Brand photography backed by psychology

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Brand Photography is hugely important for your brand’s perception. You know why?

We’re bombarded with messages these days. It seems like everywhere we go and everything we do, there is a brand who’s trying to sell us something.

Don’t you ever feel like that?

It can be overwhelming and mentally exhausting.

It can be frustrating.

But how do you get in front of your ideal audience then?

After all, you do have an amazing product or service to sell.

 

Choose the right brand photography style with psychology in mind

Stand out and connect instantly

MIT neuroscientists find the brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds. – Source: MIT.edu

What does it mean for you?

It means your customers can understand the message behind your brand from your brand imagery so quickly, they don’t even know it.

It’s how you tap into their subconscious mind!

This makes brand imagery really impactful and something worth investing in, maybe even more so than copywriting.

After all, if we’re all busy and our attention span is just a few seconds, how much copy are your customers going to read? It can only be a couple of paragraphs, which is not enough to build your brand perception.

A picture is worth a 1,000 words

The human brain can understand the meaning of an image a lot easier and quicker than text, that’s for sure.

Scientists at MIT discovered even more interesting facts though:

“(..) the meaning of an image can be extracted even when an image is mixed up in a sequence of six or even 12 images presented at 13 milliseconds per image — a rate of about 75 frames a second.” – Source: MIT.edu

This means your potential customers can understand your message even if they scroll Instagram and stumble upon your imagery. They don’t even have to stop scrolling for the message to sink in.

But that’s not all:

“Another striking finding was that the effect is also seen when the question concerning the target is only presented after the sequence has been run, meaning that the brain can extract meaning even when there is no way to predict what will be shown,” – Source: MIT.edu

Which really is striking (we’re blown away).

It means your customers can understand the meaning of your message even if they don’t see the whole sequence of images, videos or slides.

It means the picture really is worth a thousand words, and you should use it to your advantage.

 

photography style ideal for your brand

Why is brand imagery so important?

Now that you understand just how impactful brand imagery can be it’s clear to see it can elevate your brand and connect you with your customers on a subconscious level.

Let’s explore just how it can impact your business:

Helps establish loyalty

When you’re consistently visible to your ideal customers, they see your brand imagery often.

And every time they see it, your message sinks in further, without them feeling it so much.

That’s exactly because of how quickly their brain processes information. It happens in their subconscious mind and without them actually realising it.

This in turn can increase brand loyalty, because your customers feel like your brand is “always on their mind” and something familiar.

We trust something we know a lot more than something we don’t.

Creates brand recognition

Consistent brand imagery can help you build brand recognition by simply repeating your message in a less boring way than copywriting would.

You don’t need to say the same thing all over again: if your brand imagery is consistent and you are working on your visibility on a regular basis, your customers will start to recognise your brand automatically.

Connects with people on a subconscious level

Know that feeling when you read a book and after glancing on a page you’ve seen a specific phrase and understood it, even though you don’t know where was it?

Has that ever happen to you?

That’s because your brain scanned the whole page and you could actually recall it if you had access to it.

It’s how rapid reading works.

We process images in our subconscious mind and since it happens so fast, the part of the brain responsible for logic doesn’t even recognise it until after it happens.

We may then feel like we know something or have understood something and it feels very real and solid.

This is one of the ways we can tap into the subconscious mind of our customers and really connect with them.

When your brand imagery sends the right message and your imagery style evokes feelings your customers relate to, you’ve got yourself a recipe for a deep connection with them.

 

Choose the right brand photography style with psychology in mind

Adds value to your brand

High-quality visuals make your brand look more expensive and trustworthy. It’s as simple as that.

We’ve seen it happen many times, where our clients elevate their brand visuals and suddenly they can raise their prices substantially, without doing anything else.

Don’t believe me?

Have a look below and choose the one you think feels of better quality:

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Better quality imagery elevates the perceived value of your products and your entire brand.

This is true not only for product-based businesses but services too.

Here’s a quick example:

It’s because of the mental shortcut that is in the works: if something looks more attractive, it must be better and worth more.

We use this shortcut all the time for almost anything: from choosing an apple in the grocery store to choosing between the coach we want to work with.

And it’s not that we judge people by their looks (although we do that too). It’s about the quality perception that extends from the quality of the images to the quality of the whole brand.

Brand imagery vs. brand image (perception)

A common misconception is that brand imagery is just another word for the “brand image”.

It’s not the case, though!

Brand image is a brand perception: it’s the image of the whole business, organisation. It’s how people perceive your business, your brand.

Brand imagery on the other hand is just visuals: photography and graphic.

Brand imagery, as you surely understand by now can directly affect your brand image.

Your customers will make judgements of your brand (and business) by the quality, energy and personality of your brand images.

 

Which brand photography style will your ideal customer connect with?

There are many different brand imagery styles and there isn’t one that’s better or worse. There is one that’s better for YOUR brand, though.

See, each person sees things differently and depending on their current state of mind, how they are feeling or their personality, they will connect with different visuals.

That’s why it’s so important to understand your ideal buyer persona (a.k.a. customer) so you know what is going to connect with them.

It all starts with how do we want to feel: that will determine what brand personality are we going to be attracted to.

 

Choose the right brand photography style with psychology in mind

 

How to find your ideal brand photography style

Your brand personality will directly affect the brand imagery style you should use to express it.

Brand personality is more than just words or brand voice or brand visuals. Those are the things that help you communicate it.

Your brand personality is your brand’s attitude, the way it behaves, speaks, the phrases it uses, the products or services it offers.

Its values, goals and the way it goes about reaching them.

 

1. Discover your brand personality

Your brand imagery is an expression of your brand personality.

It helps you connect with your ideal customers and touch their hearts.

And my absolute favourite and trusted tool to build a brand with personality are definitely Brand Archetypes.

It’s a tool created by the swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung (who worked with Sigmund Freud).

He noticed there are common themes showing up in his patients’ behaviour. He developed analytical psychology and Archetypes that are now used for branding.

Those are themes that show up in all of us and we all understand them subconsciously.

That’s why it’s so powerful.

Brand Archetypes help us focus and build a consistent character, but that’s not all.

Brand Archetypes help us differentiate our brands from others in our niche. You can use them to have a unique take on your niche, build a different personality.

It’s such a powerful tool, thousands of people have already taken our quiz to discover their archetype and apply this knowledge to their brand.

 

2. Choose the right energy and colours for your personality

Even though we group archetypes into 4 groups with a similar goal, there are different ways each of the archetypes goes about them.

Each of them has a distinct personality which can be expressed by using colours and the right energy of the imagery strategically.

Let me give you a few examples:

The Rebel is very bold and energetic, so we’d use imagery style that reflects that: with a lot of contrast, red or neon colours, black and white. Power poses and bold face expressions are perfect for this archetype.

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The Magician is more sophisticated and spiritual. To express this archetype we need to use photography that is spacious and under the cool colour theme. We want to evoke feelings like: connection with the universe, hope, empowerment, inspiration.

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The Girl Next Door is approachable, one-of-us and very friendly. To communicate her message we need to use visuals that tell a story of friendship, belonging, togetherness. A warm colour theme and smiling people will be perfect for this archetype.

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The Caregiver is all about becoming a better carer, care for ourselves, each other, our children, pets and the whole planet. Photography should tell the story of love, belonging, understanding, care and attention. Imagery should be kept in muted shades, preferably warm tones, and the energy should be quite low, focusing more on the moment of connection.

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The Hero, on the other hand, is all about rising to the challenge, overcoming challenges and reaching goals. It’s highly energetic, but in a different way than a Rebel. It’s not here to create a revolution and shock people but to master their skills, go to the next level, challenge themselves and achieve.

Brand imagery for this archetype should be energetic and contrasting, with powerful poses and facial expressions. Even though it’s so similar to Rebel, it looks different.

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These are just 5 of the 12 archetypes out there.

You can discover the brand imagery style for each here.

 

3. Poses and expressions

The way people behave on photography or even their facial expressions matters a lot. Your models can have power poses and they will look powerful and maybe even a bit intimidating (which is what you may want).

On the other hand, people in the photos can have delicate facial expressions and look friendly and approachable.

If they look in the distance and are serious, they may look dreamy and calm, which will evoke different feelings.

Have a look at some of these examples below and tell me in the comments what does it feel like to look at them, and what differences you can see.

 

Choose the right brand photography style with psychology in mind

4. Photography Composition

Having rules for your photography is really important because it helps keep it consistent even though you may create many photoshoots over the years of having your brand.

For example, you may want people to have similar facial expressions, or poses.

You could also want people on photos not to look too staged, but rather naturally.

On the other hand, for some brands, looking in front of the camera and being staged is exactly what reflects their brand personality.

Do create these rules so it’s easier for you to keep consistent and for your photographer to understand your vision. When you discover your Brand Archetype it all becomes a lot easier to figure out.

5. Backgrounds, setups

Will your brand photoshoot be better outside, or in the studio? This is a question that is hard to answer without knowing more about what you want to achieve.

Being outside may be better for the Explorer or Innocent, but shots in the studio may work as well. It will be of course more challenging to shoot, so it may not be the best option for some brands, but results can be amazing.

If you have a beautiful lifestyle set up in the studio, you may create really stunning shots that will reflect your brand personality very well.

 

Choose the right brand photography style with psychology in mind

6. Tell your brand story

Photography can play a big part in telling your brand story, so discovering what it is will be your next step.

Now that you know it, you can use photography to express it.

For example, the Creator brand’s stories will revolve around expressing yourself and being creative. That’s why having pictures showing people being creative, creative & innovative setups and the right colour palette and posing will portrait Creator brands the right way.

Here are some examples:

For the Magician, the brand story is all about transformation, so the photography should feel spacious and magical.

It doesn’t mean it has to feature stars or unicorns, though!

You can show magic by photos that are creative, kept in a cool tone, with added purple tones, with people looking somewhere in the distance.

 

Choose the right brand photography style with psychology in mind

 

If you’re a Sage brand, your brand story is learning and getting to know the truth. Your photos could be “reportage” style, which means they are not staged and look natural, as you were reporting the truth to your audience.

Be creative with this and brainstorm how can you infuse your brand personality and story into your photos.

 

Spread your message visually

As I said before, it’s really true “One picture is worth a thousand words”.

So once you have your photography, don’t only use your pictures on your website.

Use them in your social media, newsletters and ads.

One of the best places to share your photos is not only Instagram but Pinterest.

It’s on Pinterest people often find new brands and save stunning imagery, which spreads the word.

You can also use them on the Thank You card which you add to your orders.

Your photography is one of the best ways to capture your brand personality and communicate it to people in a subconscious way, so use it to build your brand awareness.

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It’s not enough to pick the perfect colour palette and design a shiny website to create a strong brand. If you want a powerful, influential and desirable brand you need to touch people on a deeper level.

I’ve combined my 10+ years experience as a graphic designer for brands like Jimmy Choo, Karl Lagerfeld, River Island, and Childrensalon in my early career + many top influencers and brands during my work at Adored Designs with my passion for psychology and the way humans form relationships.

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Alex Rogala-Jacek

Brand Coach & Creative Director

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