Creating A Brand Image Library For Your Business

example of multiple galleries in image library

An image library provides your brand with photos to use for all of your content needs. From website images and social media content to online marketing and print advertising content, images help establish an authoritative, recognizable brand. 

In this post, I’ll take you through the steps of creating a brand image library for your business. Continue reading to learn:

  • How to create an image library
  • What the requirements for an image library are, and 
  • Why you should hire a professional photographer for your image library

How To Create An Image Library 

Maybe you’re a new business starting from scratch. Or an existing business looking to build a stronger brand or rebrand completely. Whatever situation you’re in, it’s never a bad time to create an image library – especially if you don’t already have one. 

So how do you create your brand’s image library? The good news – there are no “technical” requirements to make one. That doesn’t mean you can just fly by the seat of your pants. In the sections below, I’ll provide step-by-step guidance on how to create an image library for your brand. 

Understand What You’re Looking For 

Before you can create your image library, you need a plan. Identify what you want to get out of your library. Do you need a complete and diverse library of different image types? Or are you a smaller business that’s just looking for headshots of your team and a couple of images for your website? 

When determining your end goal, consider the following ways you may want to use images: 

  • Website pictures
  • Social media content 
  • Advertisements and online marketing 
  • Billboards and public promotion 
  • Sales pitches and presentations
  • Product photos 
  • Staff directories and team bios 
  • Other uses 

example of an image library with multiple folders

Review What You Already Have

Before getting too far in the process, assess your current images and assets. You’ll likely already have some images you use for marketing content, social media, and branding

Review your existing files and organizational structure to identify: 

  • What’s usable 
  • What you’re missing 
  • What’s working 
  • What’s not working 

Get rid of any photos or visuals that you no longer want to use. Some things to look for when removing old assets include: 

  • Irrelevant images that no longer work for your brand 
  • Outdated images or pictures from completed advertising or branding campaigns 
  • Duplicate images 
  • Low-quality images 

When you determine which to keep, group existing images into categories based on specific factors or similarities.

Create A List Of Desired Images

After reviewing existing images, you’ll have a better idea of the gaps you need to fill. To actualize your needs: 

  • List your desired images 
  • Identify use cases for images 
  • Address components of images that enhance or bring out characteristics of your brand including its identity, personality, and colors 

This process results in multiple action items. One of which is the starting point for a shot list to work with when investing in a brand photoshoot.

Evaluate Your Budget

Any business decision comes with this step. When you know what you have and what you are looking for in brand imagery, evaluate your budget and determine what’s realistic to achieve your business goals. 

When assessing your budget for creating an image library, consider the costs for: 

  • Acquiring images
  • Image library software subscription or purchase 
  • Required team resources to maintain an image library

photo in an image library

Decide How To Acquire Images

Once you establish a budget, you can figure out how to acquire images for the library. 

There are three main ways to get photos for your image library: 

  • Stock photos: Select pre-shot images from a stock image library to use for your brand. Some stock image libraries are free to use, while others come with photo usage fees. Stock photos are an option for businesses with tighter budgets. It’s a more affordable option but you risk coming off as a disingenuous, inauthentic brand using generic stock images
  • Self-shot smartphone photography: Android and iPhone cameras have come a long way. With a few tips and tricks, you can capture usable images for your website and social media content. Another affordable option, smartphone photography won’t compare to a professional but it can do the trick if you’re on a budget. 
  • Hiring a professional photographer: The best way to establish a visual brand is to find a professional photographer. They have the technical skills and eye for the shot that it takes to capture a brand through images. The price of commercial photography varies, but there’s always an investment. The payoff is genuine custom photography for your corporate brand – something to stand out amongst competitors as an authoritative, trustworthy figure in the market. 

Every business has different needs so it’s all about finding the right balance. In this phase, you’ll determine what it takes to build an effective, authoritative brand while keeping the business afloat.

Research Image Library Software

While determining how to acquire images, simultaneously research the various image library software providers or storage options. Images are key to an image library, but so are the platforms that host it. 

A digital asset management (DAM) system is the best option for an image library. It provides you with all the tools necessary to seamlessly upload, organize, edit, manage, share, and access images. There are other options out there like file-sharing services or online storage providers. 

When researching, consider the following: 

  • Your storage needs
  • Organization and management features
  • Search functionality
  • Sharing/security features

Develop A Folder Structure

One of the main purposes and benefits of an image library is improved organization and accessibility. To maximize your investment, create a folder structure that makes sense for your organization and team. The point is to make it as easy for someone to find what they’re looking for as fast as possible. No matter who they are. 

Folder structure can be established on your own (if you’re a small operation or leading the initiative) or through deliberation with your team. You can benefit from bouncing ideas around in a group setting. 

The easiest way to develop a structure is to find similarities between images and create groups as folders with subfolders, getting more granular as you go. For example, you can make different folders for different image types (headshots, lifestyle photos, advertising pics, etc.). Another example could be hosting all of your production stills for a specific ad campaign in one folder. 

example of folders in image library separated by photo type

Establish Standard File Naming Conventions

Diving deeper into the process, files hosted within the folders need to be named. It makes no sense to invest time and money into an image library where all the files are named by a random combination of letters and numbers. 

Creating standard file naming conventions makes sense and keeps files organized. The names should make it so your team understands exactly what the image is without ever having to open it. They should also be created in a way that makes the file easily searchable using the right keywords. 

You can use shorthand in your naming conventions, but it has to make sense for someone to find it in a quick search.

different files within folder of image library

Develop Metadata Best Practices

The most microscopic component of digital images, metadata is essential to organizing your files. Metadata is specific information about each image file that makes it easier to identify and access. 

Typical information that you input into metadata includes: 

  • Creation date
  • Owner name
  • File format
  • Purpose 
  • Location 
  • More specific info

Set Accessibility Restrictions

A great benefit of image libraries is that your team gains access to branded images. Even better, you can select key stakeholders to serve as administrators of the library. This helps centralize the structure of power and ensures only the right team members can access appropriate files. 

If there’s a set of images that are still in review, for example, restricting access from the general team ensures that no one uploads and posts an unfinished graphic accidentally.

Upload Initial Set Of Images

Once your structure is set and you have new images, upload them to the library. Make sure to properly name files, uploading according to folder and metadata guidelines. 

This forms the base foundation of your brand image library. 

Train Your Team

For a successful library, you have to make sure everyone on your team knows how to navigate the process. When everything is set in place, create a standard resource that can be used to train anyone in your company. 

Initially, training will be used to get your existing team up to speed on the new process. As time passes, you’ll be able to train any new hire as they join your team. This creates a consistent, efficient process. 

Regularly Update And Organize Image Library 

As with everything relating to branding, you need to maintain, update, and organize your image library regularly. An individual or a group of team members should be tasked with this responsibility.

Remove any assets that become outdated or irrelevant. Add all new assets with proper metadata into the appropriate folder. Thorough training materials and a structured process make this step easy for anyone to handle. 

dowload pop-up in image library

Why You Should Hire A Professional Business Photographer For Your Brand Image Library

Any asset – especially images – directly reflects your brand image. Whether intentional or not, the quality and content of images impact how the general public perceives your brand. Hiring a professional commercial photographer to capture custom, branded images is the best way to accurately represent your brand.

If you opt for stock photos or self-shot smartphone photography, you risk negatively impacting your brand. 

  • Generic stock photos can leave consumers perceiving you as an inauthentic, low-quality organization unwilling to invest in imagery that matches the quality of your brand. 
  • Self-shot Android or iPhone photography doesn’t make as strong of an impact if you don’t know how to bring out the elements of a brand through framing, composition, and color/lighting decisions. 

A professional business photographer is an investment. One that ensures your brand is equipped with high-quality, professional imagery for all marketing and promotional content. Professional branding photographers have years of technical practice behind the lens and experience in capturing the emotions of a brand through photography.

waitress in diner smiling to customers

Work With Casey Templeton To Create An Image Library For Your Brand

Now you have a better idea of what it takes to create an image library. While all of these steps help establish a structured plan of attack, you can approach your image library however you feel is best. 

At the very least, I hope you feel more comfortable about creating an image library for your brand. If you’re on a lower budget, you may not be able to afford a professional photographer. That’s why I mentioned stock photos and smartphones as backup plans. While a professional is the best-case scenario, any images are better than none. 

Casey Templeton Photography offers professional business photography services in the greater Nashville, TN area and beyond. Casey has years of technical practice behind the lens and business branding experience. Having worked with a variety of industries and business sizes, Casey is well-equipped to help your business establish a visual marketing presence. To learn more about image libraries or to get started on an engagement, fill out our contact form

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