Why great photography is essential to your brand (and when stock photos simply kill it!)
You did it! You got a great new brand created, updated your marketing and website, and launched it into the world.
You’re getting great comments and feedback and it all looks like you’ve totally nailed it. Now you have to keep up the good work and keep that brand in that great place.
… but this is where most businesses screw it up!
We’ve never been ones to hold back on what we see and we’re not about to do that in this blog, so if you’re of a nervous disposition when you’re told some home truths about branding use then click away now.
Still here? Great… Let’s get this message well and truly out there so you don’t make some serious mistakes.
Good imagery reflects on a brand and so does crap imagery
Let’s get the obvious, “No shit, Sherlock” moment out of the way and make it really obvious what we’re talking about here.
- Great imagery, great messages.
- Crap images, crap messages.
The quality of photos used on websites and marketing collateral is getting very messy, poor, and so off-brand! If you’re thinking about stealing from Google images or buying cheap stock from some poor online store, or even using your poor-quality smartphone snaps – just don’t!
Your photos – and the quality of them – reflect directly on a brand and business. The brand and your story are the DNA of your marketing. It’s for this reason that you need to make sure you’re using appropriate images and images that are of a quality that you would want to be associated with your brand.
A brand needs to come alive through the imagery; not be killed by it.
How to kill a brand with smiley-faced white-teeth hand-shaky people…
You know all that work you did when you created the brand identity?
You know all those meetings, emails, calls, and big decisions you made when you created that new logo, the colour palette, fonts, values, and the tone of voice?
You can kill the impact of that by heading to one of those cheap stock photo sites, downloading a file of someone you’ve never met, who’s ‘super-excited’ to be doing something very mundane (or working in a space that clearly has never been worked in before), or working on a computer with a screengrab that bears zero resemblance to you, your message, or your brand!
Here’s what we mean. Have you seen how happy these ladies are to be eating a salad? Fake news!
Does your photo represent your brand?
No? Then why use it?
That wonderful brand you created and painstakingly worked on could be let down by imagery that doesn’t fit your brand identity. It really can make or break your brand.
You can really confuse people by saying one thing and doing something else. People need to trust you to buy from you, and this is all part of building the trust.
Photos and imagery are part of a brand.
(We’ll say that again in caps as it’s important and we want to shout about it!)
“PHOTOS AND IMAGERY ARE PART OF A BRAND!”
When you had the brand guidelines created, that was meant to cover everything you do with that brand and that obviously meant website, email, social media and traditional marketing materials.
But it also meant the way you present pitches, the way you behave at business events, the way you answer the phone, the car you drive…
… and the images you use.
Put it like this:
You wouldn’t exhibit at a business show with dirty crumpled clothes, wearing your slippers, with a broken banner and some crumpled leaflets would you? And we’re pretty sure you’d clean your teeth and brush your hair before going to a client meeting.
So, you’re not going to use poor images, are you?
We believe that image styles should be in brand guidelines
Create parameters around the photos and other images that you use with the brand and stick to them.
Make sure they are aligned to the brand identity.
This plays out across all the marketing your brand will do. When you consider how many channels and how many ways you can market now, that’s a lot of areas where photos could kill the brand!
Here’s some areas to think about with your brand guidelines for images:
- How do you find and store images for your website (for current and future pages and articles)?
- When you create images for social media, what style do they need to be in?
- When exhibiting, networking, or creating an online profile, what images do you need?
- When creating a new product or service suite, how will the images be selected?
Look, here’s the deal:
If your style is active and supportive, you wouldn’t use an image of a person stood still on their own, would you?
Think about that core message you have in the brand and then ask yourself each time you use an image or photo:
“Does this convey the message I’m trying to get people to remember and resonate with?”
Stock images can look false and are often out of kilter with your brand identity
Stock photos weren’t created for you.
Images that are created for you and are very much in line with your brand work 100% better.
Stock images were created for some generic situation like “Meeting” or “Walking” or “Greeting” or even “Women running in pencil skirt to a meeting”. They’re mostly just terrible and clichéd.
Some stock image sites are now far better than they used to be. There are some great stock photo and image sites out there and you can use them – we’ll allow you! But you can only use them on one condition:
Make sure you choose images that match your brand identity.
We understand that sometimes the budget won’t allow you to have the best images or photos and you may well have to go for stock, but when you do, select stock images VERY CAREFULLY.
By the time you’ve spent hours looking for the right stock images, you may as well have paid a professional to get exactly what you want…
We’ve started offering this very service because we want to put a stop to the death of brand through poor images and photos.
Photos taken for a specific piece of content or brand identity are far more powerful and often a far more effective choice (for brand, time, and money).
Yes, you can find a stock site that suits a brand and we’re sure you might be pretty nifty with an iPhone, but you can’t beat unique and on-brand images taken with the brand in mind.
Wouldn’t it be easier to have your own bank of images of everything you need, so you can just choose from a selection you know are high quality and relevant?
… well almost.
Go back to the website, social media, marketing, and wherever else you have images and then get your brand identity and guidelines to hand and be honest with yourself:
- Do they represent it?
- Do they amplify it?
- Or do they kill it a little bit inside?
Choose wisely or create images for the job in hand.
The results are powerful, and you’ll have a far stronger message.