Photography plays a crucial role in delivering the essence of your brand. But why do companies often fail to stay on-brand with their images? How should they be working – even on a tight budget? We asked Crosby’s Creative Director Petrus Olsson to find out.
Should we separate photography from the other brand elements?
Photography is a natural part of the brand and should live in harmony with the other elements – logotype, colours, typography and so on. However, they should strive to strengthen rather than emulate each other. One of the biggest mistakes companies make with photography is to force the brand elements together. It's too easy, too mathematical, too corporate.
"It's too easy, too mathematical, too corporate."
Let’s say your corporate colour is purple, for example. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have purple details in your images. Instead, it’s better to take a step back and find a tonality for your images that truly captures your brand personality. Again, photography should work together with the other elements, but not be bound by them.
A Crosby campaign for Audi which includes graphical elements, the logotype and typography.
A campaign for Wingo cleaning products – a colourful product in a mafia setting.
Why should companies work consistently with their photography?
Well, the simple answer is: because it works. People trust and are naturally drawn to brands they recognize, particularly if they hold promise of the things we value, for example quality or a certain lifestyle. Look at all the large, successful companies out there. They are extremely strict with their imagery. However, being consistent doesn’t mean static. Continuously making small adjustments that are in line with internal or external changes will benefit you in the long run.
Why do they struggle?
When we work with a brand, I want to be able to fully understand and capture the personality of it. You want to adhere to the brand’s history, culture, values and ambition. Many brands work with a plethora of agencies and photographers which makes it difficult to keep a holistic concept together. The briefs provided for different projects can vary in quality or depth, which can lead to images from different campaigns being too far apart from each other.
"You want to adhere to the brand’s history, culture, values and ambition."
Ideally, as a photographer, you would want both a project brief and somewhere to find overall guidelines for tonality and imagery to make sure you carry out a good job. In that way, the client can also assure that agencies follow their guidelines and deliver projects that do the brand justice.
Finally, how should brands on a tight budget work with photography?
Figure out who you are or who you want to be and apply that to your imagery. Naturally, when you have no budget you might have to get creative yourself but the starting point is always the same. If you have some budget for photography, make sure you rather have a few images that portray your brand in the perfect way than loads of images that don’t.
Petrus Olsson is Creative Director at the production agency Crosby. He has worked with companies like Audi, Stadium and Electrolux, as well as several well-known agencies around the world.