Staying on brand and within your brand color palette isn’t always easy. Likewise, choosing website brand images can be tricky business.
Recently I was asked to review and provide feedback for a new company website that was preparing for launch. Apart from tweaking some wording and headings here and there, the number one thing that stood out to me was how important images are for a brand.
The images were all wrong.
On their own the images were f-i-n-e. Cool, and some quirky even. But, in the context of the business, many of them were clearly “off brand” or “off message”.
The company was a new start up. Their business was all about offering easy step by step solutions for online customers in a business finance sector. Whilst their colours were slick and stylish, the front page image of a glass lying on its side and an empty glass beside it to me messaged:
‘disorganised, messy, not sure what we are doing.’
On another page which described the streamlined business processes, there was an image of densely planted forest that had been filtered with a colour gradient matching the brand colours (not green I might ad). The image itself was great and edgy, but not in the right place on the website.
It said nothing whatsoever about how the business was going to help me achieve my goals and aspirations. I didn’t want to be lost in thick jungle. Instead, I suggested a lifestyle image such as a carefree couple on the beach, or a family boating outing, or wining and dining at a restaurant. To me these new suggested images would convey the fun and relaxed lifestyle people could have if they used this business service.
So, this got me thinking.
Not only about the images I use for my brand, but what you might want to consider for your brand. It might seem like a relatively small and insignificant aspect in the scale of the many, many things you need to do to launch your business, but it is the first impression you leave on visitors to your website.
AND here’s the crunch – it is therefore also the first impression you leave for potential customers or clients.
You really only get a few seconds to grab the attention of your website visitor. If you missed my first Blog about WHY branding matters – you can check it now here: https://kdigitaldesign.com/business-branding-matters/
What is the best way for new businesses to choose their website images? Here are my 7 tips for choosing the right brand images for your website. There is no 100% right or wrong answers, but giving some thought to your style, your business, your audience, will help keep your visual brand totally connected to your written brand.
1. Who is Your Ideal Client or Target Audience?
It is often said that ‘a picture tells a thousand words’, but what words are you trying to say with your images on your website?
Aesthetics and design are so subjective. What is liked by one person, may not be endearing to the next. Let’s face it, life would be pretty b-o-r-i-n-g if we all liked the same things. Life would be pretty boring if we all designed the same things. AND life would be no fun if all websites looked the same.
Whilst that is true, staying on brand matters, and the images you choose for your brand on your website matter too.
If your business provides personal wealth strategies, targeting self-funded retirees, you are not going to want to use tattoos and nose piercings in your imagery. What if you are a fitness coach, showing images of your chocolate and ice-cream binges is not going to bring in faithful followers. It’s not about YOU, it’s about THEM. You may laugh, but I have seen this done time and time again.
AND that right there is one of the key secrets to a successful website. Let me say it again – it’s not about you, it’s about your ideal client. Sure you need to say and show what you can do, but it needs to be described in a way that puts the emphasis on the client and how you can help them.
Your visual identity through your brand and brand images serves the same purpose. If your customers or clients can see that you are consistent and relevant, then they are more likely to trust in you and your business service or products.
Write down who your ideal client is. What is their age group, gender, pain points, business type. Knowing the answer to these questions will help you choose images that are appropriate to your business and the people you want to provide a service to. The people you want to come and buy from your online shop.
2. what brand message do you want to send?
Having a connection with your customers or your potential clients is important for attracting business as well as keeping your business growing. You can have a fun and vibrant brand, whilst still being professional.
If your brand images are mis-matched and not relevant, it’s going to be hard to keep your customers interested. You may have the cutest dog in the world. But photos of your cute dog are not going to tell your next customer what jewellery items you stock. Likewise they are not going to help a business coach decide whether you have the right social media marketing skills they need to grow their business.
Jot down some key words to describe your message.
3. staying on brand – image “personality”
Inject some personality into your brand images. Whilst the type of images you choose will be relevant to your ideal client or customers and your business niche, let some of your personality shine through in the type of images you choose.
It’s all part of your brand story that you are telling people who visit your site.
4. choose your images
Finally! Choosing the visuals. A mood board or even your branding board is a great way to place some images so you can see what suits your:
- Message; and
- Your business or brand personality
Pinterest is ideal for this. Being a visual search engine it is a great place to source images to help describe your brand. Please keep in mind that when using Pinterest for visual images, you can only use these for your personal use. They cannot be shared or posted or anything without the permission of the owner of the material. And that’s totally fair.
Alternatively you can use Canva [https://www.canva.com/} or Unsplash [https://unsplash.com/] to source your images. There are millions to choose from, especially in the Pro version of Canva.
Paid favourites that I love, are Ivory Mix and Haute Stock. I am in no way affiliated with these brands but they provide so much value, free stock images, plus there are paid stock subscriptions to save you time sourcing relevant images for your own business. Ivory Mix can be found here: https://ivorymix.com/ and Haute Stock here: https://hautestock.co/ Honestly you will find very swoon-worthy images on those sites.
Simply type in some keywords and see what images come up. Try different combinations of keywords and see what impact they have on the type of images, colors and moods.
5. set yourself a timeline
This ‘rule’ or checklist item is more for me than you. Seriously! I can spend days on end researching any topic imaginable, and sourcing photos and images is no exception. As important as images are to your branding, there comes a time when you need to draw a line and move on.
6. you can always change your images
Trust me when I say you can always change your website images. I have been there, as I haven’t always followed my own advice and have spent many an hour researching and looking, and swapping and changing. I even changed my brand color palette before I launched, so anything is possible! This was what helped me lock in a better process for developing your brand story.
Better still is to have a selection of brand images. You may not use them all on your brand board or mood board, but if you take the time in the beginning to find images that are relevant, it will save you a lot of time down the track when you are writing blogs, pinning to Pinterest or posting on social media and LinkedIn.
Every now and then, go for an update of your images, following the same steps set out in this blog.
7. have fun creating and branding
You have made it this far in the step by step process and it is time to pull it all together. Some strategically placed images on your website, with the right content, will convey clear messages to your readers and visitors.
You will want your home page or landing page to be the ‘ultimate’ in terms of your visual branding, as that will determine who stays and who goes. Then work your way through designing each of your website pages with a consistent thread of color, imagery and branding.
So, let’s re-cap:
1. Who is your ideal client or target audience?
2.What brand message do you want to send?
3. Staying on brand – image “personality”?
4. Choose a theme or key words to find suitable images.
5. Set yourself a time limit so you are not agonising for days.
6. You can always change your images.
7. Have fun creating and branding.
The same approach applies to your Facebook page, Instagram feed and Pinterest pins. You need to be on brand and relevant with your brand imagery. I cover this in a lot more detail in an upcoming blog post. So make sure you sign up to my email list to receive the latest tips and blog notifications.
Grab my free brand board template from my website [https://kdigitaldesign.com/) and start playing around with your brand images. It is like shopping and trying on clothes without having to part with any hard earned cash!
Yours in Design,