What is Professional Branding Photography?
Honestly, it’s as simple as it sounds.
All the phrase “Brand Photography” really means, is pictures for your business. It’s anything you use for your online presence, your ads, your… all the things. That means branding photography can include headshots, product shots, lifestyle images, and more. If it’s something you can imagine yourself posting on social media to promote your services, it’s a brand photo. Same for those of you with product based businesses, who need product photography for your Etsy pages or your e-Commerce site! Literally any and all of those photos are brand photos.
In fact, when you take pictures on your phone at an event you host at your business? You’re taking brand photos. Yes, what I’m saying is you’ve been taking brand photos this whole time, and calling them Instagram® Stories. Really, everything I’ve just said is kind of a spoiler for the rest of this post (oops) but we’re going to go through the content anyway, because it’s important!
Now that you know…
So, now that you know what brand photography is… where should you use it? What are the most important places to fully brand your business’s presence through imagery? And does it REALLY make all that much of a difference? Let’s get into it!!
The Difference Professional Brand Photography Makes
Let’s start at the beginning…
If you’ve worked with a professional brand designer, or any other pro who helps you brand your presence… you know the purpose of branding is consistency, and communication. But in case you haven’t gone through those steps, I’m gonna spell it out!
As small business owners, we’re living in an ever-growing pool of competition. Everywhere you look, there’s a new yoga studio, another newborn photographer, or a new law firm just opening its doors. And what this means, is that consumers have, as always, an ever growing number of choices when it comes to the service or product you provide. You’ve got competition, babe. Lots of it. So one of our jobs as business owners, is standing out from that crowd.
Branding Photo Sessions Help You Stand Out
Branding helps us do that. In fact, branding is the strongest way to stand out, and consistent branding can go a really long way for making an impression on your ideal clients. It allows you to create a unique visual identity (and identity through your messaging and values) that your clients will flock to. It makes you recognizable.
We see examples of this everywhere – think of your favorite coffee shop. Before you ever went there, whether it’s a local hole-in-the-wall or a big name store, you probably had an impression of what to expect, whether that impression came from the logo on their storefront, or the details on their website when you Googled “coffee near me”. Or in the case of Starbucks… from the endless inescapable ads everywhere all the time. (I said what I said).
The point though, is that big businesses put hundreds of thousands of dollars into creating and maintaining their brand identity. You don’t have to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into it, but you should definitely be paying the same level of attention to it that they are, if you want to stand out!
Where should you use your Brand Photos?
Short answer? Everywhere. And like I mentioned earlier, you’re most likely already doing it, whether you know it or not.
Brand photography can (and should) be used for:
This is an obvious one, but it’s also the most important. Your website is your digital storefront, no matter what you do. Just like we’re living in the age of constantly proliferating competition, we’re also in the age of endless Google searches. Before we go out to eat? Google maps. Before we go shopping? Google to check open hours. When we’re looking for a gift? You guessed it, GOOGLE SEARCH. And I bet you can think of ten examples of times you’ve searched for something, clicked on a website, and thought to yourself, “Nah, this one isn’t for me.” Maybe you were looking for home decor, and the first site you clicked on didn’t have the vibe you were going for. Maybe you were looking for a photographer, and their images were warm and moody when you were looking for something lighter and brighter. But that first impression? It was a visual one, and when you closed that tab, it was because you knew their brand didn’t align with your needs as a consumer. The opposite is also true, and I bet you can think of examples of that too! Think about a time when you found someone doing a thing online, and immediately knew that they were the business who could serve your needs. AKA, you loved their shit. I bet initially, that was a visual decision too.
And that’s what you’re doing when you use your brand imagery on your website. You’re creating that same decision point for your ideal clients.
Your Social Media
Social media uses of brand imagery are super similar to the way that you use them on your website. You’re creating a space with a curated tone that your ideal clients or customers will LOVE. It tells them what you stand for. It tells them what you do. But it also helps your profiles to align to what they’re looking for, and that helps them get through the proverbial door. If you’re a hair stylist, for example, your profile should show your work. But what about the background? What about your headshot in the little profile photo bubble? Do you take your pictures of finished styles against a white background? With the rest of your studio in the background? Do you have a wall covered in greenery that you use? The same goes for product based businesses. How do you style your product photos for social media? My point is, you’re already making some of these decisions, but working with a professional photographer can ensure that you’re making those decisions in the way that will appeal directly to your audience, instead of making them at random.
Your Physical Spaces
Not every business has a physical space that customers/clients visit while they’re working with you, and I get that. However, there are other ways that your brand imagery can sneak its way into the physical part of your business! If you *do* have a physical space, you can absolutely use your brand images on your wall, and inject the overall tone of your branding into that space. But if you’re an online business owner, what about your zoom background? What about the area where you take your product photos, if you don’t plan on having those professionally taken for you? And those are just a couple of examples, there are a million other ways you can integrate your brand imagery into physical spaces.
Although social media is a HUGE part of marketing these days, it’s not the only method!! Magazines and publications still exist. Business cards are still useful. Brochures and flyers give your potential customers more information about what you do, even if they’re just sending them to your website for even more. Poster boards are still in community centers, gyms, and grocery stores. And you can (and should) take advantage of those opportunities, whether free or paid! But when you do, you should look at each of those items (flyers, posters, etc) as a tiny window into your overall brand. So the images on them? Those images should be branded too. Maybe it’s a headshot. Maybe it’s images taken in your storefront or event space.
The same applies to online marketing outside of social media! Google ads are a thing, and if you want consumers to actually click them (because let’s be honest, they’re super annoying, and no one will convince me otherwise) you’re going to need to make sure that ad stands out. And as we’ve already talked about, standing out to your ideal client is about creating a tone. What did we say about creating a tone? Initially, it’s visual.
This list isn’t exhaustive!
There are definitely more ways to use your professional branding photography…
I could spend another seven thousand words talking about places you can use your brand images, but honestly I think you probably get the point by now! Brand photography has a role in almost every area of your business, and thinking about it intentionally is the best way to create a tone that appeals to your ideal people. You want that tone to bring them to you.
If you’ve gotten this far and you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, that’s totally okay. If you’ve been shooting photos for your business on your phone, and just straight up posting them, that’s okay. If you’re using iPhone photos on your website, that’s okay too. But it might be time to make a change. So reach out – let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about the tone that will help your ideal clients choose YOU, in a sea of people who do what you do.