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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 11.38.11

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!

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 12.05.54

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

Simple photography, the lazy person‚Äôs guide

Let’s keep it simple for the weekend. You don’t have any time, you don’t think you’re creative, you’re not really interested in photography, but you need to take pictures for your business.

Here are 3 things, using 1 rule, you can do to to take better pictures without the need for time, creativity or enthusiasm (though try and have some fun with it!).

Here are 3 things and the rule of thirds.

  1. Don’t put a horizon in the middle of the picture. Put it on the upper or lower third.
  2. Off centre portraits, putting the person’s eye on the top left corner to create a stronger connection to the image as when looking at an image people spend the majority of the time in that corner (45%).
  3. Leave empty space in the image. Don’t feel the need to put you subject¬†bang in the middle of the frame as big as possible (it’s boring). Put key details in the transects of the lines and don’t be frightened to leave some space. It leads to a more interesting picture.

So when taking pictures your first thought to make your photography better and more engaging should be the rule of thirds. Simple!

5 Top Tips for Effortless Social Media Images

How do you take better pictures to represent yourself online? So you have all the right Social Media accounts…Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and a strategy on how you want to use them. You know¬†stock photography sites you can use, but the problem is your USP is all about your¬†people, your place, your product, so how do you get that across to your target market?

How do you improve your social media photography content? Not by using expensive equipment, but tablets, smartphones and your existing equipment to generate higher quality more engaging images for your websites and social media channels.

I’ve put together a training course to help SMEs and start-ups improve their photography. However, if all you’re looking for is a few quick tips here are a some things that can make a huge difference with very little effort.

Look: Look for light and interesting angles. Is the light coming from as strange direction? What colour is it? Are there reflective surfaces where you can see yourself? Picking an unusual angle of an everyday subject makes it more interesting.

Ask: Ask people to move closer together in group shots. It makes them awkward to get into each others personal space, but leads to better pictures. Ask if people mind having their pictures taken. It keeps people happier to be considered and can raise awareness of your company if you encourage them to check out the pictures on your social media channels.

Move: Move closer to your subject. Too much dead space is not (usually) that interesting. Move to change the perspective. Get lower or higher so your image is not what people would expect to see.

Use: Use the apps on the phone or tablet to make the best of your images quickly before you upload them. Use something to stabilise the camera like resting your arm or the camera itself on a table to keep the picture sharper, especially in low light situations.

Think: Think about the composition. Peoples eyes move from left to right across a picture, so put something there for them to look at. Think about a plan before the event. What is going to appeal to your target market? The venue, people, food, entertainment? Have a plan and you will save time on the day and be more likely to get the pictures you need.

Here are a few examples of different looks you can achieve from a camera phone and if you want to have a coffee and a chat to find out more give me a call 0776 309 2221 or email claire@clairewatson.co.uk

Smart phone photography training dinosaur

Photography for Business – 5 Top Tips

Recently more and more people have been asking me how to improve their photography for business. Not using expensive equipment, but tablets, smartphones and their other existing equipment to generate higher quality more engaging images for their websites and social media channels.

As I can never say no to an interesting idea, I’ve put together a training course to help SMEs and start-ups improve their photography. Click here to see more of what is covered on the course.

However,¬†if all you’re looking for is a few quick tips here are a some things that can make a huge difference with very little effort.

Look: Look for light and interesting angles. Is the light coming from as strange direction? What colour is it? Are there reflective surfaces where you can see yourself? Picking an unusual angle of an everyday subject makes it more interesting.

Ask: Ask people to move closer together in group shots. It makes them awkward to get into each others personal space, but leads to better pictures. Ask if people mind having their pictures taken. It keeps people happier to be considered and can raise awareness of your company if you encourage them to check out the pictures on your social media channels.

Move: Move closer to your subject. Too much dead space is not (usually) that interesting. Move to change the perspective. Get lower or higher so your image is not what people would expect to see.

Use: Use the apps on the phone or tablet to make the best of your images quickly before you upload them. Use something to stabilise the camera like resting your arm or the camera itself on a table to keep the picture sharper, especially in low light situations.

Think: Think about the composition. Peoples eyes move from left to right across a picture, so put something there for them to look at. Think about a plan before the event. What is going to appeal to your target market? The venue, people, food, entertainment? Have a plan and you will save time on the day and be more likely to get the pictures you need.

Here are a few examples of different looks you can achieve from a camera phone and if you want to learn more come along to the training courses on the 15th and 31st of July in Edinburgh.

For other enquiries contact me claire@clairewatson.co.uk