How to use photography to reinforce your brand
All too often, the imagery in branding and marketing is a poor after thought. An ill-thought out, rushed part of the process that involves scrabbling around stock libraries, trying to find an image – any image – to use to break up the text.
What a waste!
A waste of 'real estate' on your website or in your advertising campaign and a waste of opportunity to engage your target audience through reinforcing your brand with well-conceived, relevant, high quality supporting imagery.
Make imagery a priority
Don't treat the pictures as an after-thought. Successful advertising and marketing ideas incorporate both messages and images right from the outset. The most effective marketing campaigns I've worked on are where creative professionals; web and graphic designers and writers, have bought me in early in the process.
Originality and authenticity
Your brand is individual. It's a visual depiction of your proposition - your unique selling points, business values, business 'personality', how you change the world and improve the lives of customers.
It is likely you'll have a business strapline. A unique company logo. A colour scheme. A certain tone of voice employed in all your marketing communications.
But are you accompanying this branding with unoriginal stock shots, which will be used by many other businesses (possibly including your competitors)? Are you settling for bland, generic or cliched imagery - common ones including jigsaw puzzle pieces or handshakes, which add no value to your brand?
As a commercial photographer, my professional photography has been used to truly enhance business brands and marketing campaigns.
And this is how it can be done.
Like any profession, talent and experience will vary widely. Commercial photography is a specialist skill, requiring the photographer to have a strong understanding of business and marketing. They will be able to get under the skin of the company and creatively devise a photographic style which is on brand. Whether it’s a sole trader having profile shots, a business having photography to showcase products, venues or services, or part of a creative campaign; strategic, creative thinking and working with other professionals will be a key part of the photography project. Check the photographer’s portfolio for skills in bespoke commercial photography before going ahead.
Colour is an obvious and well-recognised aspect of any business’s corporate brand. And there are ways of bringing this out through creative, clever planning and production. For example, I may work with a client on wearing certain colours for a profile photoshoot which are in line with their corporate brand. Or I may saturate certain colours or have a bold black and white look, highlighting one colour.
Bespoke commercial photography has the beauty of being able to bring out personality. If a business is known for quirkiness, fun and warmth, a serious boardroom stock shot will not reflect the brand. The setting, lighting, expressions used can all influence how the personality and values of the company come across. I frequently work with my clients to help bring their personalities into photoshoots, through putting them at ease and finding out what makes them tick.
Having your own suite of photographs created for your business or advertising campaign means keeping control of the look and feel. This is incredibly difficult to achieve with stock shots. Maintaining the same themes, backgrounds, styling and editing of all imagery will build brand recognition among your target audience.
Investing in commercial photography will enable you to be innovative, creative and adopt latest trends and ideas into your brand. For example, combining graphic design or typography into photography, going for a bold and bright colour scheme, using collage, incorporating a retro feel, bringing out textures and patterns can position you as an on trend, contemporary brand looking to make your mark, explore new ideas and push boundaries.
All advertising campaigns have at their heart an objective of engaging their audience. Depending on the products, services, business brand and campaign idea, this engagement may be induced in a variety of ways. It might be through humour. Through emotion. Through inspiration. Through shock and awe. Through education. Whatever it is, the imagery needs to be powerful if it’s to be effective. A commercial photographer will have the skills to take the brief and not just photograph the subject, but do so in a way that’s evokes the right emotion – making your brand all the more memorable, original and impactful.
No two brand stories are the same. And audiences now have a strong interest in provenance and business values. Conveying yours through photography is a powerful way to do this – arguably there’s no more powerful way. Using generic shots will do nothing to capture imagination and encourage brand loyalty. Your own story told through quality images will bring customers with you on your brand journey.
‘’Photography is the story I fail to put into words’’. Destin Sparks, Photographer.
Be bold. Be yourself. Let your photography tell the story and build your brand.