Fresh eyes

Let your photography create the best image for your brand

let your photography make the best image for your brand

Written by Dan Hooton,
Designer at Freshfield

The world of marketing has changed. But the old saying ‘that a picture says a thousand words’ still remains true today. Whether it be for print, website, social media or PR, the demand for visual content has never been so great.

However, in a world where good kit is readily available to everyone with a smart phone or camera, you’d have thought we’d be up to our eyes in quality original images.

But anyone who works in marketing communications will tell you that quantity certainly does not equal professional quality.

Here are five pieces of advice I regularly share with my clients when talking about photography.

1. Avoid DIY

In the early 2000s, the price of good quality digital cameras came down and we’ve since seen the rise of smart phones, resulting in businesses buying camera kit and going it alone.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, the DIY option is a recipe for a design disaster. We’ve all seen arms cut off, blurred images and people blinking when a £200 camera is passed to the marketing executive. The cost of getting a professional is nominal compared to the damage a poor quality image will incur on your brand.

2. The custom fit

If you need a unique image to fit with a specific brand message or PR story, usually only a custom, professional photo will do.

While there are often budget constraints in hiring a professional photographer, a great photograph can make a message or product famous by becoming synonymous with the brand. Think of Patek Philippe’s famous ‘father and son’ campaign which helped the brand espouse its message about craftsmanship, quality and longevity.

Professional photography isn’t just for high-end fashion brands. Even a relatively small advertising campaign run by a provincial accountancy practice could benefit from original photos. For example, quality images of local landmarks might help the firm communicate its knowledge, reach and influence in the local marketplace.

It is always preferable to use custom photography or artwork whenever possible to ensure you have individuality.

3. Stock photography not stock thinking

Stock photography enables businesses to re-use images multiple times across marketing collateral.  But use of stock photography often comes with stock thinking. For example, if you’re searching using generic key words like ‘business’ or ‘divorce’, you will often come up with drab pictures of men in suits shaking hands. This means a certain amount of creative thinking has to be used to search out stock images that offer something new or that aren’t as blindingly obvious. This is why you might see a picture of stormy seas in an advert about life insurance, as it can represent people’s fears about trouble ahead or an uncertain future.

Again, you have to tread with caution here. It’s quite possible that your competitors have already had the same thought process, or that you use an image that is so abstract it doesn’t fit with the message. Also, be consistent and have a theme. You can easily create an effect on your images to make them bespoke to you.

The choice of whether to go with stock images or custom photography will depend on the requirements of a specific brief and there are pros and cons to both options. The main objective is to avoid falling into the trap of low-budget, low quality imagery.

4. Do your research

It’s no use spending time and money on a photo if your competitor has used the same one. This can often be the case when using stock photography. It is important to keep tabs on your competitors to avoid embarrassing mishaps. Plus make sure you know the royalty right on use of images to avoid unnecessary embarrassment and cost. Only last week, we were approached by a business that had received a warning letter after innocently using an image from the internet without consent.

5. Learn the basics for social media

Social media offers a great opportunity to capture visual stories and moments to share with your community. But all too often, photos can be poor. Understanding the basics of taking a high quality image will give those responsible for community management the skills to visually represent your brand and create a polished and sharp corporate image.

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