The key to creating high quality branded imagery comes down to knowing your own brand.
Content creators who produce imagery that brands are attracted to typically have one thing in common: consistency. To achieve that consistency, they've developed a strong brand voice that guides them in their creative process.
A brand identity exercise is a great way to start. These exercises typically pose questions like: What does your brand represent? What is your message? What is your tone of voice? What’s your persona? Once you have a true understanding of your brand, you can then translate that into your images. Here are 20 questions that will help you figure out your brand identity.
Once you know your brand’s personality, figure out how your brand translates visually. Nailing down a specific color scheme is a great place to start.
For example, I shaped my brand, Advice from a 20 Something, to represent an authentic, down-to-earth tone of voice. Once I had that decision made, I chose colors that are soft, natural, and cooler toned. Every time I style a shoot or take a photo, I’m conscious of whether or not those colors are represented in the image. I also have specific colors I avoid, like black, bright colors, and primary colors. Creating these rules for yourself will ensure that your images are consistent across the board and evoke the same message as your brand.
Here are a few examples of partnerships I’ve participated in and my process for creating accompanying branded assets:
Lunette: Sponsored Instagram Post
Lunette makes menstrual cups, a healthy & safe alternative to tampons. This definitely wasn’t an easy one to style, considering the product is so unique, but here’s how I went about it. In order to ensure that I stayed true to my brand, I first requested the product in a color that fits my style (blue). Then I created a vignette of a bathroom vanity, keeping in mind my brand’s aesthetic by including natural textures and soft colors. After that, it was easy to incorporate the product into the scene seamlessly.
Coffee-Mate: Sponsored Blog Post Having to incorporate a product and its branded packaging can be tricky. For my blog post with Coffee-Mate, I was required to feature the bottle of iced coffee, logo and all. It’s easy for the images to turn out super sales-y when you’re required to include the packaging. But if you know your brand and stay true to your aesthetic, you’ll be much more successful.
I first came up with a content theme for my post that fit the brand’s requirements while still representing my blog’s voice. I decided to write about “How to Avoid the Sunday Scaries” knowing I could incorporate the coffee into a tip, like “drink your coffee in bed.” From there, I created a scene that fit my brand aesthetic. Adding in the coffee and packaged bottle was easy (and didn’t feel inauthentic) once I had a solid concept in mind and a vision that stayed true to my style. Check out the full post here.
Brands also expect you to deliver professional grade photos. If you’re able to work with a professional photographer, great. But, not everyone has the resources to do so.
If you’re aiming to create high quality photos on your own, here are a few things to consider when setting up your photoshoot:
- Take the time to learn how to use your camera. While it’s easy to leave your camera on its automatic setting, you’ll achieve better photos if you learn how to use it manually. The main things to understand are aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. There are tons of resources online to help you understand some photography basics. What I find most helpful is taking a photo of the same thing over and over and changing the settings each time to learn exactly what they do.
- Lighting is everything! Make sure you are using natural light, without harsh shadows. If you’re inside, that means shooting by a window and turning off any indoor lights. If you’re shooting outdoors, a shaded area or an overcast day are ideal. Either way, make sure you’re not shooting in direct sunlight or you’ll get a lot of shadows.
- Check that everything in the photo aligns with your brand. Consider the backdrop, the props, etc. All of these things should align with your brand colors & persona in some way.
- Capture as many angles as possible. When shooting for a blog post, you don’t want your images to be too repetitive. Shooting from all different angles helps create a variety of images.
If you do have the resources to work with a professional photographer, there are a few things I’d suggest doing to ensure you achieve the best branded assets possible.
- Create a Pinterest board to start getting some ideas together for the shoot. Share this with your photographer so they know what you’re trying to achieve.
- Decide on a location ahead of time, considering the backdrop, lighting, and how it will align with your brand.
- Get your props together. Whether you’re shooting multiple outfits or creating a vignette for a product, gather everything you’ll need before the shoot so you have enough to play with to get the right shot.
- Write down the different shots you’ll need! Depending on your blog layout, you may need certain shots to be horizontal or vertical. The brand may also require certain shots of the product, so it helps to have a list you can refer to during the shoot.
To sum it up...
Making sure your voice stays clear in branded imagery while still following campaign requirements can be tricky. Knowing your own brand inside and out is the first step to navigating that delicate balance with success. If you take the time to develop a unique identity for your brand, then integrating sponsored products will become seamless, which will satisfy both your audience and potential clients.
This article was a sponsored guest post, written by Amanda Holstein on behalf of Collectively.