Don’t hire personality, use your own!

Originally, I was going to write this post on photography and illustration for SMEs as a mini rant, but at the last minute, decided not to. Instead, this quick post is intended to help companies use imagery more effectively to sell themselves better to prospective and existing clients. My discussions with small businesses always get to the question of how to generate unique content – the stuff I can use to design with. The great thing about any business is that there’s always an interesting and unique story behind it, just waiting to be told. There’s no great secret to teasing these stories out – I usually just ask business owners to tell me what their business is about, how they started it, what they think makes it different etc., and we’re off and running. It’s then just a question of selecting the best bits, prioritising the messages and using graphic design to make sense of it and present it to their audiences. This approach is usually fine, until we get to the question of imagery – a particular issue with service businesses. Of course, there’s no surprise when owners of these businesses tell me that their personal business relationships with their existing customers are of prime importance. But when I ask them for photographs of their staff interacting with customers, or going about their work or attending stands at trade fairs etc, a few seconds of silence usually ensues. Businesses selling products where images exist are not immune from problems either, as I have often seen poor quality photographs being used to sell products which are actually of the highest quality. For me, the potential benefits in commissioning unique photography or illustrations are enormous. Who wants to be another ‘me too’ business? I’m sure we can all remember checking out the credentials of different suppliers on their websites, only to find that some people images appear again and again. Immediately, trust is at risk because we get no sense of a credible personality, because we can’t, literally, put names to faces. Understandably, SMEs are always concerned with costs and hassle involved in taking pictures. However, when it comes to considering the commissioning of photography, some myths abound. Here, we take tackle these myths head on…Кольца

A few minutes ago, I checked the cost for the use of one of those typical ‘office workers pointing at nothing in particular’ images from a couple of the major image libraries. A typical cost for downloading and using a one megabyte file was around £150. On that basis, the cost of using, say, a selection of twelve library images for a website or small brochure would be £1800. There may also be usage restrictions that could mean paying more for use in different media. By comparison, the cost of hiring a photographer for a day (outside London and the South East) can start at £200-£300 per day. Plus, you can usually arrange reduced or zero-cost usgae rights when commissioning the work. This could give you 50 or more images, unique to your business, for use on your website and printed materials for years to come.

You don’t have to. A good designer, agency or, indeed the photographer will have experience in arranging and directing a photoshoot. If they don’t, find someone else who does.

Yes, stuff happens and people leave. General images of people around the office don’t have to be named, so no problem there. For senior staff or management that may appear for example in a ‘people’ section, the cost of taking the picture of a new staff member will usually be reasonable, particularly if this possibility is discussed with the photographer when the original photo shoot is commissioned. So, as you’ve seen, commissioning photography can be affordable and easy to achieve. Come on, let’s see less boring, generic photography and illustration used in the marketing materials of SMEs. It doesn’t differentiate, and there are cheaper and better alternatives that can really start to project the personality and unique qualities of any business. If you want more details on how to tell your business story and project the personality of your business to your customers, get in touch today. Use the form on the ‘Contact us’ page or give us a call on 07704 855104.

Don't hire personality, use your own!Sinclair Ashman
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