BY SUSANNAH FIELDS
We all know just how important photography is in today’s digital world, and you’ve no doubt heard many times that a photo can get your message across quickly, helping you make a sale and connect with your market.
But have you ever considered how the photos you take or have commissioned will actually affect your overall brand image, how important it is to make sure you have visual brand guidelines and how you can achieve this through a few simple steps?
Firstly, let’s consider how the photos themselves affect your brand image.
Photography, like fashion and food, follows trends and can become outdated over time. Not only is the actual subject in the photo itself in danger of being out of date, (for example, if your restaurant has been redecorated since the photo was shot) the actual style of photography can be as well. When I first started photography I shot a lot of weddings and colour spotting was all the rage. For those that don’t know what this is – imagine a photo of the bride and groom in black and white, but the bouquet of flowers in the bride’s hands remain in full colour. Ugh, I cringe at the idea now, yet I distinctly remember many couples telling me how much they loved this style – then. Use that now on your website and you’ll be in danger of looking very out of touch.
So, it’s really important that your imagery is up to date and represents your business as it is now, not 5 or 10 years ago and the style is fresh and contemporary. Even if that means dumping a whole load of images - a photo declutter in a way.
Another way to make sure your images reflect your brand is through your staff photos. If you’re a serious law firm, you should present yourself with serious, though smiling of course, photos. Clean background, staff dressed smartly and all the photos shot in a consistent style all help put forward a great company image. On the other hand, if you’re a design agency, or event company, for example, you may want to add some personality into your photos to show your fun and creative side. There’s nothing worse than seeing snap-chat style pictures or selfies on LinkedIn or the ‘About Us’ page, no matter how fun and upbeat you are.
It shows dedication and insight if you’ve taken time to put together photos that truly reflected your company values and you will be taken seriously – even if you’re showing your non-serious side.
Finally – and possibly the most relevant right now – your images on social media really matter as they are being seen right now, by absolutely anyone checking out your business online. It is better not to post content than to post bad content. However, despite me being a professional photographer, I do not think that all photos posted on social have to be professional ones. In fact, I think brands should take full advantage of their phone camera pictures by staff and customers, particularly in retail and hospitality where it’s all about the experience.
It is important to retain some element of control over the images being put out there and picking and choosing the ones to re-post and share that correctly show your business how you want it to be seen. So, if you’re a luxury hotel and one of your customers shows their fabulous photo sipping a cocktail on their balcony – definitely share it – that’s exactly how you want your hotel to be portrayed. But a drunken stag-do photo – let that one slope off into cyberspace. Sure, comment that you’re glad they had a great time – customer engagement is key after all - but there’s no need to share it on your feed.
If, in between your staff and customer shots, you then capture and share professional photos of key things in your business – a new dish on the menu, a redecorated room, a pop-up space or a new product, you can make sure that everything is presented in it’s very best light and in keeping with your brand image.
Your brand and your photographs
When you’re thinking about the photos you’re putting out there, on social media and in your general marketing activity, keep a list of your key brand values and ideal customer and see if these are reflected well in your imagery. If not, simply tweak your photos, delete some and plan some more, until the message is right and use a mixture of customer and staff snaps, as well as professional photos, to do so.
Simply put, when people see your business from the outside what do they see? I urge you to seriously think about dedicating some time to this every week – this is your shop front and the resources put into this will pay for itself by attracting new customers. Through your marketing activity, alongside photographs that support your values, it should be quite simple to make sure your brand is clearly presented to the outside world.
Susannah Fields is a professional photographer working across the hospitality, commercial and charity sectors and shooting a mixture of interior, food, marketing and portrait photography as well as events and Virtual Tours. With nearly fifteen years’ experience working with a wide range of clients, Susannah is now able to help clients with the strategy and goals of their photography shoots, as well as planning and directing them and really understands how photography, digital marketing and branding all work hand in hand.