Curating Images: How compelling photography builds your brand

If you've ever wondered what attracts you to a specific brand without having experienced their product or service, chances are their photography has a lot to do with it.

For example, if you find yourself drawn to a photo on Instagram and a half an hour later realise you've explored every single image in their account, its possibly more than just boredom or a celebrity crush. What do you think has held your attention for so long?  Why do you find some brands so seductive and other's not? It's called image curation and it's meant to do just that.

People inherently value the 'good stuff.' If they see you regularly producing interesting, relevant content, it builds a foundation of trust between you and your audience. They can always rely on you for interesting images-and no garbage.

As businesses move away from only written words, a logo, or graphics to communicate what they have to offer, here are some tips on how to curate images for your brand that will keep seducing your audience and make them come back for more.

1. Be Selective

quality over quantity

One of the main elements of curation is being selective in what you upload, advertise, and post. This means as a business that you're not using images that don't align with what you're trying to sell or photos that degrade the quality of what you offer. Use photos that are relevant to your product or service offering and don't use anything else. Just the best ones. Cat photos may be trendy but what do they have to do with your brand?  If nothing, simply avoid them. This is especially relevant in the service industry where what you are selling isn't a tangible item you hold in your hand but something you experience.

Many travel and hospitality brands do an excellent job of this: The Palmwood Guesthouse's Instagram account uses content that demonstrates the experience their guests can look forward to, which includes their destination, rooms, food, and the landscapes that surrounds them. There is a broad spectrum of content in their account, but its highly relevant to the experience they offer and serves to build their brand. Cats? Not so much.

Source: Instagram:  @thepalmwood

Source: Instagram: @thepalmwood

2. Uniformity + Style

give your images a style

Apart from the subject of what is in the photographs you use, a consistent style also provides a continuity in images that better allows them to belong to your brand. How do you achieve this? Use a consistent filter on all your images whether it be for your website, social media, or across print promotions. Over time, your audience will see an image and instantly know that its yours. You become more quickly recognisable, and therefore more memorable as well.

A great example is the US-based clothing brand American Apparel. They consistently use flash photography that is high-contrast with a low-fi appeal that gives their images uniformity. No matter where you see an image like this, you are reminded of their brand.

3. Build a lifestyle

appeal to the values of your target audience

Perhaps no one does this better than big sports brands like Nike, Adidas, etc who have the kind of funds to hire celebrities or athletes we are already familiar with. Famous people or not, appealing to the lifestyle of the people you are trying to sell to in your images will create a real connection with your target audience. If you're a boutique hotel trying to attract families, don't just use photographs of skinny girls sitting next to the pool drinking cocktails. People gravitate to what they can relate to, so you need photography that showcases the activities, style, values, and interests of the people you want to buy from you. Its as simple as that! 

Check out some of the images used in the 2016 Puma #doyou women's campaign. The end goal might be to sell shoes and sportswear but the lifestyle element that relates to bold, rebellious, and independent millennials is the first thing we recognise in their images. Well executed.

Source:  Puma 2016

Source: Puma 2016

4. Consider your colours

select a palette and stick with it

Most brands are built with a colour scheme attached, but traditionally this hasn't always extended to images. Nowadays where images are used for business communications online more than anything else, brands have begun to synchronise the colours in their photography allowing for a more curated experience. Just don't limit your brand's colours to so few that it makes it impossible to use almost any image that doesn't fit within it. Having 4-5 colours across your images will allow for more flexibility in content and still work to give images a distinctive tone.

A flawless example of colour coordination in images can be found on the website and Instagram account of the famous fitness duo Base Body Babes. This highly curated brand uses base tones of grey, white, and black and adds a different accent colour every week. Totally flawless.

Source:  I nstagram  @basebodybabes

Source: Instagram @basebodybabes

Source: Instagram  @basebodybabes

Source: Instagram @basebodybabes

5. Create an image library for your business

keep your photography organised

Whether you're business generates photography in-house or contracts it out, having an image library that accumulates over time will not only help curate images, but also helps to make image selection easier. Seeing a larger selection of images side by side is a great way to filter and make decisions about what photos will be the best fit and which to get rid of. Moreover, categorising your photo library based on the content will make it more evident where you are lacking and where you have enough.

These tips will help to create consistency in your brand and ultimately keep your audience engaged in what your business has to offer.

For more information on curating images specific to your brand, explore my visual content creation packages and get started building an extraordinary brand today.