Humans can recognize an image in as little as 13 milliseconds. Compared to the time taken to decipher text, this is lightspeed-forgive the pun.
Branding photography elevates your business over the competition. When you communicate your brand visually, you cater to customers who lack the time to read walls of text. Which, let's face it, is almost all of us!
You may wonder about the benefits of brand photos. How can you use photography in marketing? Is it worth the investment?
Read on. It's time to zoom into brand photography.
Branding Photography: What Is It?
Brand photography is a dynamic medium to communicate your ethos, style, intent, team values, and visual identity to your audience. It blends multiple styles of photography from portraits to still-life to abstract imagery.
All of these styles mix together with one purpose: to promote your brand.
Many companies use photography in marketing to show their products. However, this is only the edge of the frame. You can use photography to share events, team headshots, production processes, office spaces, customer reactions, and promotional campaigns.
Branding photography should act like a high-quality pane of glass. Let your target audience see what your brand is about with minimal distractions. Brand photography can be stylish, but its main function should always be communication.
Benefits of Photography in Marketing
We've glimpsed a few benefits, but now it's time to swap lenses and get specific. Business thrives on metrics, revenue, and tangible results. Why exactly should you bother with brand photos?
Brand recognition helps the biggest brands stand out. You need to be instantly recognizable to your audience to beat your competition. Logo design is key, but brand photography shows how your team operates, what your values are, and what is coming next.
Be as quirky as you like. Flaunt your vibrant personality. Or be sleek, elegant, and professional to suit your business style.
Logos aim to promote your brand in a flash. Branding photography lets your audience get to know you and your team. It gives them a sense of fellowship before they commit to your brand.
Online business will never match the feel of walking into your favorite store, non-profit, or restaurant. Real-life experience stimulates all the senses. While even brand photos fall short of that, they do give customers a more immersive experience than most other mediums.
Images of your team, office, or store help ease anxiety over brand reliability. You gain trust when your audience sees you in person. Teamed with videos, podcasts, and social media, photos add tangibility to your business.
Smartphone photos look high-quality on tiny screens. The top models even boast megapixel counts high into the stratosphere. However, megapixels do not equal quality in the world of photography.
Most smartphones use sensors measuring around 4.54 x 3.42mm. This tiny surface area limits how much light the sensor can take in, regardless of the astronomical pixel count. Images look flatter, noisier, and less dynamic than those taken on a DSLR or mirrorless.
By contrast, full-frame cameras have sensors equal to 35mm film (24mm x 36mm). This maximizes the available light the camera has to create an image. The result is better low-light performance, higher dynamic range, and clean, tack-sharp images.
Influence Your Audience
Few things spark a trend like powerful images shared on social media. Brand photos used in smart marketing can rush your followers to your business for more. Think of how many social media influencers, fashion brands, and non-profits benefit from well-crafted social media photography.
You could ask your customers to share their own images to augment your own content. Together with your brand photos, these will add a touch of character, acting as visual referrals for potential leads.
Research your audience's style preferences using analytics, surveys, and social media interaction. Cater your brand photos to their style to increase engagement. Create your own trend with unique images that demand attention, then carve out your market niche!
An optimized site with all of the above elements helps convert leads to customers. Existing customers will be more likely to stick with you. Your remarketing campaigns could include personalized images that may boost chances of repeat purchases, sign-ups, or engagement.
It is vital to include alternative text for your images to cater to visually impaired users. This widens your target audience but also ensures you comply with web accessibility standards.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Branding photography is cost-effective when compared to the ROI it offers. It is worth investing in professional photography services to truly stand out from the crowd!
Hubspot reports that images and videos are the top ROI boosters in the media world. The same study shows that 47% of marketers use images in their strategy, while 50% also use video. Now is the time to leverage the power of brand photography and boost your results.
How to Use Photography in Marketing
Before you rush out to find a photographer, choose which brand photos you need. This depends on your aim, business, and audience. What do you want to convey?
Here are some of the main options.
The foundation of office-based brand photography. Headshots of key team members, partners, and happy customers work wonders to personalize your brand. Pick casual, professional, or offbeat photos to show off your personality.
You could take seasonal images or use topical themes to engage with viewers. Learn what media content your audience likes, then craft images to echo these trends. What is popular right now?
Show viewers your team's cohesive nature. This makes your brand look solid, reliable, and positive. Nothing speaks to the ethos of your company more than genuine smiles in a vibrant team photo.
Try to use shots of your team at work. Candid photos are more natural than posed photos, and your audience will see the difference.
Events and Promotions
Public relations events are primetime for branding photography. Make your audience feel like they missed out on a fun whirlwind of an event. Create images that attendees want to share with their friends, then watch your online engagement go through the roof.
Take images of every key aspect of the event. This includes action shots, food and beverage, customer interaction, promotional graphics, and demonstrations. Pair photos with high-quality videos for full coverage.
Production photos show true transparency to your audience. They can see how your product or service manifests from start to finish. Get down to the nitty-gritty to boost trust and authenticity.
Like team photos, production photos of people work best when taken candidly. Inform your team that a photographer will be there for a short time, but ask them to continue as normal.
Products and Services
High-definition product photos set you apart from others who sell the same thing. We have all seen enough product photos in magazines to know what works. Ask your photographer to create a personal style that suits your brand.
Brands that offer services can use photos of the service itself. Show a delivery to a happy customer or a trainer helping a client master a fitness routine. If you offer a technology service, show the tech in action and how it benefits the user.
Workspace photography is like production photography, except it aims to give your viewers a tour of your business. This adds credibility and reassures your viewers that you operate out of a real office, not your parents' basement.
Professional photographers know how to work with all kinds of office lighting, layouts, and styles. They can make your space look the part. You could even create a 3D tour if your media company offers it.
Find a Photographer
Okay, time to get started with branding photography. There are over 26,034 professional photographers in the USA, so you have plenty of choice. Picking the right photographer for your project will help you succeed.
Here are a few tips to help you choose.
Ask how many years your potential photographer has been in business. Talent is vital in creative arts, but there is no substitute for experience. The range of clients they have worked for helped craft their skills.
Be sure to ask what niche projects they have completed. Try to find a photographer who specializes in your type of business. If this is hard to achieve, ask what types of environments they normally work in.
We looked at the importance of sensor size earlier, but make sure your photographer uses top-quality gear. Full-frame DLSRs or mirrorless cameras are the standard kit for professional photographers. You will see the difference in resolution when the final product reaches you.
APS-C cameras have smaller sensors than full-frame models at around 25.1×16.7 mm. This format crops images by 1.5x to 1.6x. Results can be excellent, but for true quality, full-frame is best.
Professional DSLR and mirrorless cameras let you save files in RAW format. RAW files are uncompressed and retain the maximum amount of data from a photo. Photographers can edit RAW files while preserving the original, unlike JPEGs which have already stripped away data to reduce file size.
Lenses, Lights, and Software
Your photographer should have an array of full-frame lenses for each shot type. Products and portraits suit 50mm; 16-35mm gives wide views of interiors; 24-70mm takes versatile event shots, for example.
Lighting kits help convey the mood in your brand photos. Ask your photographer what lighting setup they use. For some images, natural lighting works well, but fluorescent office lighting can make skin tones look pallid.
Your photographer will use editing software to perfect the images. You can ask them to keep a natural look or stylize images to your needs. Common editing platforms are Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
This is where a photographer's skills shine. You should view portfolios before you pick a photographer to see how well their style fits your project. Some photographers can adapt to any setting, but many specialize, so try to match your choice to your needs.
Be aware that portfolios show the photographer's best work. Results may vary on your actual project. Feel free to ask for extra images before you choose your photographer.
Quality of Service
Do they offer any guarantee of service? How much time will they spend on your project? Dedicated photographers will make sure their client is happy before they call it a day.
Ask if they upload photos for you or send you the edited images. They should make backups of the shoot to ensure files are safe. They may be able to give you a copy of the backups on a USB drive for safekeeping.
We put this near the bottom because experience counts more in photography. However, a degree in photography or visual arts shows a commitment to the profession. Older photographers may have skipped this step, but photography degrees are now common in many universities.
Look for links to associations like the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) or American Photographic Artists (APA). Like higher education, this affiliation shows the photographer is 100% committed to their art.
Check online reviews before you choose your photographer. Try to find brand photos from clients with similar projects to yours. You can use keywords to filter your search: style, service, speed, quality, and equipment.
Ask your peers, partners, or colleagues for referrals too. Word of mouth remains one of the top forms of marketing for a reason; bad reviews spread fast! Be sure to reward quality work with a positive review to help the best photographers rise above the rest.
Cumberland Marketing is here to help you integrate branding photography into your business. From our base in Kingsport, Tennessee, our team handles all your multimedia needs. Boost your brand's reach with image, video, web design, social media, and robust outreach strategies.
Let our experts ease the pressure on your in-house team. When your marketing is in safe hands, you can focus on other business areas, raising revenue across the board. Our client case studies speak for us.