild and you need to do something with it. There are five different things that they can do with their hair.

  1. Hair all behind the shoulders.
  2. Hair all in front of the shoulders
  3. Hair all on one side.
  4. Hair all on the other side.
  5. Hair up.

Hair on the shoulders (#1) should be avoided at all costs. All of the other hair positions have their place depending on your model and the look you are trying to achieve. The reason I shot the hair on both sides (#4 and #5) is because the natural part in a person’s hair will lend to one side looking better than the other.

Generally you want their part facing the camera so more of their face is included. For this tutorial, I chose hair up (#6) so we can more easily see the posing instructions without distraction. Many women see ponytails as the “day-off” hair style, but it actually lends itself very nicely in portraits and headshots since you have clean view of their face.

2. Pull the Chin (or Ears) Forward

When someone stands in their normal relaxed stand, or even stands up straight to have nice posture, there is a little bit of flab right underneath their chin. No matter how skinny they are, you will see this. If you tell people to bring their chin forward, which sounds like the sensible thing to do, they will point their chin at you, which brings their face up and ends with you shooting up their nostrils. (Not attractive.) Instead, tell your model to bring their ears forward.


This demonstrates the before and after of telling them to bring their ears forward.


Same before and after from the side. Sometimes I call this “turtling,” because they feel like a turtle coming out of their shell. It is a bit uncomfortable or unnatural, but the results are always worth it.


Same technique from a male subject. He was very fit and athletic, but our natural stance is not very photogenic.

3. Lift the Arm

When people stand naturally, another thing they do is stand with their arms flat at their sides. This causes several problems. First, it makes them look awkward and uncomfortable in the photo. Secondly, their arm presses against their torso. This squishes the arm out and makes it look larger than it actually is.


You can correct that by having them just lift their arm an inch or two so it is “floating” and not pressed against them. Alternatively, you can pose their hand so the arm is in a different position, such as putting their hand on the hip. In the image above, the red line is the size of the arm when standing unposed. The exact same red line was moved over to the second photo so you can see how much smaller the arm becomes when not pressed against the body.

4. Leave Visual Space by the Waist

Everyone loves looking thin. One of the things you can do to trim down your subject is by giving them their “natural” waist, without any additives. What I mean by that is visually isolating the skinny part of the torso so they look as thin as they are. I had my model put her hands on her hips. The first photo shows no further posing. The arm in the back has no space between it and the torso, so it visually extends her mid-section. By having her pull the arm a little forward, you can see the space, so the waist doesn’t have anything adding visual bulk.


The red line shows the visual width of the subject from the first photo. It is replicated in the second photo to show how much width the arm actually adds. This rule does not just apply to arms. Anything that will be in the background of your subject and make them look larger can be an offender. A few examples are other people, tree trunks, or light poles.

5. Turn the Shoulders

This is a very simple tip, but important. If your subject stares at the camera head-on, they look bigger. This can be good when shooting a football player or CEO of a big company, but it is bad when shooting beauty or portraits. By having your subject turn, they are showing a slimmer profile of themselves to the camera, and look slimmer.


The red line shows the full width of the model when standing straight forward. A small turn to the side gives a photo that is still the subject facing the camera, but in a slimmer profile.

6. Don’t Show the Whites of the Eyes

When you want a far off, dreamy look and choose to have your subject look off camera, do not tell them to “look over there.” Give them an object behind you to focus on so you can control their eyeline.


The first photo, I told the model to look out the door next to us. You can see the majority of the white of her eye, which is a bad thing. You want to see the iris, the colored part. I had her look out the window next to the door. That small change in eyeline brings back her eyes, gets rid of the white part, and gives a more attractive portrait.

7. Don’t Let the Nose Break the Face

This one is a bit more complex, but still important. When you don’t want your subject facing forward, you have them turn to the side. Assuming you don’t want a full profile where you only see one side of the face, they will be at a quarter turn with both eyes in frame. If you draw an imaginary line down the side of their face, this line is the line that cannot be crossed by their nose.


If they turn too far and the nose crosses this line, it “breaks” the natural curve of the face. It creates the “pinocchio” effect and extends the length of their nose. You can avoid this by having them turn back toward you slightly, until you can see a little bit of space between the end of their nose, and the side of their face. You don’t want to break that line or it makes them look like they have disproportionate facial features.

Bringing it All Together


Here’s a checklist you can follow for your next shoot.

  • Hair is behind one shoulder, in front of the other
  • Chin is forward to create a strong jawline
  • Arm is lifted from the torso
  • Waist doesn’t have any visual extenders
  • Shoulders are turned
  • Iris is seen over the whites
  • Nose doesn’t break the line of the face

It shouldn’t be that hard to take a good selfie. But we all know that feeling too well: you feel all hot and confident and snap a selfie, eager to send it off to last night’s sexy Tinder date, and surprise — your camera has suddenly become cold and vengeful and refuses to capture you the way you actually look.

You have two options. Keep snapping away aimlessly, taking pictures of yourself, with each selfie worse than the next, until you get frustrated and lose your confidence, or read on for our 13 selfie tips and learn how to take a good selfie, every single time.

13 Must-See Selfie Tips:

We have compiled the 13 commandments for how to take an awesome selfie. But before you read onward, feel free to check out our video tutorial, complete with hands-on selfie action visuals:

1. Tilt Something

Angle your phone slightly up, down or to the side or keep your totally phone still and tilt your head slightly. You can also try tilting both your phone and your head, in which case you’ll look rather silly for a few seconds until you nail down your own winning combo of phone + head + tilt. Whatever you do, taking a selfie straight on is probably not going to result in your best shot and it has nothing to do with your beautiful face. Trust me on this.

Think about it. Way back in the day before camera phones were born, when Ben and Jen were Hollywood’s power couple, we took portraits with ‘real’ cameras from lengths away. Not exactly the ideal process for taking a good selfie.

Today, when you take a selfie, you’re just an arm’s length (literally, your arm’s actual length) away from the camera. When you’re super close to any object (in this case, your face), you see the object much differently than when you’re further away.

Like, if you see someone running off in the distance they look, well, tiny. Now if you were basing your observations strictly on what you see, you might be sure there’s a cat-sized man some distance away from you. But since your brain has built up experience you know that the runner is in fact a full size human and in fact, not a cat.

Not convinced? There’s also the fact that the cylindrical shape of a camera lens can make whatever’s in the middle⁠—usually our nose⁠—appear flatter or wider. Yep, I just said your nose might look bigger. Andddd, that should be enough evidence to make sure you tilt when setting up for a selfie. Let’s move on.

2. Selfie Eyes Matter 

We’re drawn to the eyes of any photo we see. That’s half the charm of the Mona Lisa, right? Even though a lot of communication happens via email and iMessage today, we’re not robots. We’re still searching for that human connection in someone’s eyes.

So, the point is: to take a compelling selfie, focus your eyes on the camera. Directly at the camera, not the phone area in general. If you followed my advice above and wiggled your head and your phone around to find the perfect selfie angle, now you need to freeze, concentrate, and gaze deep into the lens of your smartphone.

If you’re like my mom and have yet to understand exactly where the camera is buried in that sleek, mysterious iPhone attached to your hand, do a few tests to learn where your eyes actually meet the camera.

When taking a selfie, I have friends who pretend they are about to seduce the lens with their eyes. Others try to imagine the moment right before they are about to laugh. In both cases, these friends of mine are trying to soften their eyes and put some human emotion in their expression. A good selfie connects whoever is looking at you, to you, and it’s critical for taking a great selfie.

3. Yep, Lighting Matters Too 

Whether you’re selfie-ing indoors or outside, stay away from harsh lighting, like bright white kitchen lights or direct sunlight. That said, make sure there’s enough light – otherwise your photos can come out blurry and no amount of photo editing later is going to be able fix that.

Selfie near a light source if you’re inside and the room is dark. Ignore the fake smile, this girl clearly didn’t read the section above.


Now, the best time of day to take photos outside is when the sun is lower in the sky, before sunrise and right after sunset. That’s just some essential photography basics for you to chew on right there: I know that no matter how hung up you are on taking a good selfie, you’re not going to wake up before the sun does for it.

5. Hide From The Shadows

You’re looking for the right lighting, but you’ll want to avoid shadows, too. Even if you’ve found the perfect golden hour to snap a selfie: if the shadow of a pole or window blinds cuts across your face, it ain’t cute.

Avoid off-putting shadows by snapping pics in the shade. If you’re taking a post-run selfie and the sun is causing shadow problems, hide out under a shady tree to capture your dewy post-workout glow.

If that’s not doable, angle yourself so the sun is at your back. That prevents shadows and also means you aren’t squinting at the camera from the blinding sun. Oh, and for those of you who are super-extra: you can try a sun diffuser or reflector to manage the shadows.

6. Smile Normal

Remember elementary school picture day? There was always one kid who just couldn’t face the camera with a natural smile. Cue a yearbook photo that haunts everyone’s dreams.

It’s by no means easy mastering a natural smile for the camera. Unnatural smiles are robotic, stiff, not authentic, and sometimes well, creepy. Since this isn’t intuitive for everybody, you may have to practice.

Take a ton of selfies and practice until you find your most natural, photogenic smile: purse your lips in different ways, open your mouth halfway, turn up the corners of your lips slightly, smile wide with all your teeth, try a close-lipped smile. Which smile feels the most “you?” Which smile can you nail without looking?

7. Pump Up The Background

Car selfie. Your blank, white bedroom wall. The mirror of your apartment building lobby. Been there, done that, so. many. times. You don’t need to have a full-on fashion runway in the background, but your background should be interesting.

Whether you’re selfie-ing at the park, your home, or even the grocery store, try to do it against an interesting background. A display of apples at the store can look awesome with the right angle. If you’re not feeling creative in the moment, there are other options. Facetune2’s Backdrop tool allows you to change the background of any photo. Replace your boring background with any of the patterned, sparkly or solid-colored options within the app, or choose your own photo.

That’s right! You can be in your bathroom, but look like you’re at the beach you visited last weekend.

7. Be Confident

You don’t need to have the crazy confidence of a grown man in a fedora, but a good selfie projects an air of confidence. Use body language and a tone that exudes your inner strength.

Get pumped before your selfie sesh. Maybe that means:

    • Doing 10 jumping jacks before your selfie. As long as it won’t ruin your hair, of course.
    • Saying affirmations in the mirror. Is it a little weird? Yeah, but it kinda works. Try saying, “I’m powerful and fearless – and I still can make mistakes,” or something like that. Say it enough that you start to believe it.
    • Standing in a power pose. Stand in front of the mirror with your hands on your hips or folded in front of you. Puff out your chest a little and lift your chin. Stand there for a few minutes to feel like a total superhero badass.


Confidence is something you cultivate and work on, so if you aren’t feeling confident right now, make yourself confident.

8. A Flash Decision

Got flash on? Sometimes it’s a blessing for your selfies, and other times, it’s a freakin’ nightmare.

Flash is infamous for turning people’s eyes red and washing out your skin. Basically, it makes you look like a demon spawn from hell. Unless it’s Halloween, that’s not a cute look.

Flash adds a burst of light to subjects that desperately need it. It’s best to use it when you’re inside, in a dark area, or if there are a lot of shadows.

If you’re still looking possessed when you use flash, try a different angle. You can also try using two flashes: the first dilates your eyes (and prevents red-eye) and the second one is for reals.

9. Know Your Good Side

You’ve already tried tilting your camera every-which-way, but what about your actual pose?

People often have a ‘good side’ – a side of their face they prefer. Which one is yours? Maybe the right side of your face has more freckles that hint at your bubbly personality. Or maybe you hate your right side because the bump on your nose from falling off a skateboard in high school is more apparent.


Choose your good side and try to selfie from that angle. It’ll save you time and retakes – if you’re usually happier with a certain side of your face in the mirror, you’ll also be more happy with it in photos. Do what makes you feel good.

10. Get Inspired

Selfies are hard! Your followers expect to see something exciting and different—how do you keep upping the ante?

You need to feel inspired. If you’re feeling creatively stunted, a dose of celeb selfies is just what the doctor ordered. If you don’t follow some of the Kardashians on Instagram just yet, now’s the time. Take inspiration from the feeds of more local influencers you admire as well.

What are they wearing? What does the caption say? Where is the celeb? How’s their makeup? What angles or lighting are they using? A little recon (and mimicking) will help you learn how to take good selfies in no time.

11. Try Portrait Mode

How do you take a good selfie with nothing but an iPhone? Fortunately for you, the iPhone comes complete with a fancy portrait-specific feature that make glamorous selfies a breeze.

Portrait mode focuses on the person in the photo, and defocuses the background – creating a professional look with minimal effort. You can choose from various options, like Natural, Studio, or Contour which add different kinds of light or drama, some even compliment with a touch of skin smoothing. Switch things up and see how your selfie comes out in Portrait mode.

12. Facetune Is Your Selfie’s BFF

Oh, you knew this one was coming. There’s a reason Facetune and Facetune2 have been at the top of the charts on the App Store since the brand emerged in 2013, and now there’s even a Facetune Video app, for selfie videos. It doesn’t make you weak, it doesn’t make you ugly. It makes you a master selfie taker. Taking a good selfie becomes easier than ever. Let’s talk about why.

With a selfie editor app, you simply get better selfies. You can swipe away a pimple because your skin has waged war on you this week. You can conceal your dark circles because you binged on Netflix until 4am. With Facetune2, you can use the Reshape tool to adjust your features, if you ignored my advice about tilting and came out with a jawline or a nose wider than space. Let’s face it, photos live on IG way longer than blemishes live on your face, so I choose to just swipe them away.

If you’re feeling particularly creative, or self expressive, you can get, well, creative or self-expressive with your selfies. Facetune2 has a tool called Neon which adds a colorful glow around to your photo, similar to the gel filters that are used in high-fashion photoshoots these days.

There’s also a Defocus tool, where you tap once and the background is blurred around your face, taking your selfie one step closer to a professional headshot and one step further from the messy room selfie it really is.

13. Practice Makes A Perfect Selfie

Knowledge is power, and now that you know how to take the perfect selfie, you can take on any bad skin day, defocus any trashy background (bar bathroom selfie, I’m talking to you), and empower yourself with an awesome selfie that’ll make you feel like a rockstar. The more you do it, the better you’ll get, and soon you’ll be able to nail your best angle effortlessly.


How to Leave Your Photos to Someone When You Die

LEAVING YOUR FAMILY photos to your children, grandchildren, and extended clan used to be easy—you went and died, and they would find the albums gathering dust in your attic or tucked away in a drawer. Sure, there were a lot of terrible holiday snapshots to sort through, but there were always some treasured photos to be kept in a wallet, framed beside a bed, or pinned to a dart board.

Now though, things are trickier. Most people’s photos are kept on their smartphones, locked away behind passwords and encryption. (There are typically also tens of thousands of them.) If in two years you were to find your departed mother’s smartphone in a drawer, what are the odds you’d remember her iCloud password?

Things aren’t a lot better with photos on social media. Services like Facebook and Instagram compress the hell out of your high-quality uploads. They appear fine on a screen, but print them out to keep on your desk and they look a mess. It’s kind of ridiculous that your smartphone captures significantly higher-quality images than a point-and-shoot from the ’80s, but if you try to print a photo you shared to Instagram, you’d be better off with a daguerreotype. (Also, there’s no guarantee Facebook will be a going concern in 20 years’ time. RIP MySpace. RIP Bebo.)

So, if you want to make sure your children can have their childhood photos after you pass, it’s something you need to think about now.

The Cop Out: Leave Your Entire Digital Life Behind
Enough people have been locked out of a dead parents’ device that Apple and Google have now made it possible for you to grant posthumous access.

The lucky owners of Nikon’s flagship Z 9 can now get even more from their new camera with firmware 1.10

The latest firmware update enhances the camera’s high speed continuous shooting. Shoot at 20fps in high efficiency Raw and JPEG Basic (L) JPEGs and you can now get a burst lasting 15secs instead of 3secs as with the previous firmware.

The new firmware is available to download now. A future update will add more video functions and give further improvements to stills and video shooting.

For more information, visit Nikon’s website.

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