Is your branding saying what you think it’s saying?


How to analyse your images, then plan an image strategy

With new social media like Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram focusing on the use of images to attract target markets, it’s a good time to think about how the use of cultural symbols in the photographs you use affect people’s perception of your business.

A simple stock photograph like a handshake or a steaming cup of coffee brings with it certain ideas and values – the photograph becomes a frame of reference for the surrounding message. In another article, I talked about the important things to consider when choosing images for your business, such as whether or not a photograph is culturally appropriate, overused, too obvious or too subtle for the intended audience. These factors will make the difference not only in terms of clear communication but whether you’ve achieved a strong and positive message about your business.

A good starting point is to take stock of the images you are currently using. New Work offers a DIY Photo Health Check for your business or personal brand – ask us for more information on this.

The next step is to plan an image strategy in line with your marketing aims

Some brands effectively using a variety of images to build a certain perception of their brand:

  • Starbucks on Facebook and Pinterest Not just coffee, but inspiring spaces, beautiful objects and coffee DIY… building a whole lovely world around coffee!
  • Virgin on Google Plus Virgin’s use of Google Plus includes an eclectic mix of personal and visually enticing images and a way to interact with the Virgin brand on topics of interest
  • Cadbury UK’s website Cadbury have used images to create stories and competitions (‘Joyville’), share the history of Cadbury and include helpful information such as chocolate recipes to entice people back to the website. Their Google Plus account is an extension of this
  • A small business example: social media agency Talking Finger’s Facebook page won an award, part of which was based on its visual branding. The photos here are funny and the surrounding information useful and interesting – a really engaging page

Questions to ask when brainstorming how to use images around your business

  • What images evoke the feeling or lifestyle your customers crave? E.g. if selling pools, you could use images about relaxation and luxury – stacked up towels, flip flops, fruity cocktails, a wide sunhat, tanned skin!
  • What images encourage people to interact with your brand? An image as the ‘cover page’ for a competition, a joke, a stand-out image that relates to a question you are asking of your audience are some ideas
  • What images make people feel ‘at home’ with your company? Personal happy snaps of staff members doing everyday things and showing their hobbies or preferences help customers feel they know you
  • What images show your brand’s ‘style’? Do images with a vintage feel suit your business? Do bold, loud images fit your brand? Or slick and corporate? This is definitely an area where a professional photographer can help, through their technical and creative skills.

Now get snapping

I’ve previously discussed the strengths and weaknesses of stock photography versus a professional photo shoot. Ideally you would have a variety of images to use in your branding that have been created just for your business, but if not, it’s important to look at the value of the chosen photographs versus the cost. Originality, professional quality, creativity and cleverness, visual appeal and impact, and culturally appropriate messages are all important to consider when choosing stock photography.

Related articles

A Brand is a Story – so you’d better write it yourself!

How to get the best out of your team and profile photos