Developing a Photography Style that Connects // Emotional Branding

How does your brand imagery make your audience feel?

If you have never asked that question, your brand identity is likely not what it could be. The right visual strategy tells people that you're trustworthy, or fun, or relaxing, or tough. Basically, that you are worth doing business with. 

How you market your brand triggers customers emotionally, and it influences decisions to buy your product or use your service. This is called emotional branding. And this approach, when done right, can build powerful brand loyalty by demonstrating that you have a genuine understanding of your customer's needs and dreams. 

Photography and video is one of the most effective ways to bond with your customers. According to marketers, visual assets are core to customer engagement, but a study from the CMO Council found that many marketers fail to utilize the medium to tell their brand story. 

Successful brands focus on storytelling that inspires and captivates customers, and visuals are vital to that process. So today, let's focus on your brand's photographic style. The end goal is to achieve a look that is true to you and connects with buyers.

Rendering Our Point: The Great I//A Office Migration

As of May 1, 2018, Ivor Andrew began operating out of our new building on 1901 North Gary Avenue. This exciting change meant moving 13 years of hardware, software, kitchenware, and loungewear.

Our talented photographers took this opportunity to take photos of the same content, but they gave the imagery their own context and style. The takeaway is this: By controlling the location and content of your shoot, you can illustrate different photographic styles and create different emotional responses with ease.

Let's take a look!

Document the world around us. This photography is natural in color and lends itself to support a story or chronicle an event. People in these images are not posed and scenes are not staged. It is the ability of the photographer to capture an event in time. You will see images like these used in editorials supporting text. For example, universities like to focus on this style of candid photography to show prospective students images of people who are involved in their surroundings. Students engaged in authentic, hands-on activity. It is easy to imagine ourselves in any of these images.

Immediately, we recognize these are black and white photos. But what really makes them unique are all of the other related attributes. Notice the cropped framing of each subject and head on perspective. The images are searching for patterns, texture, and shapes - playing with composition and geometry. Overall, these photos communicate a serious intellectual tone.

Dynamic and bold! These photos scream Ivor Andrew identity standards. Our brand color palette is clear in each photo. Commonalities here include saturated color, increased shadow limits, and a wide angle lens giving us a dramatic perspective.  I would describe these as theatrical in context but natural in content. Nothing is posed or fabricated, but it does feel like a grand stage is being set. As our mantra goes, "Dare to be Different".

A studio allows you to control so many things, but it almost always communicates an artificial planned image in comparison to a natural candid photograph. Besides the two photos being very dark, these feel created rather than an event captured. Both utilize single light sources which speaks to the requirement for artificial light. Studio work allows you to do create anything, but it starts with darkness. 

Discovering Your Brand Photographic Style

There are more styles than shown here and attributes to consider when communicating emotion through your imagery. All brands have an aesthetic whether it is intentional or happening passively. This leads to positive or negative emotional responses. A photography style guide is key in defining criteria for images to abide by so that all associated works contribute to the overall visual and emotional storytelling. 

So, what needs to be considered?

Consider a mood board. Before selecting images, define guidelines around these attributes of your photography that best fit your brand:

  • Genre (eg. Editorial, Lifestyle, Fashion)
  • Environment (eg. Studio, Outdoors)
  • Lighting (eg. Natural, Silhouette, Artificial, Spotlighting)
  • Content (eg. Model, Product, Landscape)
  • Composition (eg. Symmetrical, Negative Space, Unbalanced)
  • Color Palette (eg. Desaturated, Vibrant, High Contrast, Black and White)

Once you have your images, take an overview of your collection making sure it feels cohesive. This carefully crafted mood board will serve as a visual guide for all brand imagery considerations moving forward. And an amazing thing starts to happen as you build consistent imagery over time. You’ll notice you’re not just sharing photos. You're telling your story and creating intentional emotional responses that align with your audience. 

So give it a shot! 

For more inspiring images, view our full photography portfolio here: Ivor Andrew Photography

Contributing Photographers: Alex Laniosz, Graphic Designer // Stu Hotwagner, Videographer // Doug Carter, Creative Director // Alex Donnelly, Videographer // Dan Katayama, Technical Content Manager