Establishing a Brand: Creating Visual Elements
Wait, there's more to do after learning about brand identity, developing a voice, and creating a logo for a new brand?! Yeah, you're not done yet. You'll need to develop visual elements like photos, videos, and a website.
Creating engaging photos, intriguing videos, and attention-grabbing websites is crucial these days. According to Opt In Monster, 69% of Americans have shopped online so far in 2020. They predict that 91% of Americans will be shopping online by 2023. Therefore, it's safe to say that your business needs to be online. Making a plain website will not be enough though. Currently, 1.3 million businesses use e-commerce in the US, according to Kommando Tech.
For your brand to be successful, you'll need to cut through the noise. Digital Content Manager Robb Cummings and Creative Director Ryan Moore have shared their wisdom to create stellar photos, videos, and web designs.
Why does it matter to take decent photos? Presenting high-quality photos to your audience is extremely important because it's usually what they see first from your brand. The quality of the photo represents the quality and credibility of your brand and the products or services it offers.
Taking a random photo isn't enough. Photos need to be on brand. If your apparel line produced garments with gritty, moody, intense designs but the brand photos were bright and bubbly, it would give customers an off-putting experience. Photos provides insight to the look and feel of the brand, and you want people to vibe with your brand so nailing the photos is key.
When beginning to plan and brainstorm photos, it's important to ask yourself the following questions first:
- How would you describe your brand in three words?
- How do you convey the brand's feel through photos?
- How do you make these photos worthwhile to your audience?
- What's something you can do on a regular basis that maintains the brand's feel?
Photo by Salt & Pine Co.
Remember when we dove into developing a brand's voice? When making the voice, you needed to come up with three to five adjectives to describe the brand's personality. You could use those adjectives to guide the style of the brand photographs. If they don't quite fit for photos, use them as jumping off points to find the words that'll be visually represented in each photo. By selecting those words will you be able to start brainstorming how you're going to convey those feelings through the visuals.
Why should your audience care about looking at your photos? By adding meaning or intention behind each photo does it become worthwhile to the audience. Maybe it's a silly picture to make people laugh, an educational post to share information, or an artistic photo to spark creativity. Whatever your brand stands for, find a purpose that aligns with the brands values and will enrich people's days when they see your photos.
Lastly, you're going to have to create content, a lot. You don't need to jump knees-deep into it at the start. Look at your schedule and all the tasks you'll be doing on a regular basis and decide what is achievable when it comes to taking photos. You want to maintain a consistent look with the photos you produce so finding a routine you can manage is necessary.
PRODUCT VS. LIFESTYLE PHOTOS
Product photography, as you can probably guess, are photos of the products you are selling. Lifestyle photography captures your product or service in real life. For a brand, you'll need to incorporate both of these types of photos.
An apparel line will definitely have product photos to show off the garments. For a screen printing business, product photos may exhibit jobs you've done in the past, designs you have created, and other parts of your service. Check out Golden Press Studio's video to learn how to take the best product pics.
With lifestyle photos, you can get creative. These photos could show people wearing the shirts in public, an intriguing flat lay, you screen printing the garment, etc. But, don't go too crazy. Each lifestyle picture shouldn't be drastically different (unless that's part of your brand). Robb suggests finding an element(s) that tie all the photos together.
"Find nice little touches to bring the brand to life," said Robb. "Make it interesting and make it yours."
For example, when Robb and Ryan worked for an apparel line called Lonely Dinosaur, they had two pieces they included in every lifestyle pic — the photo captured one, lonely person and that person was wearing a dinosaur mask. These two elements were on par with their branding, it made their content unique and fun, and it was easy to replicate.
Get creative, but keep it consistent.
Photo by Lonely Dinosaur.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Robb and Ryan have already shared a ton of goodies, but there's more to know.
Know what you are going to shoot. Before going into a photoshoot, create a plan or a list of shots that you want to take. Having an idea of what you want to capture will make the shoot run smoother.
Think about where you want the photos to exist. Whether it's for an email, website tile, or social post, all these platforms have different dimensions. A vertical image would not work for a blog header, so knowing where you want the images to live is key when taking photos.
Photography is essentially pre-planning a website. Safe to say that many of the photos you'll take will land on your brand's website. When you're shooting, make sure to take photos that are left- and right-justified. When it's time to design the website, you may need a photo that's left-justified so you can put text on it. By giving yourself more options, you'll have flexibility to switch out and try photos on the site that'll work best.
Give extra room on the images. You can always crop in, but you can't crop out! Robb and Ryan suggest to shoot twice as wide so you'll have more wiggle room when it comes to using the pics on different platforms.
Photo by Rogue Lab.
Seeing businesses that know how to take fantastic photos that are on brand is super helpful when starting out. If you're planning on screen printing for others, you should definitely check out Golden Press Studio and Rogue Lab on Instagram. If you're going to launch your own apparel line, take a look at Symmetree and Salt & Pine Co. on Instagram. All of these shops are inspiring and may spark some ideas for you.
To learn more about photography and videography, Robb says to check out Peter McKinnon on YouTube. The photographer has many videos on a whole range of topics within photography. If you want to dive deep, starting on his channel will not hurt.
WHY DO I NEED VIDEOS
Your video goals are the same as the photography goals. Pinpoint what your brand is about, how to convey those vibes in a video, decide what's worthwhile for your audience, and create a cadence that's achievable.
GENERAL BRAND VIDEO
The first video you should make is a general brand video. To create this video, ask yourself one question:
"If you were to show one video about your company, what would you want to show your audience," Robb asked.
Ideally, you'd want to demonstrate what your business offers, the brand's values, and the brand's personality.
Take a look at Symmetree's original brand video. From the get-go, they make it clear that spending time within their natural surroundings is valuable to them and their apparel line represents that value. Through the scenes of them doing yoga outside, surfing, hiking that transition to the pair working on the clothing line does the team artistically and effectively communicate what Symmetree is about.
Notice how neither of them talked in the whole video? That's totally fine! Robb says if you're not comfortable talking on camera, don't talk on camera. Attempting to do something you don't want to do may come off as awkward and cringy to your audience, which you don't want. When creating the general brand video, do what's best for you and your brand.
After producing a general brand video, future videos will depend on what you're trying to do. Let's look at Symmetree again. Majority of the videos they make are gifs either showcasing different parts of the screen printing process to scenes of nature. These videos best represent their brand and its values as well as provide intriguing, inspiring content that fits well for its audience. Now let's look at Lee Stuart of Rogue Lab. Part of Lee's audience are screen printers; therefore, Lee makes many tutorial videos on different aspects of the screen printing process. This approach works fantastic for Lee because not only is he helping the screen printing community, he gains more clients through these videos due to the high engagement from others clicking with his brand.
Whatever boat you're in, videos are about creating a much more in-depth customer experience. If you need some ideas to get the creative juices flowing, check out Symmetree's Instagram to see their creative gifs or watch videos on screen printing YouTube channels like Golden Press Studio or Lee Stuart.
WHERE TO BEGIN
First, Ryan says to ask yourself a question: What is the purpose of the website? Is it an e-commerce platform or is it a place to display services? When you know the general purpose for your website, research your competition who have similar websites. Discover what you like, what you don't like, what works, what doesn't. Be careful about copying though. Remember, you want to cut through the noise. Creating a website that looks like your competition's site won't stand out.
Once you have a general idea of what you want your website to look like, it's time to start designing.
According to HubSpot, 55% of users spend less than 15 seconds on a website. That's not a lot of time. Within those 15 seconds, you want to grab the customer's attention and encourage them to engage more with your site. To get their attention, you can do a few things.
Focus on your visuals. It could be as big as changing the banner from a static image to a video or something as small as changing the button color from black to red. Every visual detail matters. Change one thing and monitor it for a few weeks to see if it increased engagement or not. Keep testing until you find what performs the best.
Simple is effective. The simpler a website is, the higher the conversion rate (typically). What's the easiest way to get your customer to do what you want? If you're selling apparel, how do you get them to buy the shirt? If you're selling your screen printing services, how do you get them to place an order? Whichever goal you have, you want to ensure the customer has the least amount of hurdles to jump through to get to the checkout. One way to decrease the hurdles is to diminish the amount of clicks it takes to place an order.
Check out Golden Press Studio's website. After the initial banner, there's a description of their main service, screen printing, and a button to place an order. It can't get much simpler than that.
Gotta have the same mindset as you do when taking photos — be conscious of where the website will appear. Potential customers may be viewing your site from a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, a phone, a TV, etc. All these different screens have different sizes, which will affect the way your site looks. Your site needs to look just as good on a mobile device as it does on a desktop. Depending on which website service you are using, the platforms usually show previews of how the site will look on different devices. Check them out carefully and make the needed adjustments.
With the technical stuff out of the way, let's get creative. Think about how you can incorporate more of your brand's identity in the web design. From the logo to the typography to the color schemes, you have a ton of ways to make a website communicate your brand's personality. Keep it simple, but make it yours.
Whew, we made it! Thanks for reading. If you're launching your brand soon, we want to see it. Tag Ryonet or use #ryonet on Instagram and we'll share your progress on our channels. Good luck. You will crush it!