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What's Brand Photography & Why Is It Important? (A Guide)

Brand Identity
min read
In this article

Contrary to popular belief, branding is more than just a logo, colours and fonts. Your visual identity is actually made up of lots of different elements, including photography, but what is brand photography, why is it important and how can you get some for your own brand?

What is brand photography?

Brand photography is a suite of professional images that represent your business visually, and fit with your brand identity through their use of colours, tone, props, sets and more. These can include photos of you, your team, your products, your process, your space and other things that make your business unique.

Maybe you’ve had a branded headshot taken before for your LinkedIn profile or website about page, and while a beautiful, professional headshot is important, it’s just one piece of the branding puzzle. To make your business look it’s best, you’ll want a range of consistent, well-crafted photos that will keep your business looking tip-top across all of your marketing material over time. And if you're a visual learner, have a quick look around my website to get a better idea of what good brand photography is.

Brand photography vs other kinds of photography

When you’re looking into photography services, you might come across other options like commercial, business, portrait or headshot photography. While these are all valuable in their own ways, as a creative business, brand photography is what you want to be looking out for.

Commercial, business, portrait, and headshot are all relatively formal formats of photography. Think team photos, people in suits, bright offices, and anything else that gives big corporate energy. In contrast, brand photography is all about communicating your message and showing off who you are in a much more casual, dynamic way.

Where other kinds of photography would likely have you sat behind a desk or stood against a blank wall, doing business-only tasks, brand photography could see you in your home office, favourite cafe, studio space, or other locations engaging in any number of activities that tell your audience a bit more about you and can be used across your business in a variety of ways. This personality-driven approach to photography will make your brand stand out and show off who you are much more than a single headshot or stuffy commercial shoot would.

Why brand photography is important

Brand photography makes your brand more relatable and human

82% of consumers trust a company more — and 77% are more likely to buy from a company — if the founder uses social media. This isn’t to say that these photos are just for your social media profiles, or that they should all include you, but to point out that people want to connect with other people, relate to others and see the face behind the company.

Now I know what you’re probably thinking, and as someone who HATES having their photo taken, I hear ya! But I’ve realised how important it is that people know who I am, conquered my fear over time, found photographers who make me feel comfortable and confident, and have now had multiple successful photoshoots! So from one non-supermodel business owner to another, I can assure you that it’s doable, not as scary as you think, and totally worth it! (Just have a browse through this website and you’ll see some of my brand photos – I think they turned out okay, don’t you?!)

When you and/or your team can be seen throughout your marketing, potential clients will be able to see who they would be buying from or booking in with, get a glimpse into the process, and imagine themselves being a part of that experience. Photos with humans in them take your products and services from seeming unattainable, conceptual or hypothetical, and bring them into reality as something tangible, achievable and desirable.

Brand photography sets a fab first impression

People form a first impression in just 50 milliseconds, so everything you share has to wow and do it fast! Good quality, consistent, professional brand photography is going to help capture potential customers in a flash as they’ll see that you appreciate attention to detail, high quality content, consistency and great aesthetics. I know that if something is presented well, I’m more likely to be convinced without even knowing anything about the product or service!

Brand photography increases engagement

We all know by now that visual content goes a long way and has a much better engagement than text-only content, and if you’re not convinced yet, here are some cold, hard facts for ya. 65% of marketing execs say photos, videos, illustrations, and infographics are key to communicating your brand story; Facebook posts from brands that included images earned 87 percent of all engagements; 51% of B2B marketers prioritize creating visual assets as part of their content marketing strategy; tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images; articles with an image once every 75-100 words received double the social media shares as articles with fewer images; Facebook posts with images see 2.3x more engagement than those without images. (Hubspot) On board yet?

You need images and more importantly, you need good quality, on-brand images.

Consistency is key, and photography increases brand consistency

You might have your logo, colours and fonts down, but if your photography doesn’t match, you’re in trouble. Having all of your visual elements work together cohesively is vital in maintaining brand consistency. Brands that are consistently presented are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience brand visibility and 90% of consumers expect their experience to be consistent across all channels and devices used to interact with brands.

Now you may be able to find some good stock images that kind of work but chances are they aren’t quite on-brand, or if they are, a hundred other people are using the exact same photos in their creative business. Stock imagery is good when you’re first starting out, and I still use some from time to time, but it should be the goal to have your own, unique and perfectly on-brand photos to use instead so you can really stand out!

When investing in professional brand photos makes sense

When you’re just starting out, photography is something you can definitely DIY to save some pennies and keep the cash flowing. But if you want to take your business to the next level and you’re not a photography pro yourself, there’s only so long that you can get by on stock images and self-timer photoshoots before you run out of on-brand ones hundreds of other people haven’t used before or reached the limits of your click and run abilities.

Here are some great times to consider investing in professional brand photography:

  • When rebranding your business if your strategy or visuals are changing, this is the perfect time to get some new photos that align too to make sure everything is consistent. When I clarified Maker & Moxie’s strategy, rebranded, and niched into working with artists, one of the highest priorities on my to-do list was a photoshoot that highlighted my personality, incorporated the new colours, and showed me working with other creatives. Those photos have been the best photos I’ve ever had!
  • Before launching something new – whenever you’ve got something to announce, you’re going to need to market it. As we know, a picture is worth a thousand words, so having a set of new photos is an exciting way to wow your audience when you launch your brand new product or service.
  • If you’ve had a significant visual change – brands evolve, but we do too! If you’ve recently had an update like a fab haircut, snazzy new glasses, or changed up your style, for example, this can be a great time to get some new photos that capture an up-to-date image of you so your audience know who they’re engaging with online and in person.
  • As you add new members to your team – As you grow your business, chances are you might end up adding people to your team, even as part time or contract employees. If you want to keep things consistent and show up as a team, it’s a good idea to get photos taken that match, and even get some of you working together. As even more people join, you can either get photos of them taken to match or take the opportunity to all refresh your look and update everyone’s individual and group photos.
  • When redesigning your website – Your website is the hub for your brand and the best place to make a brilliant first impression, so if you’re in the process of redesigning your website, this is the perfect time to update your photography too. Not only will you elevate the quality of your online presence and align your website with your brand strategy, but your web designer with love you when they’ve got amazing images to work with (or you will if you’re designing it yourself!)
  • Once every 1–2 years – If you don’t have any significant events prompting a need for new photos, it’s a good rule of thumb to get some updated images every couple of years. This keeps things fresh, ensures you’re not using the same photos over and over again, and allows you to update your images as you grow and evolve as a person.

Where you can use brand photography

I get that maybe you’re wondering where you could possibly use all of these photos and you’ll totally want to get your money worth if you’re investing in a photographer, so here are a few ideas for how you can use these images once you have them:

  • As your social media profile photos, especially if you’re a team of one, or your brand is really personal, like a life coach or blogger.
  • For Instagram photos
  • In your Instagram stories
  • To show who you are on your about page
  • In blog posts
  • As the graphics for your paid ads
  • To show your process
  • As the sign-off of your email newsletter alongside your name
  • On one side of your business card
  • To introduce yourself in a webinar
  • On the team page of your website
  • Throughout a PDF opt-in
  • For a client thank you note
  • As part of your PR/Media/Press package so others can write and share about you and your business
  • In your email signature
  • As podcast artwork
  • In your online course content

The options are endless!

How to get started

Hopefully by this point you agree with me about how important brand photography is, but what happens now? How do you plan your next photoshoot?

1. Understand the story you want to tell

One of the biggest mistakes people make when designing their brand identity is diving in without any strategy behind it. Before you even think about taking any photos, you need to know who you are, what your brand is about, what your audience is into and what you want them to think, feel and do when they see these photos or any elements of your visual identity. Are you a cute, whimsical children’s book illustrator appealing to publishers, wanting them to feel excited, inspired and entertained by your service? Or maybe you’re a hyper-glamorous, high-end soap brand hoping to capture the attention and dollars of high-rolling department store managers? Whoever you are and whatever story you’re trying to tell, it should be unique and clear to you before you get your photos taken so that you don’t waste your time, effort or money on something that doesn’t fit. Make sure to have a clear brand strategy and consider collating a moodboard for your photoshoot before you start looking for photographers and preparing for your shoot.

2. Download the free Ultimate Branding Checklist

If you want to know everything that goes into brand photography and your brand as a whole to create a cohesive image around those photos, download The Ultimate Branding Checklist. The Ultimate Branding Checklist is a free step-by-step guide for creative entrepreneurs who want to get their branding on track. From establishing your brand strategy, to designing your visual identity and sharing your brand with the world, this 40+ page checklist packed full of info and resources will show you exactly what to focus on at each phase of your branding journey. It will help you get a clear picture of what goes into building an unforgettable brand & what it all means, know where to start and what to work on, and start working on your brand so you can make progress towards your dream! The Ultimate Branding Checklist is the guide to all things branding for creatives and it’s 100% free – grab yours here.

3. Create a basic list of key shots you want to have

You probably don’t need to know a full list of the shots you will take as your photographer will likely help you with that, and some might just happen naturally throughout your shoot, but it’s good to come with a basic outline or plan for what types of photos you’ll need before you start taking them. This might include headshots of you and your team, photos of your desk and surrounding workspace, snaps of the office dogs, flatlays of your opt-ins, individual shots of each of your products or other general ideas. If you know exactly what team members need to be involved, or the specific products you need photos of, note these too so you can make a plan and ensure nothing important is missed.

4. Set your budget

Brand photos are an investment, but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank. In order to make sure this is the right investment for you and you’re going to get a return on that investment, you need to set a budget for this project to outline what you’re willing and able to spend before diving in.

First, make sure this is the right time for you to be making this investment. It can be tempting to jump in and hire a photographer to get professional photos taken, but if you aren’t generating sales yet or don’t actually have the money, it’s better to spend the time and resources working on attracting customers and marketing your business first.

If you’ve got some money set aside and you’re ready to go, then take a look at how much you’re willing to spend. I’d recommend having a look at some photographers in your area to get an idea of the range of prices they charge so you have a ballpark to start from.

If you’re feeling hesitant about setting your budget and investing in your photography, think about how much you’ll need to sell to make it back. It might mean selling 10 of your most expensive product, or just booking one client, for example. This can either help you feel more confident when you see what it could mean to have this asset and how easily you’ll get your money back with it, or make you think a bit more carefully about what you spend.

5.  Prepare your outfits, props, and/or products

To prepare for your photoshoot, there are a few things you’re going to need to get ready beforehand.

If you’re a product-based business, you’re going to want to get your goods all prepped and ready to roll. That might mean cleaning them, packaging them up, creating more, or anything else you need to do to get them looking their best. You may also want to gather any on-brand backgrounds, props, or other nicknacks to decorate around them, show off your brand, and fill in the space.

For service-based businesses, the most important thing for you is to show your services in action. This means having other people in your photos so that your audience can see you “working” with others. So before your photoshoot, you’re going to need to organise who those people could be.

Pro tip: my friend and I combined our photoshoots together so we could be in each other’s photos! I had my individual photoshoot, then she joined me for some shots working together. Then we swapped. Our photographers were a team of two as well, so they jumped in some too to add some variety. It made for a super efficient day for us and the photographer, and we both got images with pretend clients in them! Highly recommend if you’re thinking about how to minimise costs and get someone else to be in your photos.

6. Find a good photographer

Now it’s time to make it happen! If you don’t already have a photographer in mind, have a look around and find someone who does brand photography, whose work you enjoy, and who you get along really well with. The most important thing, especially if you are going to be getting photos of you and your team, is to work with someone who makes you feel comfortable and you can have fun with, because this will show in the photos.

If you’re not sure where to find a photographer, start with asking for recommendations from other business owners or people in your industry that you know. It’s always easiest to work with someone who comes highly recommended! Otherwise check in Facebook groups, search on Instagram, or explore communities that you’re a part of for people who could help. Last but not least, you can’t go wrong with a good Google search. Look up brand photographers in your area, check out their work and get in touch if you want to learn more!

Lights, camera, action!

With your plans outlined, your budget set, and your photographer booked, all that’s left now is to strike a pose! Don’t forget to take your shot list with you, bring a good playlist along to keep the energy up, and most importantly, have fun.

And if you’ve read this far down and you still feel lost, I’m here to help. Join me and your fellow artists and makers in The Next Level Creative where we can plan your photoshoot together, workshop your shot list, talk through your budget, see how others have done theirs, and more. Enrol here now to get your questions answered right away.

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December 1, 2018



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