In a previous article we looked at the important elements of brand building and the role typography plays in creating the ‘voice’ of the brand. In this article we continue that discussion and look at the role of Photo Imagery.

Photo Imagery

Assume for a moment that you have moved through the initial branding process and you have your logo in place. Now you want to tell the world you are here and how good/modern/dependable you are.
So you will need a brochure or an advertisement to help tell this story – and because you can’t just show your new logo – you will need some kind of image to sit with this information to capture your ‘brand essence’ and help you stand out from the crowd.
Now imagine you are a woman going to a ball or society event. You want the perfect dress that shows you ‘belong’ and understand the underlying social rules that operate in attending the event - but your don’t want to look like any other woman in that room. So, in effect, you want to stand out from the crowd.
Where do you find such a dress? Are you more likely to buy something ‘off the rack’ or from the same shop as everyone else? Or are you more likely to look for something that is a little more custom-made? Something that is bespoke or original and that no one else will have?
So now you understand the reasoning behind commissioning a suite of imagery that belongs to you - and you alone. Anyone can go to one of the many online photo libraries and type “happy customer” into the search engine. And I mean ‘anyone’, including your nearest competitor, the local retirement village or that daggy dress shop on the corner. And if you use the same image as these somewhat extreme examples, what is that saying about your brand and your voice?
There’s really only one way around it and that is to commission your own images. Sure it’s more expensive, but isn’t it better to stand out than to spend money and just blend in with everyone else.
There is a place for using library images or stock shots. Just know that you can’t control who else is using the same image and for what product. And be selective in your choices and try to avoid the clichés of businesspeople shaking hands or smiling people looking at the camera giving a ‘thumbs up’.
Ultimately, a design professional will have a better idea of which photographs will and won’t work for your communication. They will know that the headline and the main image should not ‘say’ the same thing but rather complement each and work together to create the message.
In the next article on branding we will be looking at the use of colour but there is an argument that your photo imagery should also tap into, or reflect, your brand’s colour palette. This may mean searching for images based on their predominant colours or applying colour overlay techniques that will also help to customise the images and make them more personalised to your brand.
Andy Engel
Head of Creative