The Very Picture of Professionalism

The Power of Photography in Brand Marketing

By Courtney Dade, CEO, Chief Strategist, CSD Marketing and Consulting, LLC, originally posted March 2, 2021 and updated July 12, 2021

It takes about .005 of one second for our brains to react to something visual. David Williams is a professor at the University of Rochester. He says that more than 50 percent of the brain’s surface is devoted to processing visual information. He should know. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on human vision. Also, he’s pioneered new technologies that improve the eyesight of people around the world. Bottom line, our braina enables us to make judgments literally in the blink of an eye. 

That’s why impactful photography can help you solidify your personal brand. You can take advantage of the way the human brain works. Sure, with today’s smartphones, you can take a high-definition selfie and upload it on your website, embed it in your emails, and use it for your social media profiles. But in that instant the brain takes to process it, will this image leave the impression you’re trying to create for your ideal customer? Should it be part of the unique bundle of associations you’ve tried to assemble to create your brand identity

What is Brand Photography?

If you’re running an online business or building your brand identity, you should learn about brand photography. Brand photography provides you with professional images that visually represent your business. These photos fit with your visual identity. And we aren’t talking about portrait photography. No, we’re talking about high-quality authentic photography that evokes an overall image and feel that aligns with the personality of your brand. The appropriate use of colors, tone, props, sets, and locations is part of it. Brand photography can include photos of you, your team, and your products. It can also depict your process, your workspace, your customers, your business location, what you influence, and what you care about.  

CSD Marketing and Consulting teams with photographer Ivan Harris of Ivan S. Harris Photography/Suede Social. I first introduced Ivan in my podcast about Overcoming a Crisis Through Creativity. (It’s part of our series called “The Phoenix Project.”) Ivan says a picture is worth a thousand words, but its value can be far greater. According to Ivan, “A single picture can showcase a complete range of emotions pertaining to any given era, event, person, industry, or, business.”

Communication Beyond Words

Think about how powerful a single image can be in communicating a moment in history, a period in pop culture, or the entire career of an individual:

  • A sailor kissing a woman with joy at the announcement of the end of World War II. 
  • Marilyn Monroe, face alight with innocent wonder, sexy dress in flight, standing over a grate in the sidewalk as the subway passes by. 
  • A young woman kneeling near the body of a fallen student shot down on the campus of Ohio State while protesting the Viet Nam War. 
  • A cool person with a white milk mustache silently telling you that milk is cool before you read the ad copy. 
  • Michael Jordan sitting with a basketball next to a loudly clad Spike Lee who stands over him, both wearing branded tennis shoes, and silently speaking volumes to a target population about who wears this product and what you’ll achieve when you wear it.

Leveling Up by Being Authentic

Maybe you’ve had a professional headshot taken for your LinkedIn profile or the “about” page of your website. It may be beautiful, but what does it communicate about your brand? You may have gorgeous stock photos on your website. But are there any authentic representations of you, your business, or your company on that website? Or could it be anyone’s website, anywhere, selling “fill-in-the-product”?

Plug and play websites with stock photos are definitely better than no website and no images. But Ivan cautions, “As you prepare to take your business and your brand to the next level, the identity you project through the images in your portfolio matters. You want to look your best, be consistent with your brand identity, and portray high-value production and quality in your photos across all your marketing materials.” Therefore, you can make a positive impression in the .005 second in which someone’s brain is judging you.

Final Thoughts

Our 2021 third quarter theme is “Reconnection” for a reason. In fact, you can start to reconnect today. Take stock of who you are and what you want to represent as an organization and as an individual leader. Then make a first step toward rebranding by adding just a few professional brand photos to your portfolio. You can start with photos of you and your team, someone you’ve served, or something else that adds authenticity. The point is to start somewhere and know that this is just the beginning of your branding journey. 

CSD Marketing and Consulting is ready to help you refresh your image and get ready for your close-up. Whether it’s photos, strategy, product launch, or an entire marketing plan, contact us today. Let’s get this party started!

For kicks, here’s a three-minute video from the Salk Institute about how the brain recognizes what the eye sees.

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