5 useful questions you need to improve your visual impact
One of the best memories I have of growing up is going to see the department store windows at Christmas time. My mom would take me on the train downtown and we would get all bundled up and walk passed the State Street windows in Chicago to see what story they would tell each year. It would always be something different and magical, and I would wait with anticipation to see the imagery unfold in each scene.
That whole experience was something that stuck with me all these years all the way from the cold, crisp air to being swept away by the stories created in the windows. Every year, the windows would evoke a feeling of Christmas for me. Of warmth and coziness and magic. They would enchant me with the colors and movement and make me feel excited to be a kid at Christmas.
Those department store window designers sure knew what they were doing when they created those window scenes. They were painting a picture and drawing people in with the feelings they were creating. I mean, that was serious marketing right there, and you know what, I always remembered those stores. I always knew I would go back there to connect with those stores again because they told a story through imagery. They connected their brand with something that took hold of me in a way that not many things had. And in my mind, they became synonymous with comfort, joy, and magic.
Hooking your audience like that is an incredible thing. You’ve gotta tell a story or paint a picture to make people really take a second look at you and your business and determine if that’s the story they can connect to. You need to get across your message and relate it to your audience in a way where they just know inherently that it’s for them.
Okay, so let’s talk about making this impression on someone for a minute. According to Conversion XL, you only have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression before someone moves on from your site. Yeah, your design and visuals are seriously that important. It’s not even about the copy that they’re reading on your pages. It’s actually the visual stuff that you’re presenting because many people really only check out how visually appealing it is, absorb the visual content, and skim the rest. So yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.
So, if you take a look at the photos on your blog and social media, and you’re thinking, “Yeah, I need to update those,” then chances are your ideal customer is thinking that, too. The images that we use are so critical these days because we’re competing with the new technological advances that make everyone a photographer and everyone a graphic designer. You really need to step up your game if you’re gonna be part of the game let alone stand out from the rest.
Okay, so how in the world are you supposed to do this when it’s just you running your business on a shoestring in your home office? Well, I’m gonna run you through several things to think about when you’re evaluating your business photography so that you can make the right changes on your own to really up your game.
1. Do my photos reveal the personality of my brand?
The first thing you want to ask yourself is what type of characteristics are coming through in the images you’re presenting on your website, social media, and anywhere else you put out visual content. You need to be aware of how you’re presenting yourself because you could come across totally different from the branding that you actually want to achieve. For example, if your logo is flowery and you like to use script fonts, then you don’t want to have imagery that’s harsh or severe looking. It needs to consistently represent the personality that you’re building for your brand as a whole, just as if your business was a person taking on its own characteristics.
Now, the right answer to the question here would be that your images align with the style of your brand as a whole. That means you’re going to have to really think about your business as having characteristics such as being modern, upscale, fun, or edgy. Whatever style you choose needs to carry through in all the visual content you put out. If you decide to be edgy, then don’t put a photo out of you smelling some flowers. It sends the wrong message about who you are and the approach that your business is taking.
2. Do my photos reveal my personality as the owner?
This one is similar to the first question but slightly different. You are the representative of your brand, so it’s wise to put some of yourself into your business. It helps you to present a more human side of your business and also to make it align with your uniqueness. I mean, it’s so much easier to be yourself and attract an audience who loves you for it rather than put on a facade and try to make it work.
The best thing you can do for your brand is inject some of your own personality into it and start to tell your story. You might need to ask yourself how much you feel comfortable putting yourself out there, but ultimately it’s really just about giving your audience enough to understand who you are and make a connection to you as a person. You can do that by taking little elements from your life that you enjoy and incorporating them into your images and graphics. This could be anything from loving to laugh and always sharing photos of you smiling to showing people how much you love snuggling at home with your cat. Just make sure it’s a glimpse and not TMI, okay?
3. Do my images relate to my brand design?
So we talked a little bit about whether your visual content relates to your brand personality, but here we’re going to talk about the actual design of your brand. You’re going to specifically use components of your brand design in your visual content. I’m talkin’ colors, fonts, placement of elements, patterns, and anything else that is part of your overall design (which should be consistent, right?).
Now, this is an easy on to evaluate. Just make sure you already have the basic design elements that you will always use hashed out so that you can incorporate them here. So from now on, when you go to create an infographic for a blog post or have a text overlay on a social media image, you can use the exact same colors, fonts, and other elements on those things as you would anywhere else on your pages and profiles.
Oh, and don’t forget to even include your brand colors in what you wear, props you use, and the backgrounds you have for your photographs. This is something easy to do to tie it all together and make sure there’s consistency in what you’re putting out. It really helps to make your brand look polished to your audience.
4. Do the images convey the feeling I hope my audience to get from my content?
This one is big. It’s how you’re gonna make a serious connection with your audience. When you look at your imagery, there needs to be some sort of feeling that you evoke. It can be uplifting, motivating, or even sympathetic. You just need to decide what feeling you want your audience to get when they look at your visual content.
The best answer to this question is going to be one that relates right back to your brand personality. If you have a fun and light brand, then you may want to create images that always make people feel cheerful and give them a smile. You’re creating an emotional connection with your imagery that they will always draw upon when they think of your brand. This is powerful stuff, and it’s something that you want to make sure you get right if you want to create some seriously loyal fans.
Okay, so If that’s not what you’re already conveying to your audience, then you need to make some adjustments. You can start by determining 3-4 adjectives that describe your brand and bringing these descriptors into your photography and images when you create them. It could be as simple as having a “happy” brand, and you would then use imagery that is consistent with being happy such as balloons, confetti, or always showing yourself smiling. You get the idea.
5. Are my images relatable to my audience?
For this last question, you want to make sure that you’re putting out content that your audience can identify with in some way. You need to convey that you understand them and what they’re going through or how you can help them make a change. Now, this can be done very subtly or just blatantly. You can decide based on your brand’s personality. The point, though, is that you help your audience to see that you’re not just selling something but that you actually care and are exactly like them.
Here’s where you might need to start putting some thought into your content before you create it. You need to think through what your audience’s life is like and what scenes or imagery you can create to make it hit home for them. That feeling that you’re supposed to be creating from your images is tied directly to this because you’ll be creating those feelings based around the scenes you set.
So, you need to do some brainstorming here, but I’ll give you a few suggestions. If you’re a mom blogger and write about your family life, then you may want to include photos of you playing at home with the kids. If you’re a graphic designer talking about creating websites for clients, then you might show photos of your desktop computer while you have your latest logo designs pulled up on the screen. You can set the scene for the shot you want, but I would suggest making it in some way genuine to make it relatable.
Whew! Alright, I know that was a lot to think about, but I’m tellin’ ya, those tips are gonna take your photos, videos, and graphics to the next level. When you implement those five things, you’ll start getting noticed and your ideal customer is gonna feel like your best friend instead of you having some stiff business that doesn’t know their name.
My suggestion is to do this audit on your visual content at two different times: 1. when you’re planning out your content before you create it and 2. every quarter to evaluate the consistency of your brand and make adjustments as needed. Don’t just run through the questions once and then be done with it. You can always come back to make sure that everything is working in conjunction with the brand you hope to be building.
For now, I’d love to know if you're feeling good about your content after reading all those tips. Are you on track or do you have some serious things to think about? Go down to the comments below and let me know the biggest change you’ll make to your images now that you know all these awesome ways to add impact for your brand.