Photography is a complex language with the power to move and inspire us; it’s also the right way to speak to your potential customers and clients.
It’s almost uncontested that the right images and visual cues can increase engagement, establish credibility, and inspire action from those you and your brand wish to communicate with – directly relating in loyalties, and above all, sales. And it’s not just about putting a few headshots onto your materials. Creating and curating the right aesthetics and authentic experiences are how you can show your value – perceived and actual – to create meaningful relationships with your audience, while building new ones in tandem.
Before your new iOS camera burns a hole in your pocket, there are some use-cases to consider in identifying which formula works best for your brand and services.
Individuals and Personalities
Oftentimes when you yourself are selling a service, a person is the product and the frontman becomes the highlight of a brand – entrepreneurs, spokespeople or celebrity CEO’s are all good examples of that. Even with the “face” solidified, creating images that relay the true personality of an individual is an absolute art. This was the case with Mike Cardus, an organization development coach that single-handedly led his own market presence. Mike is his brand and his ideas are his product; when you contract with him, you are truly buying his time and attention, so we knew that capturing his essence was key to his marketing materials. Since his authentic personality was what others invested in, we chose to document Mike in his natural environment, with minimal secondary lighting, so we could capture what he does best for a living: act like Mike Cardus. This was key to bringing his essence to life, as it should always be when decoding the correct things your audience wants and someone’s brand needs.
Candid and photos and events
A comprehensive brand identity will carry a company through all available mediums of marketing, from social media to PR to community engagements. Where print and web can be great outlets for formal photos of retouched perfection to appear, social media and blogs can carry a less formal tone. Candid shots and event photos can show people engaged in conversation, laughing, interacting with a product or service – having altogether real experiences. While we don’t suggest sacrificing quality or planning, working with clients to create beautiful, sincere images of real experiences should often lead the visual decisions in the concepting phase. Our team accomplished this for Mike by selecting a group of his clients and associates and having him lead a training exercise while our photographers performed their magic. We planned to photograph Mike and his team for the day in the type of environment they would typically work in to add to the authenticity of the experience and exposure, while using an effective, but non-intrusive, lighting setup so the group could work as they normally would. From there, we were able to capture all of the true energy and excitement that is felt in the room as Mike does his thing and teams solve their problems. After all, pictures or it didn’t happen.
Products and Items
If your brand story includes products or items for sale, they become the star of the show. Products, when done right, have a personality of their own and can be shown in different lights (no photo-pun intended). Styling a product like you would a supermodel is one route to take. That apparel item, device, consumable or whatever your need can be staged in any number of styles that give it the best platform. And, sometimes product styling can be more complex then styling a human model; you have to think both for the item and the shot. Candid photos of products are equally as important, too, as it’s imperative that audiences can envision how they could seamlessly fit into their own lives. That’s why staging the item as useful and enjoyable is key. When we photographed the SOLVED Cards for Mike Cardus, we made sure to highlight the unique box design, as well as give users a glimpse at the cards inside – without giving away too much of the magic. These shots look simple, but they were painstakingly lit and retouching was done to remove dust and any imperfections the camera might have picked up.
When you really want to make an impact, make it move. Everything you read these days will tell you that video increases conversions, and that Google and Facebook love – and prefer – video. Not only for pure exposure, videos also build trust and tie directly into the real, sincere quality a brand should promote to the world. Whether your CEO is reaching out to your audience, you’re sharing your annual conference with the world, or promoting your product, video is going to make a powerful connection. The big “but” here is that just like photo, it needs to be well done. Audiences are savvy and will recognize poor quality immediately. Just like colors, graphics, and photos, the style and production methods you use for your video matter immensely to your brand story and the value with which it’s seen and understood. This simply means that in order to create a formal, established sense of your product or service, shaking iPhone videos just won’t do. If you are going to invest the time and resources into producing the right video for the right marketing conversation, you’d be wise to trust the experts to carry out the job (and the tripod).
Digital animation, stop motion, live action or kinetic type, for example, all have different feels and mean different things for your brand. Kenetic might make a lot of sense for an explainer video, just like the other side of the coin where the 3D animation you see commonly used for sports teams is too ostentatious for a buttoned-up company like a bank.
Take a Closer Look
Instead of just looking into the audience, first dive into the brand in question itself: what is it trying to say, prove and evoke in others? Once those questions are thought out and answered, the choices and tactics within the photo and video world should feel second nature. And, if you’re not quite sure how you can answer express those motives, call in the experts – it’s what we’re here for.