Make it pretty and inspiring - image choices


This week I watched three excellent presentations by the folks at Getty Images and iStock.

The first, presented by Pam Grossman, was amazing. If you have an hour to spare and an interest in visual trends then I highly recommend it. Pam is a member of the global creative research team for Getty Images. Creative in Focus: Getty Images 2015 Visual Trends Briefing

The second webinar I watched was also really interesting and touched on some of the same points, some new. Guy Merrill presented this one, he's a senior art director at Getty Images which means he works with photographers to guide their photo shoots and source photos for Getty Images.

Lastly was a webinar presented by Rebecca Swift, Creative Planning - iStock and Julie Cottineau, CEO - BrandTwist, and was all about branding. 

This last webinar is probably most accessible to you as a small business owner. It talks about the brand being an intangible asset that creates tangible value. It's the experience that you bring your customer. It is so much more than your logo, colour scheme and font choice.

"A strong visual brand is distinctive and connects instantly with your customers. As a brand you need a strategy for your imagery - what emotional connection should your customers feel when they interact with you and your brand? If you come across as insincere, irrelevant or cliche you run the risk of turning your customers off immediately.

If you're a small business owner you will use visual content to communicate your message. It will convey the essence of your brand. Engaging, effective, meaningful visual communication helps to solidify your customer's perception of your business while helping to establish a powerful brand."

When searching for engaging, effective and meaningful images on a site like istock the following search terms may help.

Business is the most popular search term followed by family. Use keywords to find more compelling images and create a stronger story. Think conceptually.

Concept - the creative, younger business - the hip office = friendship, caring, relationships, doing more meaningful work.

Try combining the keyword business with 

  • instagram
  • retro-revival
  • lens flare
  • candid
  • digital composite
  • creative
  • authentic
  • conceptual
  • individuality
  • hipster
  • culture
  • community
  • elegance
  • craft
  • vitality
  • nostalgia

Other popular terms include creativity + sustainability or environmental responsibility. You could also try searching for heritage, legacy, expertise to find grainy dark close-ups of weathered hands making things to convey an artisanal quality to your brand.

Inventive, vision, inspiration, skill. These are other words to try.

Your words and images need to be telling a consistent story. One popular brand-story for small business is that of the Expert. In order to convey your expertise you will use a bolder more assertive tone. Everything is very much about the customer who appears in the foreground of images while the 'expert' (you or your business) appears in the background or is suggested to be enabling the customer experience. Large format images, often full-screen images and very rich imagery all support the 'expert' voice for the brand.

I'm working on a new project right now where our dominant message is summarised by these words:

Diversity, our passions, our dreams, all stages of the life cycle, answering our calling, fountain of youth, candid, not posed, embracing opportunities, vibrant, realistic, modern life, uplifting, inspiring, energising, optimistic. Our imagery will be light, airy, hopeful, healthy, active, all about relationships and living life to the full. We celebrate the small things in life. Images of families, all generations, people. Feeling in control.

I'm excited about taking the new project in a solid direction. Having these keywords in mind is helpful.

I definitely recommend you take a look at the webinars I've linked to above and as always give me a shout if there is something I can help with. I talk about branding in my training courses each Monday. Get personalised advice when you take part.