Many small business owners hear the word “brand” and automatically assume that if you have your logo and a website, you’re set for branding.
However, logos, fonts, and website design are really just a small fraction of what your brand is.
As marketing guru Seth Godin has said:
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Your brand is what your customers remember about you. Photos can go a long way to enhancing those memories.
Here’s why photography helps your brand, plus a few tips on how to get started with brand-building photos.
Why original photography helps your brand
Professional photos are expensive. As a result, most businesses try to avoid them for as long as they can. But there are many reasons why getting professional photography is a wise marketing investment.
1. Photography tells a story (quickly!)
You’ve heard the famous quote: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This saying is famous for a reason. A photo can say more about your brand in one second than paragraphs and paragraphs of text.
Think about Apple’s slick product photography or Nike’s impactful athlete shots. Those images easily pop up in your memory when thinking of those brands.
While your logo, fonts, and colors are a portion of it, your story and the images and words you use to convey those stories are really what make a brand.
2. Your customers are used to high-quality photography
With the surge of Instagram and the sheer amount of images people consume through social media, the normal public (i.e. your potential client base) has grown accustomed to mentally weeding out poor-quality images in search of higher-quality images—especially ones that convey a story.
They probably don’t even realize they’re doing it, but if you’re using just so-so-quality images, you’re not being noticed.
Professional photographs—compared to stock photos or those you take yourself—are going to be much higher quality and much more impactful.
3. Photos create connections
I believe that which images you use to showcase your brand and yourself has become a top priority if you want to create the connection and interest that makes folks stop scrolling.
After all, we’re creatives in a crowded market. There are a lot of people jumping into the creative entrepreneur world, and that’s amazing. But the last thing you want to do is blend into the noise along with everyone else—that’s a fast way to burn out.
Jump out front with quality photography of you—yes, YOU—on your website and in your social media feed. Show people who you are, and not just the stuff you create.
Welcome people in and make them feel at home, and they will stick around and eventually end up buying your product or service. And the best way to do that is to give them access to you through great photos.
4. Professional photography gets you the photos you actually need
Need a stunning image for your Home page? Or a headshot for your About page? Working with a professional photographer, you can actually check off your list of most-needed photos.
Not only will this create a greater impact for your audience, it will also save you time in the future from having to look for the perfect stock photo.
By the way:
5. Stock photos don’t work
Any budget-conscious entrepreneur is already asking, “Can’t you accomplish all of this with stock photos?”
The short answer: no.
There’s tons of evidence that stock photos just don’t work as well as original photos. Real photos increase online sign-ups, increase ad click-through rates, and improve lead conversion.
That’s because stock photos lack authenticity. Because they were taken for a generic purpose, they make you look generic. They don’t showcase you or your brand, so they don’t showcase what value you can bring to your customers.
And anyone who’s been online for long enough can easily tell the difference between a photo that’s on brand and a photo that’s stock.
If you have to use stock photos, there are some ways to make the photos your own, such as:
- Editing the background
- Adding a filter
- Combining multiple photos to make original ones
However, this will only work if you’re great at editing photos. You’re much better off taking your own photographs.
What kind of photos help your brand?
Okay, so I’ve gotten you onboard with taking some marketing photos. Where should you start?
Here are some photos every creative entrepreneur should have:
- A modern headshot
- Goofy photos of you joking around (if you have a lighthearted, casual brand)
- Things you love that your client base does, too (this creates connection!)
- Behind-the-scenes shots of you creating—everyone loves to see how things work
- Your products
- Images conveying the stories you tell in your business—use these images with a great caption and you’ll create connection and engagement
That should be enough to populate your social profiles, your website, your proposals, and more.
How to take on-brand photos
The easiest way to do this, of course, is to find a branding photographer that works with small businesses—extra bonus points if they understand the creative industry.
And don’t just go out and take a couple of photos and think you’re good. Think about what you are photographing and how that will connect with your audience. Think about the stories you can share that will also tie into your images and make those clients think, “me too!” or “I want that!” or “I love her!”
For those just starting out who can’t afford the investment in a quality photographer yet, you can still do this!
Start by being strategic about the images you share. While you don’t have to become an amazing photographer right away, it’s easy to learn a little about light, cropping, and composition. Do this, and your photos will start to shine.
You can learn a bit more about how to take beautiful photos with the phone in your pocket by joining my free email course, Photography Tips for Non-photographers.