Branding + Design
SIMPLE QUESTION: When you’re scrolling down your endless Facebook and Instagram timelines, which makes you stop scrolling first - the text or the images?
If you answered with “the images,” then congratulations! You’re part off the majority!! So much for individuality. LOL! But on a serious note, the reason why you’re more compelled to stop on the photos is actually backed up by science. According to researched complied by 3M, the corporation behind Post-it Notes, images are processed 60,000 times faster than written words, which means you can show off your brand to your followers much quicker with pictures.
So I guess it’s safe to say that your brand photography is probably going to be your most advantageous tool when it comes to your branding.
Photography provides PROOF! It helps your audience to visually perceive you as an expert in your field, which hopefully is good for your bottom line.
Let’s take a shallow dive two similar BLACK-OWNED businesses and the choices they have made to build their brands using photography.
XOXO Sugar and The Crayon Case have both gained notoriety (#1) because of the strong desire of black people to support black business, but mainly because of (#2) the superior quality of their products. However, it is worth noting how they each approach swaggering their brands. Both pages tell a story about what their products are like, what their brands are about and the kinds of customers they want to attract.
XOXO Sugar is giving off a sweet/affordability sensibility that’s probably catered to 18 - 35 year old female demographic, whereas The Crayon Case is going for a back-to-school vibe which could appeal to both school aged audiences and trendy, fashion-forward adults craving a sense of nostalgia. One can assume that not too many men or women over 50 will be buying, but they’ve totally got the attention of their intended audiences. So as you can see, although these brands are quite similar, they’re harnessing the power of great brand photography to tell 2 totally different stories to potentially the same audience and to differentiate their brands from one another in such a competitive marketplace.
We’re going to be taking a closer look into how photography can be used to help develop an increased awareness of your brand and the steps that you can take to make a better showing to your followers. Remember - Your visual presentation will make or break your brand, so don’t risk turning potential customers off by using unflattering photos cause it’ll instantly devalue your brand.
Using Photography in Your Branding
In the above examples, both brands themed their images in eye-catching ways to convey different messages to their audiences. This is how you should be thinking when developing your brand. Know your audience and tell them your story.
1. The 3 P’s: Perspective, Portrayal & Purpose
You’ll need all of these in order to start visualizing and actualizing your branding.
Perspective - What’s your perspective? What is the message that you are trying to send to your audience?
Portrayal - How do you want to portray that message? Do you have a particular concept that could help send the message?
Purpose - What’s the purpose? What do you want your customers to do? How do you want your clients to feel? What’s your desired end result?
2. Create a mood board
Having a clear overview of these 3 things will definitely help you when it’s time to start pinning. Back in the day, we used to have to make moodboards from old magazine cut-outs, but now-a-days, all you need is Pinterest. Create a board and collect all of the inspiration that you need until you see your brand materialize.
Save photos from everywhere you can find that looks like the photography that you want to featured your brand. Take a look at your closest competitors and take note of the techniques they employ to engage their following. Let your Pinterest Board reflect the feeling of what you want your audience to receive from you. It should have personality. It should convey a mood. It should look like it comes from you as opposed to someone else. Every pin should work together to tell the story of your brand.
3. Edit, Edit, Edit!!!
Now that you’ve got a pretty good inspo’ board, you’re going to have to pare it down. Look through your collection and get organized. Recognizing patterns in your preferences is going to help you assemble your style guide and to remove duplicate pins or ones that tell the same story, either visually or emotionally. Be selective about what you keep, making sure only to save the items that most closely reflect your brand’s point of view.
A great way to make this easier on yourself is to have a client-first attitude. Consider their needs because after all, you’re choosing these images for them. Having a clear set of guidelines makes the blueprint easy to replicate so consider the following:
What is the subject of the photos? Are you selling a product? Are you the subject because you provide the service? Are you a landscape photographer who needs to feature landscape photography?
Telling a story means CONTENT so plan shoots that tell a story so you can get a series of images to use that suit your brand instead of just the one or two desired images at a time.
How will you customer feel after seeing the images? More confident in your service? Like they have to buy your product now? Like they need their next portrait session shot by YOU?
Editing photos with a consistent style brings a level of polish to your brand that you don’t know is missing unless it’s missing. This is all to say - bookmark your filters. This helpful tip also helps to give a vibe. Your photo editing can tell the audience if your brand is sweet, edgy, artistic, natural, raw, etc… you get the picture.
Remember what you hate! When researching, you’re going to see plenty of images and branding that you don’t like or that doesn’t speak to you. Remember that and make sure not to repeat it in your branding. You know how you would feel as a potential customer looking for a photographer but only seeing stock photography on their website - or when you’re looking for the perfect foundation, but the lighting is bad in the photos. Would that CONVERT you?
The below example is my simple style guide which is a a great way to collect and organize ideas that you have for your brand. Since I’m a photographer, finding photos wasn’t too hard, but I still had to edit to make sure that my brand has a unique perspective that yo’ll only get from me.
4. Story Telling is KEY!
Be selective in your choice of visuals. I suggest you start with your PURPOSE and ask your self if the image fits that.
I created these 2 examples to illustrate my point. This is the difference between good photography and better photography for your branding. The flyer on the left is OK. It matches the theme of the ad. It shows a pool and we’re talking about a pool party, but there’s something missing that picture 2 clearly is not. What the difference between the two? The answer - The people and the vibe! Now ask yourself.. which party would you most likely want to attend?
5. Get Great Photos
There are many different ways that you can get really good photos for your brand. The first, and most obvious way would be to hire a professional. Once you have a style guide ready, its as easy as sharing that with a professional photographer who could easily capture similarly styled images for your brand.
Another great resource for great photography is stock photos. If budget and time are your challenges, I’m linking a few of my favorites for getting stunning stock photography.
PIXABAY - Over 1.6 million royalty free stock photos and videos
BURST - Free stock photos for websites and commercial use
And if you’re the type who is not afraid to get their hands dirty, Pinterest is full of DIY Photography Ideas that you could try out for your brand.
Photography at its core is a method way to tell stories and we all, if we can, respond to visual images. Understanding why might just be the difference between attracting more clients or turning them away. So again, take special care in selecting your brand images. They’re just as, if not more important as your logo, brand voice, content, etc. If I’m attracted to intriguing and consistent images from your brand on Insta or FB , that pulls me in so I want to learn more, and as a result I hit the follow button.
Is a picture worth a thousand words? Some would argue they’re worth a whole lot more. That’s why killer brand photography is so crucial to the success of your business.