If you believe the adage that a “picture is worth a thousand words,” ‒ what are your pictures saying about your company? Imagery’s impact on your brand cannot be overstated or underestimated. It’s a visual cue of who your company is, what you represent, and as Forbes puts it ‒ “what you stand for.” With every interaction, your brand has an opportunity to make a lasting impression, communicate a message, elicit a feeling, and ultimately sell what you have to offer.
If possible, plan a photoshoot for authentication instead of using stock imagery, which often looks disingenuous and generic. When planning, leverage your brand guidelines to ensure the style is true to your thoughtfully crafted visual identity. Don’t have a brand style guide? Take the time to make one. This will be your cornerstone for all internal and external marketing and communication pieces moving forward.
From there, research and vet photographers and/or videographers with proven experience in your industry, and with a portfolio that adequately captures the style you’re looking for.
If this sounds like a lot of upfront heavy lifting, that’s because it is. Your brand image is an investment, and you get what you put into it.
Now, you’re finally ready to start planning the actual imagery. Consider these 5 best practices for planning and shooting the right imagery for your brand.
Consider where and how imagery will be used ‒ on your website, across social, on other marketplaces, in advertising campaigns? Are there variations that need to be planned for each product? Is there a seasonality to what you’d show and when? How important is diversity to your brand and the people included in your media? Answers to these questions will likely result in a long list. This doesn’t mean you have to shoot everything in one day, but planning holistically will allow you to plan proactively and usually at a better price point.
2. Consider when in-studio shots are appropriate.
Capture in-studio shots where the focus is entirely on the product. This can be done economically by sending a photographer products in bulk. It’s crucial to map out the number of shots per product variation (e.g., 1 product with 5 patterns) and how they should be captured (e.g., close up, white background, landscape orientation) so there’s variety across pages. Keep in mind marketplace requirements if you’re shooting imagery for other platforms.
3. Use rich media.
If within budget and depending on the product, consider interactive 360-degree photos and short videos. 360-degree photos can showcase the complexity or texture of a product, while short videos can take the form of how to’s, tutorials, and sizzle reels which can be leveraged across multiple channels and platforms. Check out Ops-Core as a great example.
4. Keep your audience and usage in mind.
Include lifestyle imagery, keeping in mind the target audience and diversity (e.g. gender, age, race, ethnicity, height, weight, etc.) so viewers can quickly self-identify. Consider which locations (e.g. indoor vs. outdoor) make the most sense for how the product is used.
5. Leverage loyal customers.
If possible, film testimonial videos of loyal customers speaking your praise, which builds brand and product credibility via 3rd party validation. If it’s not realistic to include these in your photoshoot, encourage customers to share their own product usage photos and videos, referred to as user-generated content (UGC). UGC can include customers showing your product in day-to-day use, highlighting a unique feature, giving tips and tricks on recommended usage, etc. UGC can then be leveraged across your website, platforms, and campaigns.