Is Your Brand Telling a Story?
Updated: May 16
How strong storytelling in your brand photography will help you grow your business, by engaging your ideal audience, cementing your authenticity and creating a human connection with your potential clients.
Hello again, I had a few friends around at the weekend week for a glass of wine or two, ok a few more than that, but anyway, we were chatting as you do about the really important things in life - food and our favourite TV shows as kids. The Magic Roundabout, Scooby Doo, and Rhubarb and Custard definitely made the list, Jackanory, although fondly remembered didn't make the cut, but as my friend Sarah pointed out they didn't have the likes of Ryan Reynolds and Tom Hardy on the reading roster back then.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about storytelling (honestly, not dwelling on Tom Hardy's appearance on CBeebies Bedtime back in February, for the second time do not ask how I know!). I’ve been looking at how we use storytelling in photography and how that can help my brand photography clients. Storytelling is a big consideration when we’re creating great brand images. Whether you’re showing a single moment to highlight, or the bigger picture to set a scene, the right photos will engage your audience and pull them in.
The world of 2023 – both real and digital worlds in fact – flood us with images constantly meaning we can’t connect with all of them. So, when we create pictures for our business, we need to think about how we will pull our audience in. Creating captivating images to tell your brand story is one way to do this, by capturing a story which talks directly to the people we are reaching out to.
Once Upon a Time
Stories are everywhere, people have been telling stories throughout history and across the globe. Often, elements of these stories are recognisable from one generation to the next or from one continent to another and this consistency is actually one of the things which makes stories so effective.
That moment of familiarity when you hear a phrase you’ve heard before, creates a comforting recognition which pulls you in. And it can be effective in images too – the attractive couple at dinner with an unopened ring box, the woman and child cuddled together with a story book – we feel we know these stories.
So, how can we use images to tell our stories? And how do stories help us build our brand?
Start at the Beginning
What is the story you want to tell?
Usually it will be the story of your business, your client journey, or how your customer will engage with you.
The image you’re presenting will be aspirational, showing your viewer that the world is better when they engage your services. It should, however, also be achievable; if you present something out of reach you’ll exclude members of your audience so it’s important you decide where to position yourself.
Plan the story you want to tell – you might create a mood board, or even a storyboard to outline and plan. You can add the details later.
Set the Scene
Once clear on the story you’re telling, you can start thinking about individual scenes.
If you’re working with a professional photographer, you’ll be able to discuss each of these stages to get ideas how to create the elements you’re looking for.
Within each scene there are a few things to consider, some of them you may want to direct but others might occur as the photographer spots opportunities in the shoot:
· Big Picture or a Moment in Time A wider shot sets a scene – the viewer can take in location, other things happening, who is in the shot, or it might be part of a journey. A narrower field focuses attention – whether it’s a single person, object or expression, you’re directing the focus for the viewer.
· Create the Context Branding photos might be shot on location or in a studio – maybe a combination of both – these spaces will be used to create the background of your images. The context is then reinforced by objects or props which tell your story, things which are relevant to you and your brand; they should also be appropriate to the environment otherwise the scene will look incongruous.
· An Eye for Colour When creating images for branding, the use of colour is an essential consideration. Within your location, props or outfit, items will need to fit with the colour scheme determined for your branding.
It’s also worth considering the wider psychological implications of these colours as well as how (and where) you’re likely to use the images once you have them.
To create engagement - or pull - with an image, you’ll need to connect with your audience’s emotions.
Think about the emotions you want to inspire through your images and how you can make that happen. Part of the point of your branding images is to create the Know, Like, Trust
factor which is so important for your business – how will you tell a story which does that?
Whether you inspire desire, amusement or even revulsion, you want to make an impact. Does the photo entertain? Does it communicate a message? A hint of mystery within a picture can make a real impact, leaving the viewer wondering about something they’re seeing. When someone asks questions about your image they are invested, wanting to discover more.
One way of arousing curiosity is through the use of unusual perspectives, don’t be afraid to look at things in a different way.
Keep it Simple
When you’re using your images to get a message across, keep it simple - the image and the message.
However good the photographer, you won’t be able to convey… “No matter how stressed you are and how many things you’re juggling in your life, I’ll take away these worries by providing a fast, efficient and simple service – you can trust me” in one photo.
And, to ensure the message your image conveys is clear, the scene itself needs to be uncluttered so the viewer doesn’t get distracted.
The Staged and the Unexpected
Our first step in telling your story was to plan, however it’s also important to be open to opportunities.
As real life happens it will give you moments which add to the story, make the most of them.
Telling Your Story
Once you have your brand photos, don’t be afraid to use them.
As part of the planning process (which we discussed in more detail in this blog), we think about where you will use your pictures, but always be open to other opportunities.
For example, that great picture in a café can tell different stories of you:
· Enjoying the freedom of time out of your day
· Having the flexibility to work anywhere
· Meeting someone, for coffee? For work?
You can direct how the audience sees that picture through the context in which you present it, so don’t narrow your focus.
This is Your Story
Being clear on the story you want to tell is important whenever you present an image for your business. Your branding photography is an ideal opportunity to create the story your audience will want to engage with. Telling the right story, you’ll reach the right people and get a great response.
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....or if you want to chat through your options for professional photography for your business or how you might be able to use branding photos effectively in your business, I’d love you to get in touch.
And don’t forget to share your favourite CBeebies Storyteller while you’re here.