So- you have a business and you want to show off your products and services in their best light. You want your personality, style, approach and values to come through in the images you share. You want to send a clear message with your brand photos, you want to build your community and you want to bring in new clients and customers. You want to strengthen your brand. You want tp learn how to take better photos for your business, photos that do all of those things, but you're not sure where to start. If that sounds like you, you're in the right place!
First off, what does “on brand" mean?
When I talk about photos being on brand, I simply mean that every image you create and share should reflect your brand values, personality, approach and style. At some point in your business journey you’ve probably sat down and thought about these things:
- What is important to you and your business?
- What is your style and approach to creating and selling your products and services?
- What are the three adjectives that best describe your brand personality?
If you haven’t thought about these things yet (or it’s been a while since you last did)- do it now! Spend half an hour and jot down your answers to those questions, and I guarantee it will help you focus when you’re ready to pick up your camera.
If you feel like you have a solid understanding of what your brand stands for, you’re ready to move on to the fun part: creating brand photos.
How to create on brand images that stand out
The images you create and share tell the story of your brand, and of you: they send a strong message about who you are, what you believe in, and how you do what you do. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s true- even in just a single brand image you can usually get a pretty good feel for what a brand represents. On top of that, images often evoke emotions and often the way we feel after seeing a brand photo gives us a pretty good indication of whether that product or service is the right fit for us- and if we might want to invest in it.
So considering all of that, it’s now time to move on to my top tips for creating strong, on-brand photos:
1. Think about background and location.
Where will people use your products or service? How can you share your brand values in your photos? If you are an all natural, cruelty free beauty brand you might want to photograph your products outside in nature- your back garden, a local park, a wooded path or even on a beach. If you are a chef promoting a new cookbook for families, you might want to take photos of the dishes you create in the realistic environment of your own kitchen- with the usual clutter of a family kitchen and your kids playing in the background. Think about who your target market are, and how you can make your photos relatable to them. These photos were taken by me for the very talented Zoe Scott Designs. Zoe's collection was inspired by the contrast between manmade and natural (how cool are these concrete jewellery pieces, detailed with real foliage?) and we wanted to show that same contrast in her photos.
2. Think about what you will include in your images.
Adding in other “props” to your photo can help your images feel more authentic and unique- but it’s important to keep your brand values and style in mind. Using the samples above, for the beauty brand I might include some natural elements that were used in my products (scents or infusions) or I might use flowers, acorns, grass or seashells to further show that nature inspires me. If I were the chef, I would probably choose to create quite “busy” photos- with ingredients and measuring cups and my spice rack around me- cooking with kids can be challenging and I want to be relatable to the families I’m trying to sell my cookbook to. Be careful not to add too many extra props in- we want the focus to remain on what you make/do, and not on the “props”. I took this photo of Abby, who is the creator of (my favourite) biz podcast "Mind Yer Business." It made sense to include her microphone in this photo, as she hosts the podcast and it's a tool of her trade.
3. Think about colour.
There are entire courses and books on the psychology of colour, but in the interest of keeping this short and to the point I will simply say that colours cause us to feel emotions and the colours we choose to use in our photos can say a lot about our brand. Think about those three words that best describe your style. Is your business bold, bright and unique? You might choose one bright feature colour like yellow or you might fill your image with every colour in the rainbow. If your brand is strong, determined and focused, you might choose a strong red or blue feature colour, or your might go with black and white to create a simple, clean impact. Think about what colours strengthen your brand message, show your brand’s personality and reflect the product or service you are trying to promote in your images. I took this photo of Laurie of The Grow Consultancy, who wanted updated brand photos for her business. The last photos she had taken were very corporate, and it was important for her to show off her approachable personality and her relaxed and interactive approach to running her business.
4. Think about consistency.
The more consistent your visuals are, the stronger your brand is. When your potential clients or customers look through your instagram feed, they should get a feel for your brand’s style, personality, approach and values very quickly. The more they see, the stronger that feeling should grow. If your brand is bold, bright and unique- it wouldn’t make sense to have half of your photos full of colour and busy patterns and the other half in black and white, with dark lighting and plain backdrops. Similarly, if your business is strong, determined and focused you don’t want muted, pastel colours- they just don’t fit with your message. Choose a style for your photos and try to stick to it: consistent visuals build strong brands. Carolyn is a multi-talented woman who runs a business, sits on a charity board and helps run a second creative business with her partner. She wanted a variety of images that can be used to reflect everything she does, hence the different backdrops and clothing choices, but it was important to remain consistent in showing her personality and approach which are the same across the board, in everything that she does: friendly, relaxed and approachable.
5. But also- think about variety.
Probably sounds like a bit of a contradiction after the last point but hear me out. Yes, you want a consistent message to come across in your brand visuals- and you want your brand personality to be clear. But you don’t want every photo to look exactly the same- it’s important to be creative and keep your clients (past, present and future) interested. Once you have a strong overall understanding of how you can use the above tips to create images that reflect your brand, you can start to deviate a little bit and allow for some variety amongst the different product and services you are promoting. This is especially important if you offer more than one product or service. For example, a wedding and family photographer would want to show both sides of their work- which means some photos might be more romantic and some more fun and relaxed. If you take a peek at my other brand, (I’m @rhiannoneale over on instagram), you’ll notice that some images are in colour, some are black and white, some are indoors and some are out. But all of my images are focused on people and emotions (not backdrops or props), all are edited in a similar style, and all of them (hopefully) evoke the three words that I think best describe my brand: authentic, relaxed and emotive.
Set aside a chunk of time to create a set of brand photos rather than just taking a single image here and there. This helps provide consistency across your images and means you will have a bunch of great brand photos on hand for whenever you are ready to post- rather than rushing to take one last minute, without putting thought into the above points, and realizing too late that it doesn’t fit in with your brand message.
I hope that these tips help you when you’re planning out your next brand photos, and that you’ll keep these things in mind every time you pick up your camera to take new photos for your business.
Looking for a little bit more support?
I'd love to help! I offer brand photography workshops, one to one brand photography training and a full visual branding strategy service where we work together to create a complete strategy for strengthening your brand with visuals. All strategy meetings, workshops and training are currently being held via Zoom, FaceTime or Skype and are available to be booked on weekdays, evenings or weekends to best suit any schedule. Instalment plans are also available. Get in touch for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.