We process every image they see within the blink of an eye. Studies show that human beings assess images within 13 milliseconds. Each one communicates something to us—a message, an attitude, an emotion, or all of the above.
The images you choose to represent your business—brand imagery—make an impression on your audience. The sentiment of that impression will pull customers closer to you or push them away.
People rely on brand imagery—consciously or subconsciously—to assess professionalism, the quality of the product or service, and whether a business aligns with their preferences. If your brand imagery does not generate a positive response, the audience will ignore anything you offer.
When you finish this article, you will be able to:
- Select brand imagery that resonates with your target market
- Know what it takes to choose professional images
- Understand the different types of brand images and uses for each
What Is Brand Imagery?
First, let’s be clear on the difference between brand imagery and a brand image. Brand imagery consists of a collection of images that represent a business. Together, these images form the visual component of a brand identity.
The term brand image speaks to the perception people have of a business in the marketplace.
Brand imagery includes a logo, photographs, website images, and all other visual elements. In addition, infographics, slide presentations, and social media posts are brand images too. I’ll go into more detail on each of these in a section that follows.
How to Choose Brand Imagery
Before choosing brand imagery, the brand’s identity needs to be clearly defined. Without clarity, it’s impossible to select imagery without understanding how those images will impact the brand’s perception.
The goal of each visual is to support the brand persona. To illustrate, we can look at two examples.
The first is Coca-Cola:
The second example is Pepsi:
Both brands cater to the same audience—cola drinkers. However, the companies communicate with that audience from contrasting angles. For example, Coca-Cola uses its brand imagery to connect with consumers who want to “make a difference” globally, while Pepsi aims for those who appreciate an All-American lifestyle.
Coke and Pepsi are direct competitors, yet their choices for brand imagery are likely to attract different psychographics within the target market.
Also, notice how colors work together in the Pepsi ad. The background wall, food trays, and even the models’ clothing blend with Pepsi’s brand colors. Yet, Coca-Cola has chosen not to use the red for which the brand is famous.
The purpose of your brand imagery is to convey a mood and message to your audience. Therefore, the colors and context of the images you select should align with that objective.
Qualities of Brand Imagery
Creating powerful brand imagery is a combination of art and science. For that reason, a checklist of the details involved will help make the process simpler.
Here is a list of characteristics to address and questions to ask about each image that will make the process easier:
- How will you use the image?
- Does the image build more brand value in some way?
- Does the content make sense for the brand identity?
- Do the colors match the brand?
- Does the overall appearance make the brand look more professional?
- Does the image look generic and bland or bold and compelling?
- Is the image simple and easy to process?
- Does the image build differentiation in some way?
- Does the image reflect expertise, authority, or trust?
- Is the image available for use by other brands? If so, you may choose to avoid it.
4 Tips for Selecting Brand Imagery
Brand Imagery Tip #1: Align It With Your Brand Persona
Think about the image and reputation you want to create for your business. How do you want your target audience to see you? How your prospective customers—and even competitors—view your business will significantly impact your success in the marketplace. Your brand’s identity is also a foundational component in marketing and advertising. Keep in mind that once you establish an image, it will be difficult to change
Brand Imagery Tips #2: Align It with Your Target Audience
It’s often difficult for people to describe what it is about a website, advertisement, social media profile, or other visual that attracts them or turns them off. But the images a business incorporates in its brand communication significantly impact the opinions prospective customers will have.
Here are some questions to help you with this step:
- What is important to your ideal customer?
- What other types of businesses, products, and services do they buy?
- Can you envision them and what their lives are like?
Brand Imagery Tips #3: Create a Mood Board
Creating a mood board will help you determine the themes of your brand imagery, colors, tones, and style before getting too detailed. It’s an efficient way to begin, modify, and finalize your designs without expending too much time and energy.
Here are some examples of imagery tone:
And here some examples of themes:
- Black and White
There are as many tones and themes as there are personality types and styles. Engaging in the mood board exercise will allow you to experiment and find what you believe will work best for the brand image you want to create.
Brand Imagery Tip #4: Use a Variety of Images
Any visual representation of your brand is considered a form of brand imagery. This isn’t limited to pictures. Graphics and video are also included. The following is a list of the different image types and suggestions for how to use them.
Stock Photos: Sites like Unsplash and Desygner offer an assortment of high-definition images for public use, usually free of charge. However, be aware that these sources are available to everyone, including your competitors. For this reason, it’s best to limit the use of them. As always, be sure you have permission to use any stock images you find. Certain licensing restrictions may apply.
Screenshots: This is a good way to implement custom imagery, especially if you want to share information from your website or presentations. However, be quality is of primary concern. Screenshots tend to have low resolution or poor quality, which will negatively impact your design.
Charts, Graphs, and Infographics: These are great for providing statistical data or other information related to trends and numbers. Be sure they are clear and easy to understand without being cluttered or contain too much information.
Photography: Custom photography is one of the most effective ways to create and develop your brand image. Using photography gives you an opportunity to be creative, demonstrate your work, and stand out from competitors. After all, you will be the only one using these images.
Custom Graphic Design: Like photography, an excellent opportunity to show off your creativity but with an artistic flare. While custom graphic design work can be costly, it can also make the biggest impact on visual branding.
Video: Videos are becoming more popular and are an integral part of your brand imagery. Like all other images, video should align with your brand colors, theme, and overall messaging.
Brand imagery that resonates with your target audience sets the tone for the quality of work you do and is a critical component of your brand identity. In addition, allowing your personality and creativity to show through your imagery sets you apart from competitors. Use a variety of images such as custom photography, screenshots, charts, graphs, and video.
Email me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help.
Until next time,
More Branding Insights
By Chris Fulmer |
Learn more about brand strategy.
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