A picture speaks a thousand words, but does it matter what kind of picture? Are all images going to speak to your customers in the same way? It's surprising the amount of companies that haven't considered the effect of the imagery they select for their marketing material – whether that's in the form of photography, graphics, illustration or animation, to name a few genres. In fact, many companies haven't thought of the differences between the types of media available, despite the fact that all categories can portray a completely different message about your business.
When incorporating imagery into your marketing material it is essential the right questions are asked, or else risk customers disconnecting with your advertising and ultimately your services. Many companies are keen to invest in branding; a nice logo and matching stationery; a professional website and online profiles, yet once the initial branding exercise is complete, they tick it off their to do list and do not consider how a continued professional image needs to be constantly maintained and developed.
So what does your imagery say about you? Have you considered which kind is most suitable for your advertising material? It all comes down to tone of voice. It's no good trying to convey that your company is unique if you use stock photography on all your advertising, and it's no good investing in highly sophisticated menu illustrations if you're running a budget takeaway restaurant. Each type of imagery will fit in according to it's tone of voice, and whether that tone of voice fits in with the company in question. Is your company image highly corporate? Is it fun and interactive? Do your products have a luxury appeal or are you aiming at the mass market? It's important you consider the options according to your tone of voice.
The right image can give you the edge over your competition. The key is in finding imagery that your clients will connect with and remember your for. I recently went to stay at an expensive boutique hotel as a treat and I was rather surprised when the informative material in the room contained what looked like clip-art imagery. Instantly my opinion of the hotel went down-hill, raising questions as to where else they cut corners – If they do this for their advertising, what of their food? If they had invested in unique illustration work the impact on their clients would have been far greater and complimented the boutique feel of the hotel. Likewise, I saw a project on a highly reputable advertising agency's website that had used stock illustration work for the campaign. Maybe most people don't have an awareness that this same set of illustrations had been used hundreds of places elsewhere, but it instantly made me think that the agency must not invest time in producing original work, or else must be cutting corners on costs. Using mass produced images speaks volumes as to the quality of the company and whether the clients are getting a good service. The problem with using stock imagery is that you will never have the edge over your competitors - your imagery is accessible to everyone and therefore it is unlikely you will leave a lasting impression. If you want to have a unique profile it is important you commission bespoke imagery through professional illustrators, photographers, videographers, designers and animators, to name but a few.
And just because I'm an illustrator it doesn't mean that I am going to tell you that you should use my illustration work (though, it would be nice!) – not unless it would truly enhance your company image. It's important I focus on the companies I feel I could help the best, producing beautiful and unique illustrations that focus on my observational work and lettering. It's no good me trying to compete with a highly conceptual editorial illustrator when my work would be better placed on food packaging, for example. I believe that creatives who are well placed in their unique fields produce the best kind of work, and in turn truly 'get' their client's business image.
So, although there are hundreds of options as to what type of imagery you can select for your company's advertising, the type in itself isn't as important as how your clients will connect with it. Having a starting point of what your clients are looking for in a brand like yours will help you to select appropriate imagery. Are they male or female? Do they have a high income? How old are they? These sorts of questions may all be quite obvious but it's surprising the number of companies who let this sort of criteria bypass them when selecting images. A picture speaks a thousand words, make sure they're all good ones.
What do you think? Has certain imagery made a difference to your company?