Greetings simians! It’s time for another vlog, and today Matt and Chris are talking about image style.
This is all about how you use images in your marketing material, which images to use, and how to get the best out of your imagery.
Here’s the overview:
What is image style? (00:28)
Why should you care? (01:15)
How do you get it right? (02:27)
Where should you be getting your images? (04:28)
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In the meantime, we recommend the following stock image libraries that are free to use:
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Transcript Show / Hide
Tricked you! That was actually me holding a picture of us on a phone. That was a trick of the eye, wasn’t it.
Wow. It was sensational.
Anyway, I’m Matt.
And we’re here to talk about image style, which is why we started this whole thing with a still image of us.
Yeah, a very blurry still image of us…
What is image style? Your image style should be part of your brand guidelines. It should inform how images are used across your whole brand. This includes ‘cultural’ images and product images.
So, what is image style and why are we talking about it?
Well, as part of your brand guidelines you should have an image style, and it’s any images that you put out into the world and how they should look.
Yeah, so there are all sorts of different approaches you can take with this. A good one is to think about what kind of images you want to use for your main marketing, or your cultural marketing. And you may want a separate set of guidelines for how you display your product images, for instance. So, do you want them in situ, with people working with them, or do you want them against a beautiful white background? So it’s a set of rules to make sure that when people are following your brand guidelines, they understand what sort of image style they should be using, when and where.
Why should you care? Your image style communicates who you are as a company – images really do say a thousand words! Good quality images give you credibility, while poor images can damage your reputation. Great, consistent, unique imagery can help to create and maintain brand awareness.
That brings us neatly onto why you should care. It really shows who you are as a company and brand. It gives a sense of your personality across to the consumer.
That in turn gives you a sense of credibility. If you imagine a website, a piece of digital marketing, and all of the images on there are really obviously stock photographs – some of them may not have even had the watermark removed (I’ve seen it before!) – you really start losing credibility with your customer and your audience.
If you’re a builder, say, and you’ve got a picture of a person answering the phone who’s a blonde lady with one of those ear pieces – that’s not the person who’s really answering the phone, is it?
Yeah, absolutely, and we see the same stock photos used everywhere, so something definitely to avoid. And finally, if you get your image style right, it can actually really help create and maintain your brand awareness. If you have some really great bespoke imagery that is just tied to you, people will see it, recognise it and associate it with your brand. How do you get it right? Your images should be designed to generate engagement with your chosen audience. Your image style should say something about your core values. Your image style and palette should complement each other.
Let’s talk about how you do your image style, and how it all works.
First off, which is the same for most branding, it’s about understanding your audience. So making sure your image style properly connects with the people you’re trying to communicate to. So, if you’re a very friendly, happy, family-orientated business – and that’s the kind of audience you want to connect to – you should reflect that in your images, and not go too suited and booted and too bland with your imagery. So, combining your whole branding and your image to talk to your audience is key.
Following on from that, it really should follow your core values. So if you’re a legal person, it needs to show that you’re very good at your job, and you’re going to win all your cases.
By core values here, we kind of mean the top level of your brand philosophy, so your why, how and what messages, making sure that the image is in harmony with those messages, and the rest of your branding really, to make sure it all glues together. And in turn, it’s also worth thinking about and being aware of your colour palette. So you don’t want your images to clash horribly with all the other colours you have on your visual communication.
We’re not saying that everything on a certain brand needs to be blue or anything, but if your brand is an outdoors brand then you’ve got colours in your logo which are going to be earthy tones, so you need to follow that through with all the images on your site as well.
And actually, when you start looking at your branding, it’s often worth starting with your imagery before you get to your colour palette, because in some ways, it’s a good way of defining that colour palette – to get all of the images together and see what common tones you’re using. You can colour pick from them and make sure you’re not getting anything that clashes and it all sits nicely together. Where should you be getting your images? Stock photography can be great to use, as long as it’s good quality. Make sure you have permission to use the images. Sometimes bespoke photography can be a more cost-effective solution. Work with your budget – there are plenty of options out there.
And then we’ve got to deal with where we’re going to source our images from.
So, you’ve got a few options. There are of course lots of great stock libraries out there; some of them are free, some of them you pay for. The really important thing is if you’re not getting photography done yourself, and you’re getting it from online sources, to be very careful and aware of the licensing and the attribution. The first rule is do not do a Google Images search and just grab images from that, because you don’t know who holds the rights to those images. It’s much better to buy something from the licensed photography and stock libraries. We’ll put some links at the bottom to point you to some of our favourites. And make sure that you’re being very careful not to get into wobbly legal waters.
If you are going down the stock route, and you’ve got a company and you’re buying ten or twenty pictures, maybe it’s worth getting a professional photographer in to really shoot who you are, and the products in the right way. Maybe it is worth doing that. You can potentially do that all in a day.
There could be some savings to be made by getting an actual photographer in, and it tells a better story as well. So it depends on the size of your business, what your budget is and what your goals are to try and get these images sorted out. But if you take the other example of somebody who’s just starting out – there's nothing wrong with taking some photographs, even on your mobile phone, to try and get some of your personality out there, combine that with some stock photography that reflects who you are, and it’s a great starting point if you really are limited with budgets. So loads of options there, we hope.
Yeah, so get out there and sort out your image style.
It will make you happier and more successful.
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