Your photography and what it says about your business
Imagery is a big issue for a lot of brands. However, it’s one that many don’t put enough investment behind either when it comes to time or finance.
Fortunately, we’ve moved away from the cowboy world of simply using images we find online. Today there are a number of royalty free sites that allow you to use creative stock photography for the common politeness of crediting the source. There are also a number of famous image bank deities like Getty Images and Shutterstock. Here, the price of membership or a licensing fee per image will allow you select the varying types of use. Just remember to read the fine print.
To buy or not to buy, that is the question
However, the question of imagery and photography goes far beyond royalties when it comes to brand value. Obviously there are huge benefits to taking your own photos, not least of all bypassing the issue of image rights. Although if you use models then there’s a whole spectrum of variations on image use that agencies can take you through.
However, photoshoots cost money and one of the challenges of social media, and all forms of online marketing, is that they eat imagery for breakfast. It’s a bottomless pit that constantly requires sustenance. It is for that reason, amongst others, that most brands opt for a combination of own and stock photography.
What you say and how you present it
The biggest challenge businesses face with their imagery however, is the message that it sends. The old adage says a picture is worth 1000 words. Well, we like our words, so we’re not sure about that. However, an image can certainly go a long way to making or breaking the words you write.
If you’re a wellness brand for example, but use heavily airbrushed pictures of people with a question mark over their health, does it undermine your message? Then again, it’s not always your own images that can send the wrong message. Whole Foods, who capitalise on a holistic, healthy and environmentally aware ethos came up red faced when this photo was taken and shared by a customer on Twitter.
If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them. pic.twitter.com/00YECaHB4D
— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) March 3, 2016
On the other hand, the the use of imagery can really create an identity for your company as well. Perhaps some of the best examples of this can really be seen on Instagram today both on company and influencer-owned channels.
So what’s our point?
The chances are we haven’t said anything here that you didn’t already know. Our point is that marketing isn’t about doing one thing perfectly. It’s about bringing all the elements together under a clear marketing strategy. Imagery included.
For some companies, imagery is simply an underused resource. You might be an insurance company and think your product isn’t particularly image focused so why put much thought into it? A nice image of blue skies with tidy overlay text in NHS blue will do nicely. Maybe it will, but rather than simply filling space, could that imagery be working harder for you and your brand?
The important thing is to decide what you’re doing with intent. A strategy is the key to tying it all together, creating an approach that will become identifiable, and making a strong, positive impact on your company through the choices you make. That’s the difference between a business and a brand.
You will almost definitely end up using imagery in your marketing one way or another. So instead of simply filling space, why not use it to make a real difference?