Power Up Your Images

By Mellanie Wulf, Creative Lead, Zadro

The rise of online targeted marketing, algorithms and apps means the power of selecting the ‘right’ images – images with authenticity, that are both striking and emotive – has never been more important in marketing communications.

This new wave of marketing and advertising sees images and content uploaded, mixed and matched, and distributed automatically to your audience based on their asthenic preferences and interests. The idea is that you are sending the right image and content to the right person. This type of automation leaves little room for additional ‘creative flair’; such as animation, so the quality of your images is paramount.

Even if you are not dabbling in the world of automation, if you want impact, get ready to ramp up the quality and authenticity of the images you use.

So how do you get the ‘right’ images? If you choose to use custom imagery, how do you maximise the value of this? And if your budget demands stock photography, how can you leverage these photos for the best results?

To stock or not to stock

Stock photography has changed the world – it’s easily accessible, fast, and cost effective. While stock photography can be very impactful, if images are not carefully selected and treated, this option can lack unity for a campaign or come across as cheap, non-genuine and positively cringe-worthy in some applications.

In this new world of automation, I would dare to say that original photography is sometimes the preference… so start allocating space in the budget! It’s simply the best way to achieve authenticity, showcase your people and tell your story.

So… How do you maximise the expense of the ‘traditional’ photoshoot?

  1. Have a clear brief which caters for flexibility
    Tell your photographer not to crop the subject matter. This can be done in post-production and allows images to be used in multiple applications and different sizes. Other considerations include depth of field, tone, expressions, grooming and backgrounds. Look to create a brief which will allow for multiple use applications
  2. Consider locations
    With some careful thought given to location you can achieve multiple shots and backgrounds in the one shoot
  3. Work out how you can repurpose, repurpose, repurpose!
    If you are taking profile shots, plan out some group shots to be taken with the talent at the same time (and vice versa). Think strategically to plan how you can use the photo shoot to gather ‘real stories’ or additional shots which can be used in case studies, testimonials, advertising, sales collateral and reports. You want to be rolling these images out alongside your content and strategy plan
  4. Be smart about updates
    You may not be able to bring in the professional photographer every time you need to update a picture, or be able to replicate the environment. Consider using a range of backgrounds in your photoshoots, allowing you to mix and match in the future or in a tight squeeze

I’ve got to stock it! How do you leverage your stock and add authenticity?

  1. Don’t overlook ‘real people’
    We are not all Australia’s Next Top Model, so don’t be scared to use real looking people. It will add authenticity and relatability for your audience
  2. Choose a theme
    Using a theme for images is a great way to provide unity to stock photography, particularly for a campaign. Look for images with similar lighting style, background colour or general look and feel, e.g. retro
  3. Consider a photo treatment or watermark
    Using a duotone treatment on stock photography is a great way to add your own brand flavour to images. Alternatively, you can use one of your brand elements as a watermark over images for consistency and unity
  4. Showcase YOUR products
    Instead of simply showing stock images of a person looking at a mobile phone, show a person looking at a mobile phone with your product on their screen. It acts as product placement and helps familiarise the audience with you and your product
  5. Use your images to tell a bigger story
    If you have a service which you want to promote… perhaps you can introduce this visually in the background of an image, for example, you may offer CAD design. When showcasing a picture, introduce a subtle CAD schematic into the background. Perhaps one of your key messages is quite fun – making you a rock star – play on this with a collage of stock images

I believe the more you show your audience that you care enough to add some depth to your images, the more they will resonate with you, your brand and the story that you’re telling. Investing in quality, authentic and engaging images is the only way forward.

We’ve all heard it… a picture says a thousand words. If you have great images paired with relevant and meaningful content, your audience wont’ cringe, they’ll want to find out more.

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