A brand by any other name…

Top of the survey when asked ‘What do you want to know about when it comes to your business images?’,¬† came ‘Clarity of Message’ and ‘Branding’. And as we aim to please today’s blog is a straight forward look at some ideas on those very topics.

A quick disclaimer I’m currently working with the very talented Andy Johnston to drill down my business message and getting a really clear and consistent brand, so don’t take me as the greatest example at the moment. You can judge me at the end of the summer!

This is probably the first tip. Get outside help. It doesn’t have to be a professional (though a trained eye does help). A colleague, team member, mentor, prospective customers, ideal clients are all good to bounce ideas off. I have been known to test things at networking events too.

Then listen to what comes back. We all get bogged down in great ideas, being all things to all people, what we think people want to see. This can lead to our message becoming muddled and our brand getting a bit lost. Another set of constructively critical eyes are incredibly valuable for keeping our brand and message clear.

Next tip colour is great for branding. Here’s a screen grab of an image search for Cancer Research. I drove past a billboard this morning and it struck me how well they use colour. You can see that the colours from the logo in all their visuals, be it diagrams, events, people, research. Small business can do this through clothing, pop-up banners, pens, etc. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A bit of attention to detail is all that’s needed. For example if you are giving a presentation where you are going to be photographed, wear something that features your colours, match your whiteboard markers or PPT to your company colour scheme.

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You can also look at/Google the psychology of colour and what is standard in your area of business, e.g. business training is a dearth of blue/grey stock photography. Clothing, image treatments, lettering all using the same palette. If you come to any of my training sessions through the year I’m may ask you to wear something bright, as this isn’t anything like I want training to look or be. Dull!

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Unfortunately there is no simple answer. It can be a trade off between people making the connection with people through the use of standard industry colours and being lost amongst all your competitors doing the same thing. If you do an image search of ‘Edinburgh Law Firm Logos’ vs ‘Edinburgh Asset Management Logos’ you can see their different approaches.

From colour to people and clarity. If you have a specific target market use them in your images. This ties into last week’s blog on audience. Use people who connect with your target market and don’t use people who will muddy the message. When I think about my audience it’s not about a specific age, gender or industry. It’s about people looking open, engaged, professional, confident and happy. When I share any image promoting my profile pictures I make sure the image says all those things to me.

PPD eventbrite 2018

A similar argument can be made for location. If your audience is very local think about how you can feature that in your images. If you audience isn’t in California, stock images that feature roller-blading under palm trees can make you look inauthentic. The reverse can be true if you sell internationally i.e. looking to small scale, but not always. Think about the strength of the Scottish/UK brand in China.

Last tip for now…there are a million things that contribute to clarity of message and branding so I have to draw the line somewhere. I’m sure it will regularly appear in other blogs in the future and if you need specific help with your business come along to a training session or join the Digital Content Masterclass Facebook group. Where you have the chance to get that outside help I mentioned ūüėČ

So as I was saying last tip…sticking your logo on stuff! One of the easiest ways you can get your branding out there is get your logo in a PNG file and drop it on to all your images. If you’re not sure how to do it for your specific device, app, software ask the internet…Youtube will have the answer!

To recap a brief introduction to clarity of message and branding think; outside feedback, colour, people, location, watermark (logo). Things not covered yet; filters, styles of photography, repetition of composition…and on and on and on. Still lots to cover in the future!

Always love to hear your feedback and questions so ask away!

C x

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5 questions to ask yourself about your social media images

“89% of B2B marketers and 86% of B2C marketers¬†report¬†they are using content marketing¬†to increase leads and drive their brand forward” – Gary Henderson, Forbes

I’m not going to touch on the serious content of the article, you can read the full thing here, but it did get me thinking.

Always a dangerous thing!

Looking at it from an imagery perspective, what’s your content saying about your business? We looked at this last week at No Ties Networking¬†when I was giving a talk on visual communication. Instead of just telling people stuff I took two of the businesses as case studies. Then used the knowledge and experience of the group (there are some excellent marketers and brand specialists) to develop some ideas to help those businesses with their visual content.

We can all refocus our social media content by asking ourselves the same 5 simple questions we discussed at No Ties (the questions are simple…the answers might be a bit harder ;):

  1. Who or what is your business? …ask yourself this 3 times and try and expand on the answer each time. The clearer you have this the easier it is to target your message.
  2. What do you want to say? …I suppose this is sort of looking at your USP, but maybe more importantly how you want people to see your business.
  3. Who is your target market? …pick someone as specific as possible. Generally only multinationals have the resources and budgets to target everyone. And they regularly get it wrong…see Pepsi.
  4. What do they want to see? …what do you think will engage your market? Get them over their indifference. What do they like looking at? How can you match that to what you want to say?
  5. What stops them buying from you? …people are naturally suspicious about services. You can use images to help people get over their concerns about buying from you by identifying these problems and then tackling them one by one.

There are no answers in this post, only questions. I need to do this for myself too. I’m often guilty of the same thing as everyone else with a small business and limited time. I grab random images with ‘that will do’ attitude…I would never do this to a client, so I’m not sure why I think it’s okay for me.

If you’d like to learn more…possibly with answers this time…I will be putting some training sessions together for the coming months. One of which will be a full-day and run in conjunction with Katie Goudie from Words that Work and Brendan Reilly from Dangerous Studios. We will take you through the whole process from planning to practical skills for both photography and video, so you can walk away with the skills and knowledge to get on with your content marketing.

Leave your email address below or signup and we will let you know what we have planned.

Any other questions or requests for info just give me a shout.

Claire x

Presents for Everybody!

All I want for Christmas is for you all to have better photography for you and you businesses. Well that and world peace!

I was thinking what I could do to help the former and I decided presents were the way to go…as part of a clever (who am I kidding) marketing campaign. The title of this campaign…12 Working Days to Christmas…see what I did there. I figured advent is too long…25 days…nae chance! Then the 12 days of Christmas start on the 25th and who wants to be bothered with business over the holidays, so I’m combining them. See my genius ūüėõ

Where are our presents I hear you cry!

christmas-2012-1I’m not going to lie you are going to have to do a bit of work and not everybody is going to get one. What I am going to do is put a daily post on at 9am on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram and anyone who comments on those posts before 9pm on the same day goes in the draw to win that day’s prize. If you are the only person to comment you automatically win the prize. Woohoo!

What are the prizes? Well instead of making you check in everyday I’m going to tell you, so you can make a note in your diary for the prizes¬†that you want. The prize schedule is as follows:

  • Day 1. Thursday 8th December:¬†Profile picture day session (value ¬£25) WINNER Nic Macaulay-Smith
  • Day 2. Friday 9th December: Event photography (value ¬£130)
  • Day 3. Monday 12th December: Photography Training for Business Marketing (value ¬£25)
  • Day 4. Tuesday 13th December: Property Photography (value ¬£50)
  • Day 5. Wednesday 14th December: Profile picture day session (value ¬£25)
  • Day 6. Thursday 15th December: 1hr Profile Pictures session (value ¬£85)
  • Day 7. Friday 16th December: 1hr Photography for Business (value ¬£110)
  • Day 8. Monday 19th December: Photography Training for Business Marketing (value ¬£25)
  • Day 9. Tuesday 20th December: 1hr Business Image Review (value ¬£85)
  • Day 10. Wednesday 21st December: Profile picture day session (value ¬£25)
  • Day 11. Thursday 22nd¬†December: Photography Training for Business Marketing In House team session (value ¬£150)
  • Day 12. Friday 23rd December: 2hr Photography for Business (value ¬£180)

More details will be given for the prizes each day. T&C will apply e.g. international travel not included!

I’m leaving the challenge of World Peace to the New Year, so if anyone has any ideas let me know. It’s going to have to be a collaborative effort!

Communicating what to whom?

What do you want to say? Who do you want to say it to?

Are the two most important questions you should ask yourself when thinking about the pictures you are taking for your business. Let us stick to social media for this post for brevity’s sake.

What do you want to say? Images are all about communicating your message so what is that message? Who are you as an individual, small business, company? What are the things and values that are important to you? What makes you stand out from your competitors? What do you want to achieve? These questions are our starting point in improving our communication with our target market.

Who do you want to talk to? Is the second part of that successful communication. Are the people you want to talk to present on the social media platform you are using? What do they want to see? What questions do they want answered about you? What is going to make them engage of disengage with you?

You should look at using pictures as a way to improve how you communicate with your current and prospective clients. Effective communication is never just one directional (no I don‚Äôt mean the boy band). If you’ve not sure how you can start doing this have a look at your competitors. Who’s doing it well?¬†Ask your market what they like. Or come along to my next training, get some tips and try out some different options.

I’m fairly new to Instagram myself, so I’m out looking for guidance and ideas. This is one of the blogs I thought was useful. ‘21 Mistakes You Can‚Äôt Afford to Make in Instagram Marketing‘ by Rachel Daley.

To conclude, pictures can be used to both attract and put clients off. So make sure it is intentional not as a by-product of not thinking thinks through properly. This picture might alienate large sections of the market but speak directly to a specific group. I’ll let you guess the market.

Have a great weekend.

Claire x

UK police visit Balearic islands

commercial photography, Edinburgh

The Best of Week One

So 9 days in to the 30 day blogging challenge and its 11pm…oh well not exactly to plan but it’s going to be done before midnight! Here is the edited highlights for you to see all of this weeks ideas.

Day 1: Getting started: taking action and setting goals.¬†The start of my 30 day blogging challenge. Lessons, goals and getting started. With links to Sarah Arrow’s 30 day blogging challenge.

Day 1 Getting started

Day 2: Finding a Commercial Photographer. How do you find the right commercial photographer for you and your business?

Day 3: The Myth of Only being Online. Why I think business needs face to face interaction more than just an online presence. People buy from people.

Day 4: They Importance of Systems to a Creative. How do you find time and headspace to be creative? I need a system.

Day 5: Learning from others. Learning from other people is a key part of business. Here is some great tips from Sanja Moll of the Salt Yard Group and LeCoq restaurants.

Day 6: How do you keep your productivity?¬†Weightlifting is great for entrepreneurs. It’s all about maximising productivity!

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Day 7:¬†Why do you need a professional profile picture? Why are professional profile pictures important to have and to use? Ultimately, you are your brand. With links to William Arruda’s ‚Äė22 LinkedIn Secrets LinkedIn Won‚Äôt Tell You‚Äô article fro Forbes.

Day 8: Your message your market. The importance of images to get your message across to your target market. With links to Mark Parkinson: The Power of Visual Communication, Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty, Red Bull: Stratos.

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Your message, your market!

Images are about getting your message across to your market. Images communicate so much more than text. This is both a good and a bad thing. Poor images give an immediate negative impression, but equally great images make you stand out from the crowd and connect to your audience better than anything you can write. It’s evolution.

“What we see has a profound effect on what we do, how we feel, and who we are. Through experience and experimentation, we continually increase our understanding of the visual world and how we are influenced by it. Psychologist Albert Mehrabian demonstrated that 93% of communication is nonverbal. Studies find that the human brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner taking more time to process. Our minds react differently to visual stimuli.¬†Thanks to millions of years of evolution, we are genetically wired to respond differently to visuals than text.” – Mark Parkinson, The Power of Visual Communication

I’ll talk about a case study of work I’ve done later in the week, but today I wanted to¬†look at a few ad campaigns with a bit bigger budgets. Here’s a great link to top ad campaigns of the 21st century. My favourite is also their top choice Dove: Campaign for Real Beauty. The images are bright, clean and not over photoshopped, which matches their message and bucks the trend in the industry.

Day 8 DOVE-REAL-BEAUTY

The Red Bull: Stratos is also a favourite as it is just visually spectacular. The images grab us because they are totally out with our experience. Fortunately, we don’t need to leave the atmosphere to get great images. Most SMEs don’t quite have the budget of Red Bull ūüėČ

Day 8 red-bull-stratos-felix1

What makes your business different? It does’t have to be plummeting through¬†the earth’s atmosphere or being pictured in your pants. It can be small details like the quality of your stationary, the friendliness of your staff, the unique features of your building, the difference of your approach that makes you stand out from your competitors. Images can show people who they are¬†much better then telling them.

Over the next 2 weeks I will blog¬†more about¬†how to¬†get images that take your message to your market. I’d love to hear other people’s feed back on their images.

The myth of only being online

My business requires touching…before you get the wrong idea I mean it can’t exist only online. I have to have face to face contact with products, suppliers and, most importantly, clients both for my health but also for the health of my business. I think this is true for many businesses,¬†but like many¬†I’m guilty of¬†often get bogged down online. I don’t forget that websites and social media are tools to make real world connections, but sometime I spend an unproductive amount of time obsessing over them. The 30 day challenge is my way of forcing action rather than obsessing.

Choosing products is a prime example of something that I can’t do¬†online. It requires touching. There is no way of deciding online if I¬†love a product. Does the cover feel right to the touch? What is the standard of the finish? What kind of paper captures the feel of the session? Do I feel happy asking my clients to pay the price for the product? I had a great day yesterday having a look (and feel) of some new ideas from Kaleidoscope-Framing, my favourite being the signature option, which takes photography back to works of art. I also loved the quality of finish on the Jorgensen Albums from SWPM. They are going to be great additions to my existing products from Loxley Colour.

Suppliers are another area where real people make all the difference. Don’t get me wrong online printing is great for convenience and I love Moo¬†for both ease and quality, but for bigger investments and for branding I want to talk to a real person, which sometimes slows me down but in the end I’m always happier with the outcome. Personal touches are always very welcome. Glasgow Print are a prime example of a beautiful product. However,¬†what really impressed me was the hand written note in the sample pack they sent through. The more I interact with businesses like these the more I know what kind of business I want to be and what type of client experience I want to build.

Glasgow Press sample packClients and connections also get touched…usually shaking hands, but for professional profile pictures it’s usually a bit more…what can I say I hate rucked fabric. I¬†try and meet all prospective clients for a coffee or a chat before I take on¬†their¬†project. This is because it’s¬†not just about the price being right,¬†expectations have to be set managed. All of my most successful projects have been part of¬†a team effort.¬†In my experience most people communicate their ideas, so much better in person than over email, phone etc. Though some claim the opposite I find it¬†rarely to be true, if you know how to ask the right questions communication is always better face to face. The same is true for business connections. How can you¬†recommend someone you have never met of worked with? You’re basically handing over your credibility to someone you’ve never met, so while LinkedIn is great to keep in touch and make connections it’s never going to supersede coffee for me.

In conclusion, being¬†online is a great tool but for me it’s never going to replace human contact because in the end people by from people.