We all work for — in essence, are representative of — a brand that has a distinct voice. Even if we aren’t brand marketers specifically, we understand our brand exists to tell a story: the story of a company, for its audience and customers.
The brand must speak for itself when the company’s employees and owners aren’t there to do the talking… which if you’re a digital company in any capacity, is almost always. You can hire the best written storytellers in the business to write your brand, and you should.
You should also hire the most talented graphic designer you can afford to create the perfect logo that will speak to your many visitors who will take one look at your beautifully written “about page” and have a TL;DR approach: just spacing out after the first few lines, eyes glazed over.
When the writing’s not on the wall, what can do the talking for you?
Using stock photos to enhance your brand as an integral part of your story is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about visual story.
This is even more true if you’re a startup entrepreneur trying the DIY, punk marketing approach or are bootstrapping your marketing efforts because you know your product works — and that it’s obvious everyone should be using it, given how much of your own blood, sweat, and tears you’ve poured into it over the process of prototyping and developing an MVP.
You know what they need. But do they know they need it?
The reality is at this point you know absolutely nothing of your target audience, not to mention what they are searching for and how. When you are first creating your brand, you have a product but you simply won’t have the data needed to know what your audience wants to see..
Down the line you’ll (hopefully!) have marketers and salespeople who will find your audience’s pain points and be able to show them exactly how you will heal them, but not when you’re building a brand from scratch.
All you’ll have is whatever is written on your site and a logo that hasn’t gotten any feedback from market research or surveys yet, because you probably haven’t even thought about that market research yet.
Considering branding partners
It’s easier than you realize… though it’s not as easy as just getting a logo and a name and painting the town red getting the word out that you exist. It’s also really time consuming (especially if you’re not a HubSpot whiz from the jump). You may want to consider a branding partner to outsource your branding, if not your full marketing effort.
Use photos that inspire and connect with your audience
The best brands tell a great story, and the best photos to integrate into your brand should have a coherent narrative that dovetails with illustrations on your site as well as your logo, mission statement, and vision.
Your text descriptions should inspire and excite readers. Your audience should be treated to a first-class immersive experience on your site.
This euphoria should extend to the photos you choose to represent your visual strategy as well. Your customer should feel secure in their choices and the photos you choose should nudge them toward this.
Leverage the psychology of color theory to your advantage
Using colors like greens and blues will inspire security and calm, which don’t inspire the sense of urgency needed to slam the “share” button. Purples, pinks and reds are going to encourage that.
Yellow is great for ramping up insecurities your audience has, especially when combined with red, so it’s great to juxtapose photos of busy and crowded scenes with brief textual descriptions of your target customers’ presumed pain points as you build your brand.
Orange is a great choice too: it’s a mix of yellow and red that also automatically differentiates you as an innovator.
Black text on a white background is great for optimal user experience, but choosing blacks and greys for your photo strategy is boring. If you want a monochromatic color scheme, colorizing black and white photos to align with the colors in your logo is a better idea.
Your photo strategy should accentuate your brand texts and imagery, not detract from it.
Ensuring your photos don’t slow your page’s load times will stop your audience from slowing their scrolling and having their roll slowed by a frustrating user experience. This will skyrocket your page above others that didn’t think this through. Photos are a great addition to text, but will slow your site.
So try to use JPEGs when you can as they are smaller than PNGs and will drastically improve your load times. Only use GIFs for illustrations and try to tell your story without these as much as possible.
Incorporating a video marketing strategy into a tactical plan is a great idea, but this is often best left to your YouTube channel.
Outsource your marketing
Last but not least, outsourcing your marketing efforts or hiring a top-notch consultancy is probably your best option if your annual marketing budget isn’t big enough to include an in-house team, or if you’ve felt like previous in-house marketers did not produce the expected results.
When choosing a partner for your marketing, make sure they have the relevant skills and perhaps knowledge of your particular industry or field of activity.
Marketing agencies specialized in a niche industry, for example in service B2B tech companies that sell security solutions, are better positioned to help similar companies that play in the same space.