5 Tips to Develop Your Brand's Photography Style Guide
By Laura Box - 6 min read
With research suggesting that people are more likely to remember content they’ve seen in images, rather than text, it’s crucial that the photography representing your business perfectly reflects your brand.
In order to achieve the right visual style for your brand, a photography style guide is essential. These tips will help you develop a style guide that will ensure your brand will deliver a lasting message.
Let’s compare two world-class universities: London’s Goldsmiths, a university focused on arts and humanities and progressive, trendsetting thought, and Harvard, a traditional Ivy League university, famous for its business and law schools. Each of the universities want to attract a different audience, and what they include in their photography highlights this. Goldsmiths aims for abstract, unique, and high saturation images, seen on its homepage. The composition of these images, which is often a little quirky, is a signal for potential students that they’re trying to do something different to traditional universities.
Comparatively, Harvard, which is a university steeped in tradition and honour and process, is more likely to have typical photos of classrooms, their students and Professors, in order to demonstrate their trustworthiness and the engagement of their cohorts.
It’s important that you have rules for your photo composition so that your company’s aesthetic is maintained. Telecommunications company, Orange, outlines how photos should appear for all their brand purposes. They ask photographers to avoid staged photos of people staring at the camera and use engaging images of people enjoying themselves. Instead of showing their product, they show the feeling or the result their product will deliver to people. They also ask that photographs avoid clutter, leave space for their logo in the bottom right, and keep it as natural as possible. By having succinct and strict photography guidelines, they manage to develop a coherent and reputable brand image.
Tone And Palette
It’s important the tone of your photo incites the feeling you want your audience to associate with your brand. For a calming, high quality effect, high-exposure images with a large depth of field, creating out of focus foreground and background should be used. Minimalism and warm and neutral tones are important to create a sense of relaxation. Take luxury body-care brand Aesop. Their use of warm tones and minimalism reflects their packaging and each photograph across their website and their instagram reflects this aesthetic.
Contrastingly, beauty chain Sephora uses sharp focus, bright colours, high contrast and dynamic images to create a sense of joy, excitement and youthful playfulness around their products. Your decisions around palette highlight your brand’s vibe, so it’s important these decisions are executed in your photography as well.
The people in your photos communicate a lot, as humans are hyper-intelligent when it comes to recognising emotions on other people’s faces. This can be used to quickly communicate how your product makes people feel. For example, university images are likely to show people looking intrigued or engaged - demonstrating the interest they feel in their studies; while images from a day spa are likely to depict relaxed, serene people. Swap those styles around and suddenly things get very confusing - why are the students asleep at university, and what kind of day spa makes you sit exams?
Tell Your Story
Every aspect of photography helps to illuminate your brand’s story. You should know how you want your audience to perceive your brand. So now, rather than telling them, it’s time to use your images to show them.
PwC, one of the world’s largest professional services firms, aims to be seen as trustworthy and reliable. To do this, every one of their photos needs to fit their brief, which is simply “world reportage”. What this means is their images - along with fitting the tone and feel relevant to the brand - should also feel ‘editorial’ by nature: relevant, timely, in the moment and newsworthy. By representing a ‘reportage’ style, PwC reflects the style of news publications, giving them credibility, relevance and trustworthiness. Think about how you want your audience to perceive you and how you can tell a story through photography to achieve this.
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