Photographer, architecture graduate and founder of fashitects.com, Vietnam native, London based, Toni Tran has built a creative career centred around his vivid architectural background. With a focus on showcasing experiences through lifestyle, travel and fashion based content, we asked him to share his thoughts on developing his profession as a creator with influence.
Building Brand Relationships and Professionalism
As creators, it is important to be professional and treat your work like a business from the outset.
We all have to start somewhere, and building a database of contacts and collecting countless business cards is an effective way to lay your foundations. Your presence, profile and personality will be remembered - maintaining a professional tone is crucial when responding to clients.
You are the sole ambassador of your content; protect and elevate it.
Contacting profiles through direct messaging can be an easy shortcut when trying to grow your content. However, due to saturation, it isn't always the most effective way to get a personal response. If you do reach out to a brand, your choice of language should be relative to the brand's usual tone of voice - particularly if you're looking to build long-term relationships.
Transparency and Longevity
With advertising regulations being enforced by the CMA & ASA, it is now more important than ever to state brand collaborations with #ad.
Stating this information is crucial as influencers and professionals. Remaining authentic to your audience, and consistently meeting the rules and requirements of social media advertising will protect your account and sweeten your success.
Build brand relationships for the longer term and be selective with the type of brands that are valuable to you. The market is competitive, so building authentic and organic partnerships will open bigger doors in the future. Make sure to meet deadlines, create quality content and work that both the client and yourself are proud of.
Creating Unique Content
Let’s imagine you are given the opportunity to collaborate on a campaign for a client.
Think of this as an opportunity to open further doors along the line. Instead of taking the easy route, make this your chance to explore and think outside the box. Put more effort into thinking about the concept, the story and translating your vision through imagery, video, cinema-graphs and stop motions.
Learn a few tricks of the trade by researching the brand, investing your resources in equipment and style the props. Get together a mood board, focus on inspirational imagery, desirable textures and relevant information. Finding different locations will also take the content further. Be adventurous and show the architecture behind your style in your imagery.
The unique advantage is your personal storytelling ability. Plan, process, effort and time spent on each collaborative piece will result in work that you and the brand will be proud of.
Case Study: Grand Marnier
I was invited to Paris to experience and attend the Grand Marnier Alchemy Event. The brand collaboration was a perfect fit, as I had used the French Cognac and bitter orange liqueur in my cocktails at home before. For a project such as this, I always start with brainstorming a mood board that fits in line with the brand and the lifestyle I naturally portray.
It is always vital to plan locations in advance, such as using the hotel for a potential shoot or looking into the surrounding locations to see if they may fit into the brief. Planning ahead allows for fewer compromises for your content.
In this case, the brief's hashtag #LiveGrand represented living elegantly and showcasing a lifestyle above and beyond. I brought props over in my suitcase; such as the large cards, red romantic roses and several outfit changes - which fit in well with the overall cocktails and entertainments theme. Paris is very sensual, elegant and sophisticated. The art direction of the scattered cards on the floor and continuation the rouge flowing tones was inspired by the red wax stamp and ribbon on the packaging.
What will make you stand out, is your craftsmanship, an ability to consistently come up with innovative ideas and be known for your particular style. Whether it is through a distinct photographical style, understanding the purpose behind each photo shoot or the editing process - honing in on your strengths will differentiate yourself from other creatives.
Some may take social platforms more seriously than others. I mean, if you can turn your lifestyle into a job, then why not? It is more than just posting pictures. We invest so much of our time creating and researching.
The consistent battle of Instagram's algorithm challenge our mindsets. When do we post? How come no one is seeing my content? Why do I see people’s posts from two days ago?
With millions of people posting every other second, it is pretty hard to stand out, and let’s be honest, no one has the time to consider posting quality content every single day. The amount of preparation that goes into each piece, planning content days ahead, and then wondering if the content will even do any good is incredibly time and energy consuming. It's no surprise that experts like bloggers and influencers are able to capitalise on this.
So why is it harder to get noticed on Instagram? The more you like, comment, save and engage on something, the more you see it. It’s kind of like hanging out with the cool popular kids, they are the trendsetters and are what other people look up to. Instagram decides if the post is worth being seen to reach a bigger audience in the first few seconds of it being posted, hence we all hope to get into the 'hot feed'.
Our opinions are valuable in order to engage and interact honestly by supporting creators in the industry. We live in a society where we use our screen time to scroll consistently and pick up our phones when there is a notification. That feeling of importance, satisfaction and even our competitive emotions comes into play. The only way to beat this algorithm is to post consistently and build a valuable community and connection with your audience. Sponsored content will help with reaching a larger audience, based on demographic making your profile seen by newer accounts.
Most importantly, stay original, keep pushing your creative boundaries and be professional.
Words by Toni Tran, @fashitect