Using the magic of photography to tell your brand storyPosted on December 16, 2020 by Sarah Robertson
The third guest in our brand storytelling series, and the last guest of 2020, is Connor Mollison, a photographer working in Edinburgh and Glasgow. In his spare time, Connor enjoys exploring Scotland, camera in hand. For him, there’s nothing more exciting than having a vision for a shot in mind and heading out to make it a reality. Here, Connor considers the role of storytelling in capturing images and shares hints and tips on how you can bring your brand to life through photography.
Photography is perhaps one of the most powerful tools when it comes to brand storytelling. Knowing how to properly use it to convey your brand’s message while engaging your target audience can be challenging, but done right, can be game-changing for your marketing efforts.
While it’s by no means the only tool, photography is unique in that you can use light, shadows, colour, composition and styling to influence how the viewer feels. Although a film offers hours to do so, you can still create feelings of excitement, anticipation, passion, sadness and love in just one frame. By doing so, you have the power to inspire those who mean the most to your business.
So, how can you begin to use the magic of photography to tell your brand’s story effectively?
Understanding your target audience
Within any good photography brief, there should always be a section about your target audience. To tell your brand’s story, it helps to have an understanding of who you are talking to. The same is true when developing other parts of your brand, such as creating the copy on your website or curating your social media posts.
As part of the discovery process, I would encourage you to identify your target audience’s age, gender, personality, hobbies, location, family status, and more. The more you get to know who you’re talking to, the better equipped you are to pique their interest when it comes to planning a photoshoot.
Know the story you want to tell
At the risk of sounding obvious, you need to know the story you want to tell. Whenever I’m working on a new photography project, I always ask my client why they want a photoshoot and what it is they’d like the images to convey. While it’s great to have shiny new photos for your website, will they support your message and do they have a clear focus?
While working with IfLooksCouldKill on a recent shoot for Fountain Court Apartments (pictured), we established from the outset that they didn’t just need fresh photos of their available rooms. The images needed to invite people in and allow them to enjoy the experience of being there, whether it was a young working professional ordering a takeout dinner or a fun family escape.
The core elements of storytelling in photography
After laying the groundwork, you can begin to look at how to create compelling images that drive your message home. Just as sentence structure and language can influence emotion, so can the different elements of photography. The list below is by no means exhaustive but rather a starting point for you to explore how your images can better serve you.
In an overwhelming world of digital content, engaging the senses can be incredibly powerful and allow your imagery to stand out from the crowd.
Senses: In an overwhelming world of digital content, engaging the senses can be incredibly powerful and allow your imagery to stand out from the crowd. Focus on the details such as conveying smells, textures, and sounds.
For example, if you’re a candle company, how can you get across a feeling of warmth and cosiness? Perhaps you can focus on the texture of a blanket or the heat of a fire. If your brand’s message is that of exploration and adventure, maybe you can incorporate feelings of wind through your hair or sand falling through your hand.
Colour: Guide your story in the viewer’s mind through the strategic use of colour, not accidental. In film and TV, colour plays a significant role in manipulating how the viewer feels. Using colour in brand storytelling is no less important.
Just as Ferrari uses the colour red to invoke feelings of speed, passion, and excitement, you too should think about how you can implement colour schemes to enforce your brand’s message. Glenmorangie, the whisky company, has recently undergone a huge branding campaign intending to engage a younger and more diverse audience. In doing so, they have used a vibrant colour palette, breaking the mould of the traditional image for whisky.
Emotion: As part of your discovery in defining your target audience, you should aim to go past demographic (such as age and gender) and tap into how your brand’s persona engages emotionally with the world around them.
Are they caring and nurturing? A fearless adventurer with an open mind? Are they logical and practical? What is their emotional state when they are looking to buy and also use your product or service? If you’re a baby clothing designer, you’ll need to create images that align with the emotional state of caring for a child – love, safety, comfort, happiness, and warmth. If you sell weightlifting equipment, you may need to tap into feelings of strength, accomplishment, and overcoming challenges.
Your brand’s message in today’s world
While your brand’s story may be the same as it was 20 years ago, viewers need to be able to relate to it in today’s world. This has never been more evident than during COVID-19 lockdowns. As the country had to isolate, brand’s were quick to change to their visuals from flawless and aspirational to more raw and authentic.
The Co-Op, for instance, knew that viewers wouldn’t relate to a polished high-budget TV ad promoting a new product launch. They had to pivot to include more realistic visuals such as the all too relatable video call and the blunders that come with it. Brand’s are doing this all the time from clothing companies becoming more body inclusive in their imagery to supermarkets representing minorities or varied family dynamics.
Summing it up
As we live in such a visual world, it has never been more important to be able to effectively tell your brand’s story through the use of photography. Once you truly begin to understand who you are talking to and what you’re telling them, you can then craft your story in a visual way that allows your audience to feel what you have to say.
*About Connor Mollison*
To find out more about Connor and to view his photography, follow him on Instagram or visit his website: www.connormollison.co.uk. I’d also encourage you to check out his commercial and landscape photography on Instagram. It’s such a beautiful feed and has us reminiscing of travel. We really do have the wanderlust!