Anyone who’s ever flipped through a magazine or surfed the internet will tell you that these are visual mediums. Wherever you look there are bright colours, clever graphics and intriguing images (thank you Photoshop) to catch your eye and entice you to read the text.
With marketing messages coming at us from all sides, it takes more than a headline and a bit of text to grab our attention. This is where visuals can help to convey part of your message. You still need interesting and engaging content in order to provide value to readers or website visitors but it is true that many people don’t “read”, online or off; instead, many of us prefer to skim or scan instead. For this reason, you need to communicate not just in words but visually as well. Colours and images establish tone; graphics and layout provide order and suggest the importance and hierarchy of information while leading the reader through your website or ad.
It’s important then, to have good pictures. By “good” I mean interesting, thoughtfully composed, properly lit, in-focus photos that communicate your message to the visitors of your site or the readers of your ads, email newsletters, event posters, etc.
A picture is worth a thousand words
We all know the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”. This holds true when it comes to marketing, but only if it connects clearly to your message. Close enough won’t do. Make sure the pictures you choose are as direct and to the point as your message should be.
To illustrate what I’m talking about I’ll refer to one of poloDesign’s clients, RiverSide Music. Owners Maggie and Peter George sell musical instruments and provide music and art lessons to students of all ages. They asked for our help when embarking on a project to double the physical size of their store. They were going to have a lot of wall space and wanted us to suggest creative and attractive ways to use it effectively. Prior to the expansion they used a lot of small 8.5″x 11″ signage created on their computer to communicate offers and talk about the products and services the store offered. This was functional but lacked the polish and professionalism they wanted to project.
Our solution was to choose a number of stock photo images with which we created large 2 foot by 3 foot posters set in attractive frames. Each poster had an accompanying tag line and included the new logo we created to provide a fresh new look for the business. This branding was reinforced by painting the walls in the same blue as the logo. The images were carefully chosen so that, even without the tag line, you would understand the messages we wanted to communicate. More importantly, the messages were short, to the point and could easily be stated in ten words.
“We teach music to children and adults. Come and see.” or “Whatever instrument you play, we’ve got it here for you.”
The project was a success. Best of all, the images we chose were suitable for use in many of the ads RiverSide Music have run in local publications and on Facebook over the past year and a half. This was also a part of our strategy for establishing an identifiable brand for this growing local business. Creating brand recognition is yet another reason for choosing and consistently using strong images that communicate well.
But what if you can’t find such images? Or what if your business requires something a little more specific? Again, don’t settle for close enough. If your intention is communication and branding, isn’t it worth investing in that part of your business? To get the images you need, it may well be worth hiring a professional photographer.
This was the suggestion we put to another of poloDesign’s clients, Chef Mike Benninger. Chef Mike provides his services as a personal chef in and around Burlington, Ontario, catering small parties and events in people’s homes or businesses. We created Chef Mike’s original website a few years ago and it has helped to make his business a success. Now, as part of an overall rebranding, we are building him a new site.
The previous site focused more on Chef Mike’s services. The choice in building the new site is to shift the focus onto the experience of having a personal chef come to your location to prepare and serve a fabulous meal to you and your guests. It wouldn’t be enough to simply include stock images of food or people at a dinner party. And since the face of the business is Chef Mike, his face should appear in some of the shots. Better still, since the focus is on the experience, wouldn’t it make sense to capture Chef Mike in action?
To do this we suggested hiring a professional photographer and staging a dinner party with guests in a private home, a typical setting for Chef Mike. We contacted award-winning photojournalist Charlene Zeljkovic of ProPictures in Belleville, Ontario to do our shoot. We approached friends with a wonderful lakeside house to be our hosts, we set a date for February 20th, and will finalize the guest list, menu and other details in the coming days.
We’re looking forward to the fun and the food, but also to creating some magical images which communicate a distinct message in only ten words. What message will we want readers to receive regarding Chef Mike’s service?
How about this: “Looks like fun and the food looks great — hire him!”