Building a Brand Image: Three Reasons You Need Custom Photography

April 07, 2021

What’s the point of a brand? It’s the way people identify and differentiate one product or service from another. Branding can be seen in numerous aspects of our everyday lives, whether it’s the clothes you’re wearing or the device you’re reading this blog on. While brands may make the same types of products or offer similar services, the messaging that pairs with each brand is different. For example, Office Depot and Staples are in the same business segment but only one has the tagline, “Yeah, we’ve got that.” These unique slogans and taglines pair with a company’s logo and mission to bring the organizations’ brand to life, along with an additional key element: imagery. 

Like messaging, your brand’s imagery should also be unique and recognizable. Professional photographer Erik Isakson has helped big-name brands and well-known organizations, including Nike, Chevrolet, PetSmart, Unilever, UCLA and Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, tell their brand story through images – something that 41% of consumers are interested in seeing, according to HubSpot. If that’s not enough to make you want to consider having custom brand photography for the first time or as an updated refresh, these three insights from Isakson will be. 

Push Your Creativity: Stock Photos Can Only Go So Far

The power of stock photography is that you have a limitless amount of professional photos and videos right at your fingertips. Purchasing stock photography for commercial use can be a cost-effective choice to incorporate into a brand’s social media, website, blog posts and other content. One aspect to be mindful of, however, is whether or not the images chosen are specific enough to your brand. While stock photography can be personalized to an extent by adding your own artistic brand elements, colors and fonts, custom brand photography is instrumental to building brand awareness. It also prevents any risk associated with using a stock image that another brand is using. 

Working with a professional photographer gives you the same, crisp element of a stock photo while tapping into their carefully attuned eye to get creative, out-of-the-box shots. “Many people can show up and take a picture,” Isakson shares. “What I like to do is get involved as much as I can in the creative process and give my input on problem-solving to make a client’s vision come to life.” The formula for a successful shoot? Communicating and collaborating with your photographer on a detailed creative plan, including mood boards, scouted locations and shot lists. At the same time, being able to be spontaneous and deviate from the script when an opportunity arises opens the door to possibilities. For example, when one of the talents on Isakson’s photoshoots shared that they could do backflips, they took the idea and ran with it! 

Build Your Asset Library: One Photoshoot = Multiple Resources

Professional teams of photographers and videographers know how to utilize a single photoshoot in the most efficient way. This means that at the end of a new project launch or another specific project shoot, the team will have gathered some additional photos, such as behind-the-scenes images of the setup, close-ups of logos, people shots and more. To capture the types of photos that will be especially useful in the future and get the most for your money, have your marketing team speak with the photographer to go over upcoming events, products or strategic initiatives. These photos can be used to build up a bank of your own photos so that stock photography is an additional option but not the only one. 

Having worked in stock photography as well as commercial photography, Isakson shares that in these types of shoots there’s one talent and hundreds of different scenarios. Being able to incorporate this mentality while working efficiently allows you to get “as much out of a scenario as possible,” Isakson explains. When building an asset library for your brand, the first question Isakson advises brands to ask is: what is your story? “Defining what your story is will help you create imagery that’s specific to your brand so that you can capture what sets you apart, rather than shooting a run-of-the-mill stock shot,” Isakson says. Breaking down each photoshoot to tell a specific chapter of your story helps you create your entire brand “book” or asset library. In most cases, a well-rounded asset library includes a combination of both product and people in-studio and on-location, each with a well-defined concept and mood. 

Establish Connection: Customers Want to See Themselves with Your Product

Seeing a product in action is a testimonial in itself because it tells your brand story and helps the audience picture themselves using your product or experiencing your service. Including models, actors, employees or, even, real customers in your photoshoots can strengthen your brand story and help audiences further identify with your brand. In fact, one of the first studies on social media engagement, conducted by Georgia Tech, found that pictures with human faces are 38% more likely to receive likes and 32% more likely to attract comments than those without. The goal of having people in product shots is to make it “feel relatable and aspirational so that someone else would want to use that product, too,” Isakson explains. 

Whether someone directly accesses your website through Google or they stumble upon it via social media, ensuring that your imagery is both eye-catching and informative is priceless. If you are claiming to make their life easier, better or changed in some way, ask yourself how you can best illustrate this and do it frequently. Think of home sales: when clients are looking to buy a house, the model homes they tour include furniture and decor that make it feel more like home. Keeping in mind what your audience’s “problem” is and how your product or service offers a solution is a critical element to translate in your photos. 

To learn more about how to approach custom photography and efficiently work with a professional photographer to achieve brand assets, tune in to our upcoming podcast episode of The 19: Entrepreneur Edition with Erik Isakson. Sign up for our monthly newsletter in the form below to receive a notification when it goes live! 

Written By: Michelle Komala

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