In modern branding, one of the most important ways to capture an audience is through brand imagery. Think about the most popular social media platforms. Instagram and TikTok are completely visual, and traditionally text-based platforms like Facebook and Twitter are incorporating visuals more frequently.
If you’re building a brand, or rebranding an existing organization, it’s essential that you establish a consistent visual brand across all mediums. Whether it’s images for your website or a social media marketing content campaign, maintaining a consistent look in your brand imagery will increase the likelihood of retaining loyal supporters.
In this post, I’ll provide a comprehensive overview of brand imagery, including:
- What brand imagery is
- Why it’s important
- Different types of brand imagery
- How to develop your brand imagery
- Tips and tricks to set you apart from competitors
Continue reading to learn everything you need to know to get started on your brand imagery.
What Is Brand Imagery?
Your brand’s imagery is the collection of visual images that represent your business and brand. We live in a visually dominant world where images and videos are the most impactful way to market to consumers.
As with all things branding, your imagery is an ongoing effort – it’s how you format your images every time you update or have new additions to your asset library, how you incorporate your brand colors into every piece of content, and more.
Brand imagery is the visual component of your larger brand identity.
Brand Imagery vs. Brand Image
It may only be a two-letter difference, but brand imagery and brand image are two very different terms. While it can be easy to confuse them, I want to clear things up and define each so that there’s it’s clear.
- Brand imagery is the visual component of your brand and images that you use to represent your brand personality.
- Brand image is the way that consumers perceive your brand.
To simplify things, imagery is your efforts as a brand to establish a visual representation of how you want to be perceived by consumers – it’s in your control. Image is the way that consumers actually perceive your brand – it’s out of your control.
What Makes Strong Brand Imagery?
While brand imagery is important, you do not want to skimp out or give half of an effort. The end result will be an unreliable, unprofessional brand reputation.
In order to craft effective brand imagery, you need:
- High-quality, professional-grade images
- Images that engage your customers
- Imagery that is unique and original
- Consistent branding in every image
Why Is Brand Imagery Important?
I can’t emphasize this point enough – visuals are the most effective way of marketing your brand. Since your brand imagery creates a visual representation of your brand, it’s extremely important to invest time and resources into it.
Here are a few reasons why your brand imagery is so important:
- Pictures are more effective in spreading a message than text alone
- Branded imagery enhances all of your visual marketing efforts
- Imagery provides an emotional connection to consumers
Types Of Brand Imagery
When I mention brand imagery, I’m talking about a wide net that includes several types of visuals. Photography is the main source of brand imagery, and a robust, diverse library of images is crucial to building an effective brand.
Other types of brand imagery can include:
How To Develop Brand Imagery
Now that you understand what brand imagery is and how important of a component it is to your overall corporate branding, let’s take a look at how to develop brand imagery for your organization.
In the following sections, I’ll provide a few steps to take in order to give yourself the best chance of acquiring high-quality brand imagery.
Create Brand Imagery Guidelines
More established brands have brand style guides that outline exactly what it means to be on brand. Creating guidelines for your brand imagery is an extension of an overall brand style guide.
These guidelines are strategic standards that link images to your brand’s unique value proposition, mission, vision, values, and personality. The guidelines help determine the types of images you want to use, as well as the tone and personality you want to portray through them.
Other guidelines define the style, quality, color, and other components of your brand imagery.
Determine Your Budget
As with every project that impacts your business, you’ll have to establish a budget. In my opinion, the best way to acquire brand imagery is to hire professional photographers, illustrators, videographers, and other artists who are experts in their field.
Even if you have a tight budget, you should try and avoid using stock photos. You can try to use your iPhone camera to shoot photos if you don’t have enough in the bank to hire a professional – I even have a blog post with some tips and tricks for you. But that should be a last resort because you’ll get professional-quality images but miss out on the technical expertise behind the lens.
Find The Right Photographer For Your Project
If you do have a budget to hire a professional photographer, it’s important that you take the time to research and find the right photographer for your project. You should look for a photographer with a portfolio that aligns with your vision of your brand’s imagery.
You should also search for a photographer who has worked on similar projects or has a proven history of branding expertise. If you’re a hospital updating your business website imagery, you’ll want to find someone who specializes in commercial healthcare photography. Not only will they know how to visually conceptualize the emotional connection a medical facility’s brand needs to make with its clients. They’ll also know how to navigate the specific photo licensing and usage rights as they relate to laws in the medical field.
Create And Manage Your Brand Asset Library
Once your photo shoot is complete, creating and maintaining an organized asset library will ensure you maximize your investment. This involves establishing a process for uploading assets so that anyone can access images whenever they need.
You should continually update your asset library and have one stakeholder (or a team) who’s in charge of ensuring the library remains organized and easy to navigate.
Tips And Tricks To Set Your Brand Imagery Apart From The Rest
Outside of the steps listed above, there are a few tips and tricks that you can try to set your brand imagery apart from the competition. In the sections below, I’ll help you take your brand imagery to the next level.
Align Imagery With Your Brand Personality
This should go without saying, but if brand imagery is the visual representation of your brand personality, it’s important to remain consistent in your messaging. Consider how you want your audience to see you – what types of images and videos can subconsciously lead them to support your brand?
For example, if you’re a bubbly brand – you should have exciting, bright, and vibrant imagery across your advertising and promotional materials. On the flip side, if you’re a law firm then you would want more formal, trustworthy visuals on your professional website.
Make Sure Imagery Connects With Your Target Audience
While it would be amazing to appeal to everyone in the general public, a smarter approach to brand imagery is targeting a specific, relevant audience. You should have a strong understanding of your target consumer from your general branding and marketing plans.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself when planning to acquire new imagery:
- What is your ideal customer?
- What other businesses, products, or services do they buy?
- What types of images are they more likely to connect with?
A brand in the pharmaceutical sales industry would likely be marketing its products to an audience searching for the solution to a medical issue. Their brand imagery would call for professional product photos and realistic commercial lifestyle shots depicting life after successful treatment via their medicine.
Select The Right Mood For Your Brand
Identifying or determining the theme of your brand helps to specify the colors, tones, style, and framing that will go into any brand imagery shoot.
Some examples of moods to strive for include:
While this may be confusing at first, once you determine which mood matches your brand you can research what other businesses and brands are using for imagery to achieve that tone.
Use A Variety Of Visuals
Don’t corner yourself by only using one type of visual. While photography is the most accessible and primary source of imagery, you should try to vary the types of visuals you use. Mixing in infographics, illustrations, and videos provides variety to your audience and allows you to reuse the same content in different forms.
If you hire a videographer to create a commercial, consider also hiring a production stills photographer to shoot still photographs throughout the video project. This is a great way to increase the longevity and profits of your video project.
Create Your Brand Imagery With Casey Templeton Photography
It’s sometimes overlooked and considered an unnecessary expense, but I hope you now understand the importance of brand imagery and hiring a professional to help you achieve the best results. While you can do it yourself if you’re on a budget, you’ll find the most success working with a professional.
Casey Templeton Photography is an experienced corporate photography provider. Casey has years of experience behind the lens and extensive knowledge of branding across a variety of industries and business sizes. Fill out a contact form to learn more about brand imagery or to get started on a project!