5: Brand language: imagery

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In the next three posts we’re going to look at brand tools. These are the component parts of a brand that we all recognise; imagery, text and language. The last of the three posts will cover how to put them all together consistently to create strong brand communications.

Imagery is an important element of brand presentation. The way in which photographs, illustrations, charts and diagrams and other forms of imagery are designed and used communicate much more than just the content to the viewer. They directly represent a company’s attitude to its products and services and the way it conducts business – the very heart of a brand.

Last year, I visited a potential client, a designer maker who crafted silver jewellery* wishing to update her website and promotional printed items. The products were of the highest quality and all she really needed to do was to showcase that quality to the public. I asked to see the photographs intended for use on the new site.

The photographs were poorly lit. Some had been shot with harsh flash light and others in natural light and there were at least three different backgrounds used. Clearly, the shots had been produced in this way to save money, an understandable approach to take in a small business where money is often tight.

A better approach in this situation would have been to use a ‘pack shot’ photographic studio. They produce high quality images in controlled, consistent lighting conditions and often have a reasonable ‘per shot’ charging structure, where the unit cost is reduced if larger numbers of shots are taken.

Beautiful products must be presented in a beautiful way. There should be a corresponding match between the quality of a product or service and the quality of its presentation. In the situation above sub-standard images can literally cheapen the product. Would you want to spend £1000s on a designer ring when a picture makes it look closer to £100 in value?

The Apple Computer website is a great example of how to photograph products well. They have set their own benchmark of quality for images on the website. Staff, customers and journalists all know what is expected. In a world of instant news and comment, if an image contained an obvious blemish, was out of focus or poorly lit, thousands of people would notice, reflecting poorly on the company.


One thing to bear in mind when hiring a photographer or studio is copyright ownership of the images. Please note that the photographer, not you, owns the copyright and can set limits on how those images are used. For example, if you commission product pack shots for your website, you may not be able to use the images in your brochure or on a leaflet. In practice though, many photographers will allow images to be used in any media if it is agreed up front when they are hired. Also, I have found photographers to be much more flexible and accommodating outside London and the South East.

*the type of craft has been changed