Congratulations on starting a business, you need a lot of bravery, stamina, bravado to decide to leave the corporate world and decide to sail your own ship.
I ultimately get how overwhelmed you feel right now, having so much on your plate already juggling with marketing, branding, finding clients, so I guess right now you don’t want to hear me saying, what about your visuals??
“What visuals?” Can I hear you say, you reply “my visuals are fine”, which either means you’ve got none and can’t think about it right now, are working with any kind of images where ever you can find them or snapping with no purpose.
You must have noticed by now; visuals are becoming big focus with all this social media malarky pumping all your ideas and energy, into finding new content to publish every day and the visuals that go with it!
Sign of times, large brands are in need of so much visual content that they’ve started to hire in-house photographers!
I get it you’re not there yet, and that’s fine because I’m here to help you sort your visuals, create a consistent brand and take the pain out of visual content planning.
So where do we start?
Every business needs visuals these days, what do you say with them, how do you create a compelling visual story?
Before we start working on the images, clarity is crucial my friend. You need a vision for your brand. If you’ve already done all this work, this will be super helpful for art directing your visuals, if not here are some guidelines to help you start. You need clarity about these three essential elements:
What do you want your brand to be known for, when I mean brand it’s what people say about your brand when you’re not in the room.
Who is your ideal client how do you serve them, what matters to them?
What is your brand personality? Is it joyful, elegant, quirky, how do you want your brand to come across?
The style for your graphics, visuals, copy will be different if your brand is like “the best friend next door” or a luxury brand focused on giving a high-end experience.
When you work on these elements imagine your brand in the next five years, thinking about who will be the face of the business this will determine if you want to focus more on the brand or you as the brand’s leading personality.
Once you’re clear about your mission, client, the brand personality, create a vision board.
After you’ve created the board, take a step away from the board displayed on your computer screen or print it out and stick to the wall, step back. Look for harmony between colours, fonts, images used for inspiration. Your choice of colours and fonts will give a different message out there; black is usually for elegance while bright colours imply something much more dynamic and vibrant, make sure your font, copy, images stay on the same vibration.
Audit your visual content
Where do you need images? You will need visual content at every touch point your audience has with your brand, and that means online and offline. There is also what I would call the static and variable visual content, what do I mean by that?
Static content are images that don’t change too often unless there’s some significant changes in your business. You will use static visual content on.
Your website, pages like your homepage, about page
Magazine, brochure, welcome kits, flyers, business cards
Branding and media kit
Cover pages on facebook pages, twitter, linkedIn,
Images profile on all your social media
Your variable visual content on:
Pages on your website that vary on a regular basis
Behind the scenes, you can change your story every three, six months
Now make your list, how many places did you find? Take every brand touch point you came up with to visualise how many images you will need for your static and variable visual content.
Create a spreadsheet on google docs and create two columns, one for the static and one for the variable content, then complete the raw for each locations where you need images and the number of images in each column. Done? Great! You know have a better idea about how many images you need and where.
Next, you will need to find or produce images, first take out your vision board with your colours and images used for inspiration, what colours tones stand out, what keywords do you associate with your brand, because these will help you in choosing your images.
There are a few options to find images, either work with a photographer who will help you to produce a lot of visual content aligned with your branding and guide through with ideas to develop content from.
Do it yourself if you feel confident enough with a camera, don’t decide to shoot from one day to another, plan 1-2 days for it, with a clear direction in mind, about settings, props, lighting, mood, colour tones.
Snap images when you travel to beautiful locations, tell a relevant story about your brand when you’re out and about.
Buy styled stock photography choose images that work with your brand, buy from a photographer that has images that work with your colour tones and keywords. i.e. natural light and studio light convey a different message in your images, are you more lifestyle, high-end? This has to come across in your visuals as well.
You might want to use all three options there, don’t overdo stock photography though, don’t forget about showing the human element in the visuals YOU. Once you have a good amount of images you can also remix content, using them again, resized for a different platform, adding graphics, you can do this very quickly uploading your pictures in Canva.
Make a schedule for your visual posts ahead, in an ideal world have at least 30 days planned with ideas to use for your visuals or illustrate your blog post and copy.
You might be thinking why is she asking me to do all of this surely some images here and there will work as well?
My answer is no; there’s a benefit in creating consistency with your branding because consistency = professional, trustworthy, inviting to connect.
The effort you will put in your visual content will come back to you, helping you develop an audience that links with you and overall trusts you, stops comparing you on price and adheres to your unique story. Got it?