Make your brand stand out: 8 top tips to win with images

Imagine a boxing match between words and pictures. Pictures would win.

But why? There are several reasons, most importantly the fact that we process the visual more quickly than the literary. Images trigger emotion and, when used in the context of marketing, emotion is then closely associated with your brand. What’s more, studies show that pictures are far more likely to be shared on social media.

Strong, authentic images can lead to great marketing wins. Here are 8 tips to help you get those wins.

1. Every picture tells a story.

Great pictures make us feel – often they make us feel a mixture of emotions, some of which may be contradictory, and many of which cannot be adequately described in words. From Love to Bingo, a Getty Images film by Almap BBDO, shows the journey from youthful love to old age, using 873 Getty Images photographs. It tells a familiar story but in a unique and unexpected fashion. It lasts only one minute, seven seconds, but during that time we experience strong, tangible feelings.


2. Match your brand values.

Your brand has values, so why not use pictures to explore them? This doesn’t mean using tiresome, predictable images again and again. On the contrary, use your marketing to astonish the viewer and explore new brand territories. Uniqlo hosted an entire ad campaign on Pinterest, showcasing their Dry Mesh range. The campaign – which cost nothing in media spend – seized on the insight that Pinterest users love to scroll, as well as rightly predicting that many Uniqlo customers are also on Pinterest.


3. Don’t go for overkill.

In many ways a picture is like a poem: the white space that surrounds it makes it stand out more. A single, great image can work far better than a cluster of good images.


4. Show real people.

With the success of platforms such as Instagram, social photography is having a huge impact on brands; central to this is the belief that when we see real people, we’ll see real emotions. Dove’s Real Beauty “Sketches” campaign is a great example of showing how we perceive, and mis-perceive, our appearance. Photographers and brands increasingly shoot to recreate this authenticity.


5. Don’t make your graphics look like banner ads.

Within the advertising industry many creatives say that the best ad is one that doesn’t look like an ad at all. There’s a lot of truth in this. So play with the unexpected, experiment with the banner, skyscraper and MPU formats. We consume so much digital content that a clever variation from the norm will amuse and engage on a far deeper emotional level.


6. Don’t forget mobile.

Smartphone use is growing fast; for many people, it is now their main interactive platform. It’s not enough to design solely for desk and laptops; it’s essential, too, to test new work on a mobile site and, in this way, to explore new solutions.


7. Be positive.

As a general rule of thumb, positive images tend to get re-sent far more on social networks. It makes sense: we’re all time-poor, so why not promote content that educates and entertains or – if possible – both? Australia’s most shared tweet of 2014 was that of singer Lorde, with a positive body message; the most retweeted post in the history of Twitter is Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the Academy Awards. It’s no coincidence that these are warm, positive images.


8. Test what works for you.

The same advice doesn’t apply to everyone. So find out what works for you, for your audience and for your product.


For 4 more bonus tips and visual examples, download a free pdf copy of iStock’s 12 Tips to Win with Images.


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