Boost Your Brand with Strong Image Selection

Small Business Branding Tip #2

Hi, we’re back with our second tip in this series on brand tweaks you can take care of yourself that will increase your credibility, expand your brand, and hopefully make people want to work with you! Once you implement one, it will continue to pay off as you move on to the next.

Let’s talk about what images you use.

Examples of surf company images that are not cohesive

As we mentioned in our last post on cover images, an image can do everything from make you drool or make you feel a certain way to make you want to work with a certain company. And as small business owners, we’re probably hoping for all three of those things!

There are several challenges to great image selection—no clear idea of what your images should look like, not enough time to spend looking for the perfect images, wanting to follow certain trends, or no budget to purchase images are just a few things that can get in the way. In this post, we’re going to show you how to overcome all of those and make your images an integral part of your brand.

Why you should care

You use images. You use them on your website, in your blog posts, on Facebook, on Instagram, etc, etc, so why not have them help your brand rather than potentially hurt your brand? With a little time and effort spent up front, and the word “no” firmly in your vocabulary, you can use images to your advantage.

We’re going to use a fictional surf brand, Cerffco, to show what we mean. Cerffco has a logo, but different people have helped with the marketing over time, and above is a sample of some of the images they’re using.

Even though all of their images are related to surfing, they don’t give us a clear understanding of what their brand is all about and they make us wonder if they even know themselves.

How to know what your images should look like

If you have gone through a formal branding process, one of your takeaways should be a color palette and possibly an image style guide. You should refer back to these often as you select images for your website, social media, and print materials. However, if you haven’t gone through that process, we’re going to walk you through how you can establish a palette and image style on your own.

1. Look at your logo.

If it has any colors in it, that’s a great place to start. You will want to reinforce those colors in your images.

2. Think about what colors may be appropriate.

Depending on what your company is all about, there may be certain colors that seem like a natural fit. For example, water and sand colors work perfectly for our surf brand. Cool colors like blue and green can be calming and warm colors like red and orange can generate more excitement. Think about what type of mood you want to create and do a quick search on color theory for more specifics!

3. Use a color picker tool.

Once you have at least one color picked out, use one of the various tools available to help you find other colors that work well with it. You may want to look for colors in the same family (“analogous”) or opposite (“complementary”) colors that will really make your main color pop. Two tools to try are HTML Color Codes and Adobe Color CC, or do a quick search for color picker tools. There are also tools that will detect colors in an image you upload.

Once you have your colors picked, make sure to make a note of the HEX codes (plus RGB, CMYK, and any other builds you’d like). You will refer back to these in our future posts!

4. Create your own image guidelines to follow.

Of course it will include your color swatches from above. You’ll want to create a collection of images that use your color palette and style to create a mood board you can refer back to. You can also think about whether you want to use illustration rather than photography, or if you’d like to use a certain filter on all your images to create a consistent look.

Here’s the updated mood board for Cerffco. It now includes their color palette made up of the two colors in their logo plus a bit of orange and red for an extra pop of color:

Examples of surf company images that have a clear direction

Your images don’t all have to be *so* similar—you may want to have a mix of different scenes with closeups of people, wide scenes of environments, or even abstract images—but these work well for an action-based surf company.

How to actually put your image guidelines into practice

Remember how we mentioned the word “no” above? A lot of branding is having a strong sense of how you want your company represented and saying no to everything else. It can seem restrictive at first, but over time, you’ll see how the variety within your brand comes together to create a cohesive look.

Now that you’ve created your mood board, refer back to this to see whether potential new images seem like they “fit” with the look you’ve created. You can use free collage tools or Instagram planning apps to quickly see how your images work together.

If you’re using stock photos

Ready to start finding great images based on your new and improved mood board? Start by checking out sites like Pixabay (which we used to find these surf images), Unsplash, or Pexels. Use the sites’ available filters to search for a certain color, or just type a color name in with your search terms. You can also use the regular Google image search and then click on Tools > Usage Rights > Labeled for Reuse to see if there any you can legally use. Flickr has a similar feature by clicking on the dropdown next to Any license and selecting Commercial use & mods allowed once you have performed your initial search.

If you’re shooting your own photos

Think about things like background color and props that you can use throughout all your images to create consistency. Look online for more info on shooting great product or lifestyle photos!

We hope this post has been helpful! Happy image selecting!

(After reading this post, you may be wondering if you can hire us to develop your brand and select your images for you. Of course you can—just get in touch and we’ll make it happen!)

This is the second of a series of pro design tips for strengthening your small business branding using small, inexpensive steps you can implement yourself. If you missed the first one on Making the Most of Your Social Media Cover Images, check that post out next. Stay tuned for more tips in the coming weeks. And of course, get in touch with us at Guglik Design for help with all your small business branding needs!

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