Photography matters when it comes to building a brand

December 11, 2014

Recently I drove by a billboard advertising a pharmaceutical and swore I recognized the woman in the ad. I can’t remember the name of the advertised drug, but I certainly remember the handsome, gray-haired woman. I couldn’t instantly place her, but I knew I’d seen her before. And then it finally dawned on me. I recognized her from many hours of searching for royalty-free stock images. I’d seen her in all sorts of situations—from boardroom meetings to intense one-on-one conversations with coworkers. And now here she was walking on the beach!

A great deal of time, effort and money is spent on building powerful, unique brands. From research and strategy to logos and websites, companies clearly understand the value in creating memorable experiences for customers. So, it makes me wonder why bland, generic stock images are becoming the norm.

As I continued to think about photography and its role in brand building, I started exploring companies that are clearly investing in creative photography and companies that are clearly NOT. I think we can learn a lot from looking at two very different brands that are certainly getting it right when it comes to their photography style.

The first is charity: water, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. With a truly distinctive tone, the photography charity: water uses to tell its story is authentic, captivating and always emotional. With far too many non-profits relying on user generated photos that tend to lack consistency and quality, charity: water stands out in a bold and memorable way.

The second is John Deere, an iconic brand with a long history of using photography that perfectly captures its personality. The quality of the light, the expansiveness of the landscapes and the scale of the machinery is instantly recognizable. The John Deere style is just what it should be: Strong, filled with pride and thoroughly American.

All brands should be impactful, memorable and distinctive. The right photography can certainly help get you there.

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