Images. The good, the bad and the blurry.
Updated: Mar 23
Images are one of the most essential assets for marketing; Yes, it's true. A picture can be worth 1000 words! Using images in marketing to engage with an audience is nothing new. In the medium of storytelling and advertising, humans have used images to illustrate a point for thousands of years. A good photograph can speak a thousand words to an audience. Images can communicate many ideas instantly. They can also convey an emotion that sometimes words can lack.
So what do your images say about your business?
A study carried out by PR News found that online content with suitable images gets 94% more views than those without. So bad images just look unprofessional and don't get as many views. At best, a bad image will make you look unreliable amongst your competitors. At worst, it will turn away customers and negatively affect sales. Poor quality images will cheapen your brand and communicate to your customer that your brand is impersonal and untrustworthy. Here is an example web page from the 007 Museum; this is their current web page. (3/2021)(left) I've done a quick makeover only using their existing images. Which is more appealing and professional when landing on their page. (right)
Choosing the right images for your business.
To choose the right images for your business, you need to understand what the image will be used for. There are basically 6 types of images to use. Each has its purpose as well as a wrong and right way of using them.
1. Product Photos
Product photos are what it literally means, photos of your products. Now, this can easily let your business down quickly if they are shoddy or generate sales for you if they look great.
Product photos can be created in 3 ways.
Deep etched (cut out) - the background removed -If you have a catalogue of products, it's usually best to have your products deep etched. The products should be photographed in the same way, with the same light and consistency. This will make your business look very professional and trustworthy.
Propped - set in a scene like a countertop - Displaying your products together as a showcase can look very smart. Keep the items around your products to a minimal and in the theme of what you are selling. Group product photos are great for landing pages of the same or similar products. Still, they should never be used for individual items in catalogues. It only confuses your customer of what they're purchasing.
Action - the product being used - These are great to use for landing pages or covers of brochures. Consumers like to purchase products that they can envisage using and enjoying themselves. Also, suppose you're creating a "how-to guide". In that case, action photos can help the customer understand and use your product, either making more sales or having more satisfied customers.
Source : Coco Cola
Along with high quality deep etched images, it's also a good idea to have some lifestyle shots that suit your business. These can be different from the action photos earlier mention as they do not need to contain your product. An example of this would be a car insurance ad. Car insurance isn't a physical product. Still, you could demonstrate it by having a photo of a car accident. Lifestyle images featuring people work well to evoke a powerful image. A picture of a human face can evoke trust, especially in an online culture where faceless interactions are lacking. Again this also helps the customer envisage themselves in the situation or using the product. If you employ people in your photos, you need to choose the right type of person in the image that suits your demographic. I once saw in a full-page ad for coal miners. A flawless young man with perfect fake tan skin, manicured nails wearing overalls that were clean and still had package fold marks on them appeared in the ad. Have you ever seen a coal miner?
"We respond and process visual data better than any other type of data. In fact, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual." Source: Thermopylae
An infographic is an illustrated image that demonstrates a concept or delivers information and statistics visually. Infographics are viral on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and blogs. They can position your company as the 'expert', as well as giving users a reason to share. Infographics break down information into digestible images, which make the content accessible and fun to interpret. Infographics are also loved by bloggers and news publications. Click here for an infographic specifically for this blog, "8 numbers that prove how important images are to havea successful business."
4. Real Photos
In the world of photoshop and filters, what is real anymore? If you are posting photos on social media of your workplace or products, keep the images natural. Sharing photos of your workplace, a customer installation or a customer using your product is a great way to get engagement online. This could differentiate your company from your faceless competitors and help to give your company a personality online.
5. Stock Images
There is a mega amount of stock images available online. Stock imagery has its place and presents a good option if your budget and resources are limited. Here are the top three I recommend.
Unsplash (free) - A good collection of photos for use from private photographers.
Shutterstock (membership)- Professional collection of photos
Storyblocks (membership) - Great collection of images, videos and music
However, your photos won't be unique, meaning you will have no brand identity as stock images often look cliched. You can also run the risk of your competitors using the same photos. I've seen this before with two banks! I would recommend that you take all your own photographs or if you can pay a professional photographer you won't regret it. Your content will look impressive and be original.
Memes are those images you see with some clever text on them. It can be just a photo or an animation, a GIF. Love them or hate them. They can be pretty smart and get attention for your business if done right. Make sure you think about what you're posting before you do. Maybe have them checked by a few friends or family first, as not everyone will have your same sense of humour, and it could do more damage to your business than good.
Source : Equestrian Movement
I'll finish this article on copyright. You can't just google an image and use it commercially. It's against the law in most countries. I know of an actual colleague of mine, a fellow photographer who found one of his photos in a very well known and popular travel guide. He contacted his solicitor, and not long after, was receiving royalties for every book that was and will be sold. Always make sure you have the copyright to use your photos for commercial use. It could save you a lot of money.
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