Great brand images are essential in relating to your target audience
We are a part of a massive visual culture and this year will be no different. Photos are a universal language and can be used to add meaning or reinforce the message of your accompanying text. Today we’ll be looking at images, how they can reinforce your brand message, how to know what will work and where to find stock images if you don’t have your own.
Social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest rely solely on the curation and sharing of photos and images and pretty much all of your marketing will require good quality visuals whether that’s other social channels, your website or printed media. If you have access to your own high-quality brand images from your industry network or a branded photoshoot that’s great and the tips below will give you some insight into getting this just right. But, if you don’t have your own images you can still use stock imagery to convey your brand message and style. Read to the end to see our top picks for free and paid stock images.
Ready to share good quality images that strengthen your brand? Read on!
Deciding on Your Brand Image Style
Style is essential and any images you use must fit with your brand. These images will make your audience feel something so knowing what you want them to feel is important! If you’ve done any work on your branding you’ll already have chosen 5 or 6 adjectives that describe your brand/how your audience feels when they encounter your message. If not, I’d start there.
For example, my business brand is based around: Authentic, Feminine, Creative, Spirited and Satisfied
Choosing your style should take into consideration the target audience for your content, as well as using colours and illustrations that will appeal to your ideal client. If you aren’t sure who your ideal client is, try answering these 35 questions that help you define and start attracting your dream clients.
Keeping it cohesive
Finding the perfect high-resolution images for your brand is easy but aligning focus on image features such as colours, tones and hues can be slightly more difficult.
Pick your main colour and find the best choices to compare and contrast with. If you are unsure how to find colours that will represent your brand, try referring to a colour wheel or using Adobe Color (www.color.adobe.com/create). Adobe Color can work out the Analogous, triadic and complementary colours for your brand. Work within these colour theory rules and choose images that compliment your brand colours. Check out our complete guide to choosing brand colours if you need more help here.
Tones and Hues
Deciding on tones and hues is more about choosing the dimension of colour you want to represent your brand. Ask yourself, do you want your images to be bright and vibrant or more pale and neutral-toned? Keeping the tone of your colours cohesive throughout your images is vital in creating an artistic, fully formed appearance.
Make sure to analyse the subject of your images before using them, reflect on what the image is portraying, the people in the pictures, position and places.
Types of Brand Images
If you’re going to be using photographs in your brand you need to think carefully about the type of images you’ll use. Will they be images of people, places, things or animals? Do they feel fun or formal? Are they clean and bright or rugged and more natural-looking? If you use people are they serious, smiling, doing something, are they looking at the camera or somewhere else?
If you’re using pictures of you or your team you’ll want the lighting and colours to be similar, you may also want to dress in your brand colours or something that compliments them.
For stock images try to keep it relevant to the feeling you want your brand to convey. You might notice that my website uses stock images of happy, contented women, they generally aren’t wearing bright colours and there are brown earthy tones that compliment my feminine colours. When I look for images for my brand I try to think about how my clients feel when they are working with me, and when their project is complete, this helps me keep the images focused and aligned with my brand values.
Flat Lay Images
Another common theme for photography is flat lay images – this means images shot from above, usually parallel and over a blank background with various objects.
Choosing what angle your pictures are taken from can support your brand aesthetic especially when combined with fonts and colours you use consistently.
If you’re using illustrations for your brand you want to make sure they’re always in the same style. This might mean using similar colours or line thicknesses, choosing sharp or jagged edges, or the same level of detail. You won’t necessarily need to use illustrations from the same designer but they should feel the same. Take a peek at the examples below, neither have illustrations from the same artist but one clearly has a style and the other is mismatched.
Copyright and why it matters
Remember that not all images are free to use! Always check if the image is under Copyright and check the specifications of the Copyright law. Copyright is the protection of artistic work and allows the creator to have control over how and where images can be copied. For example, if you use Google to find an image, make sure you adjust the filters in the search, choose an ‘Advanced Image Search’ and then change the ‘Usage Rights’ to a licence that is free to use. By altering your search settings early on means that you won’t fall in love with a picture that isn’t available for use. You may also need to add attribution to images you find on Google, always check the licence!
Where to Find Stock Brand Images
With copyright being a bit of a minefield it can be better to use stock image sites where you can be certain you can use the images and you don’t have to give attribution. There are lots of free image sites and some great premium ones if you need something really specific.
Finding Free Images for Branding
You can find lots of great high-resolution, copyright-free images available on various websites. If you want your website or article to look unique, be sure to avoid any typical stock photos and choose more vibrant, unusual images or infographics that stray away from the norm.
Here are our favourites:
**Pro tip – Canva has a great stock library, if you’re struggling to find that perfect image, head on over and see if you can pull it from there.
Patterns & Textures
Looking for subtle patterns and textures? You’ll find plenty on Canva and some of the stock image site but my favourite place to find these is https://www.toptal.com/designers/subtlepatterns/. They’re free to use under a CC BY-SA licence so you need to add attribution. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)
Where to Find Premium Copyright-free Images
It is also possible to find a whole host of premium images. Choosing premium images over free images can give your brand an edge over the competition – as some of the free images can be overused if they target the niche market.
Here are our favourites: