The use of images to build a brand

Studio Bg

As digitisation is continuing to become increasingly far-reaching, we're seeing a practically unquenchable requirement for pictures. We're assaulted with images each day, however how might we utilise pictures as an identitiy? We regularly underestimate the value of images. "Wouldn't we be able to simply utilise something we have?" "There's some person at the workplace who can take a couple of shots for us." "I've found a couple of good images on Google we could use." During my time in businesss I've heard these suggestions many times. In this article I outline the benefits of thinking about imagery more seriously when creating or furthering a brand identity.

Good images can create an identity

A logo often takes top priority when creating a brand but there are numerous examples of brands where images actually play as big a part in brand communication. Images and graphics communicate directly and quickly. In a world where things are constantly speeding up, it’s important to communicate with your target audience immediately.

Creating your own style with the brand images can make all the difference in visual communication. When creating a strong focused, identity and brand, it’s important to keep in mind your overarching concept to ensure your images are in line with and communicate the fundamental idea.


ŠKODA KODIAQ for Red Bulletin Magazine


ŠKODA KODIAQ for Red Bulletin Magazine

Image libraries vs taking photos

Creating new imagery for primary aspects of the brand and having ownership of them would always be my first recommendation. Although, each project will have differing requirements and challenges so we would look at the process to achieve the desired objectives. Some brands do not need more than a few brand images, while others are extensive and cover far-reaching, subject matter. However, photography does not have to be expensive or demanding. With a clear strategy, good planning and using skilled people, a lot of photos can be taken at once so that the price per image is lower than buying from an online image library. Plus, they are yours so no one else will have anything like them.

Stock image libraries have become more popular, as you can find pictures of just about anything. The time from finding your image to buying the rights and using it within your brand communication is very short so this may be a good solution for many people, particularly when they need a range from multiple locations. However, these stock images are provided by many photographers from all over the world so creating a uniform stylistic approach for all the images may be challenging.


“Taking photos doesn’t have to be really demanding or expensive.”

How to develop a photographic brand

Create moodboards

Add photos that look the way you picture your own photography working. Collect inspiration from competitors, magazines or lifestyle brands, other products and stock photo sites. Go with your intuition, but also show stakeholders and users your moodboard to see whether it resonates with them.

Aggressively curate, only keeping photos that stand out and harmonise with each other, and eliminate the rest.

Create a style guide with a photography section

Once you start getting a feeling for what kinds of photos are working, look for patterns and collect them into a style guide. Having a playbook for the kinds of brand imagery you want will help you and your team stay focused and consistent. Write guidelines including consideration for these major points:

  1. What kind of content should the photography depict? Products? Lifestyle? Nature? Portraits?
  2. What kind of story should your imagery tell?
  3. What does it convey to the viewer? How should they feel?
  4. How will the photos be edited? Why?
  5. What are the key do’s and don’t’s?

Tell a story

When you choose an image, be critical. Ask yourself, “does this photo make me feel something when I look at it? Is there a story here that draws me in?” Select photography that’s more than just garnish and reach for something more meaningful.

Evaluate each photo

Make sure that meets important visual principles:

  1. Lighting: is it too dark or too bright? Are the important parts of the photo well-exposed, or do their details get lost in pure whites or blacks?
  2. Contrast: is there an appropriate amount of contrast?
  3. Colour: are the colours appealing and harmonious? Do they fit with other content on the screen such as UI and other photos, or do they clash?
  4. Composition: Does it have a strong, compelling composition?
  5. Authenticity: Does it feel real, or forced? Posed shots can be authentic, but they have to capture something true and interesting about the subject.

Be consistent

Brands are created via many interactions over time. Regularly tell the stories associated with your company or product, and use imagery that fits with that guide. Over time your brand will begin to crystallize in the minds of your audience. Ultimately, when done well, someone can look at one of your images without any caption or context, and say “that looks like a [your brand] photo.”


It's, of course possible to make a brand identity without utilising imagery, yet this now like never before is the exception. Pictures can both make and develop a brand personality. These are critical visual instruments for a brand so think about and plan your visual identity, and set a budget that will permit you to execute your objectives. Design agencies often work in partnership with a range of photographers that they know can meet your precise needs and challenges. Photography is a powerful medium so work with your design agency to develop a style that is as one of a kind and as consistent as possible, they may also be able to make recommendations that are new and exciting.

“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”

― Ansel Adams