I recently talked about the importance of a visual strategy for your brand, and today is all about the end result of this strategy - your brand photos.
We know that creating a recognizable style for your brand is important, forging a connection with your audience and telling a story through your visual content. Brand photos provide an opportunity to create brand awareness, communicate an intentional message, and attract your dream audience by building a relationaship with them.
Not only do visuals help your brand be more memorable and effective, but they also help the viewer to process, understand and retain information more quickly.
It’s undeniable that images are a powerful way to convey a message and create a recognizable brand, and here are a few quick facts that prove this point:
Attention spans are decreasing. People get distracted in an average of 8 seconds (which means you pretty much have that amount of time to grab people’s attention), 81% of educated people skim instead of reading online, and people only remember reading 20% of text without visuals.
A first impression is made in a mere 50 milliseconds. Kind of crazy, right?
The fastest growing social media channels are visual, and by 2018, more than 84% of communication will be visual. Twitter’s active user base has grown by 120%, Pinterest’s by 111% and Instagram’s by 64%.
Compelling images are essential. A post that includes an image results in a 650% higher engagement than text-only posts.
Articles with relevant images have 94% more total views that those without.
When it comes to e-commerce, 67% of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in the selection and purchasing process. They also said that images are more important than product-specific information, a long description, or ratings and reviews.
Facebook posts with a photo have the highest engagement rate, at 37%.
Visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.
If you want more stats and love infographics as much as I do, this one about how to adapt your brand to account for the way that information consumption is changing, or this one - It’s all about the images - were particularly interesting.
So we know that images are powerful, but let’s break it down even more, with three reasons why you need brand photos.
They instantly create brand recognition and awareness
Brand photos allow you to establish a “look” that’s specific to your brand. The ultimate goal is to reach the point where an image is recognizably yours when it pops up in front of someone, whether that’s in an Instagram feed, on your website, or in their inbox, without even seeing your profile pic or brand name associated with it.
Brand photos provide the opportunity to communicate the style, colour palette and message of your brand within one image - which, now that we know how little time we actually have to capture attention and make a first impression - is particularly powerful. This makes it easier for them to recall and associate those details with your brand at a later time.
Photos are more memorable than text, so if you can create a style for your photos that becomes associated with your brand, your audience is more likely to remember that.
Think of a brand like Kate Spade, Ban.do or Free People, all of which have established a distinct style for their brand that is carried through to everything they produce, including - you guessed it! - their brand photos. So when you see punchy bright colours, celebratory images of gold confetti or champagne flutes and black and white polka dots pop up in your feed, you’re cued to instantly think of Kate Spade and their motto of ‘Live Colorfully’, in the same way that pink backdrops and quirky imagery is associated with Ban.do even when their product isn't in the photo, and an image that captures the dreamy, luxe bohemian vibe that Free People has become known for will be recognized as such.
By creating this brand recognition through your photos, you’re establishing a connection with your audience, and even if they aren’t ready to purchase from or contact you now, your brand will be the first they call to mind when they are, all because of that beautiful photo that stuck in their mind.
They communicate a message and tell a story quickly and easily
We all know the old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words”, and there’s so much truth in that, with photos being more memorable than written content due to the fact that many of us process visuals exceptionally better than text, and it looks like that’s going to continue to be a trend we need to pay attention to.
Add to that the fact that these days we’re bombarded with content at every turn, and it’s no wonder why our attention spans are so short and why we crave visual content that is easily digestible without having to do too much work.
Your brand photos have the potential to tell the story of your brand with impact and emotion. The essence of a good story is that it breeds connection and begs to be shared, and an image does that much more easily than text-based content.
Beautiful photos can tell incredible stories, and by tapping into the lifestyle aspect, specific style or unique offering of your brand, you’re able to illustrate this through creative content.
Photos evoke emotion and communicate how you want your customer to feel when they interact with your brand. By connecting with your audience on a deeper level, you’re also inspiring them to take action by building trust and forming a relationship with them.
Even by simply integrating a human element to your photos or providing a behind the scenes look behind your brand, you’re adding emotion. It’s relatable and gives your audience a visual connection to your brand that they’ll remember.
they Act as a marketing tool and lead to an increase in sales
This ties back to the relationship building and establishing a certain level of trust with your audience. You’re giving them a peek at what they can expect from you, whether that’s an actual product, the result of a service you offer, or a lifestyle you’re selling.
By not simply pushing products or blatantly selling to your audience and instead focusing on this lifestyle aspect of your brand, you’re giving them the opportunity to really see themselves within your brand and picture how they might fit within that. It’s about tapping into that “me too” mentality or offering content that has an aspirational quality that they want to be a part of.
This is also why developing brand personas is so powerful, and if we go back to the brands mentioned earlier, Kate Spade, Ban.do, and Free People, I can guarantee that there are women who have developed personal relationships with these companies because they consider themselves to be a “Kate Spade woman” (also proven by the fact that the Kate Spade line now includes a number of lifestyle-focused books on topics such as entertaining), identify with one of the “FP girls” or as part of the “Ban.do girl gang” - which you can even print off a membership card for. And once you feel like you’re part of that special club that these brands have created, you can bet that when it comes time to make a purchase, they’re going to be your first stop, because you’re fully embedded within their lifestyle already.
One of my favourite types of brand photos to post - and, in a lot of ways, the easiest to create - are behind the scenes shots of a product or project you’re working on, or even just a peek at your workspace or a “day in the life” capture. This is a way to give your community VIP access to your brand, and also to further nurture that connection with them by including them on your journey as part of your brand story. Again, it’s about building that relationship, because if you include them in your story along the way, they’re already invested in your brand.
Identifying Where Your Brand Photos Might Show Up
So now we’ve identified why brand photos are important, and chances are you already have some ideas about the content itself - if you need a little kickstart, I’ve got a cheatsheet with my favourite brand photos content ideas.
But what about where they actually show up? Here are a few ideas:
Social media posts. We’ve already read the stats about how much higher engagement is for posts with images, so focus on a few visual platforms that you can create consistent content for.
Social media profiles and headers. Most platforms present at least one opportunity for you to showcase a brand photo in your profile pic (with many also including space for a header or background image), so don’t let that go to waste.
Blog post graphics or feature images. Whether they exist on their own or are layered with the text for the blog post title, chances are you need some form of image to preview your blog post and set the tone for what your audience can expect, not to mention the potential to share these images on Pinterest and other social media platforms for even more reach.
Landing page. This could be a preview or “coming soon” page, a webinar registration page, a thank you page or a simple page with a newsletter opt-in.
Sales page. Brand photos will help to convey the message behind a product or service offering, sparking the viewer to imagine themselves using the product or service and communicating its features.
Website. There are so many opportunities to use images on your website, and creating beautiful, branded imagery will instantly catch your viewer’s eye, communicating your style and telling the story of what you do or offer. Use photos as background images in a parallax or banner section, as thumbnails that illustrate various categories of content, or to showcase your own work, share your process, or provide a look at your workspace.
Digital content. Using photos on the covers of e-books, workbooks, cheatsheets, catalogues or guides help to showcase the product, creating interest around it and selling a particular lifestyle or concept. Not to mention that - again - by using your own brand photos, your content will instantly stand out and be recognizable in a folder of downloads or desktop.
Product photography. Product features are deemed as more trustworthy if product can be seen “in action”. During my boutique days, I experienced this firsthand with product shots in the online store and also sneak peeks at products that we would share on social media. Focus on showcasing high quality and detailed images.
Newsletters or emails. If you offer your community a newsletter or use email marketing, think about including imagery within these, even if that’s as a header that is part of the template, or a photo to showcase a new product or to illustrate a point.