How Photography is Essential to Corporate Branding

Corporate photography is a means by which companies communicate their personality, uniqueness, and professionalism to customers, and understanding this could help you land a lucrative job. Corporate photography of the past was limited to images of smiling professionals and handshakes of people in business attire. Often these images were co-opted from stock photos.

In the competitive world of business today, companies realize the importance of using a corporate photographer to create a specific personality of the company at large as well as of their employees.

This is all about branding a company in the minds and hearts of customers, demonstrating a personal side of the business that not only creates a connection with customers, but also differentiates the company from the competition.

Corporate photography used in branding involves images that will appear on websites, in brochures, and most importantly on social media. These images include on-location photographs or headshots of the company leaders, team photos, images of the office environment of the company, images of products and/or services, and even corporate events or meetings, of which the latter can be uploaded to Twitter and Facebook in real time or used in later publicity endeavours.

An example of successful branding through photography is the popular brand Pottery Barn. When you hear the name, it is likely that a distinct image of the brand will come to mind due to the certain style or look that the company has established through photographic branding. The brand achieved this by the consistent execution of certain defined styles over a period of time.

Pottery Barn
Example of distinct Pottery Barn imagery.

Pottery Barn brand photography always shows an inviting and warm room that is made up of actual products and pieces they sell. Any and all creative decisions are made based upon the specific brand, maintaining consistency over time. This is the secret to branding with photography, especially in a saturated and competitive environment. It is important to create a relevant and memorable brand through photography that is not only strong, but also experiential.

The power of photography should be used to its maximum effect to stand out from the crowd and to visually communicate everything possible about the brand.

Feeling a Connection

Photography used for branding must begin with company leaders and other personnel and employees. Headshots are important, but in the competitive market it is important to be creative with these images so customers can feel a connection.

Men Fashion Men Portrait Business
Photo by -J. Nilsson Photo

This means trying to avoid the boring pose that can be seen around the web in any number of brochures. This pose is of a person in three-quarter view from chest-level and with some boring solid neutral background. This type of image says the company is boring, stiff, and uncreative. It is more difficult to inculcate any type of brand loyalty without some type of personal connection.

There are some types of companies or professions that do require a certain degree of traditional style when it comes to headshots. For instance, the culture that people want from a law firm needs to be one of professionalism and trust.

Headhshot Lawyer

This means that quirky headshots would not be appropriate; however, it is still important to incorporate a bit of modern flare with the traditional style that is required. Whether the head shots are traditional or more modern they should represent a consistency between what is posted on social media and on the company website.

Corporate headshots will help to humanize the company; they will increase recognition with business contacts, as well as enhance the buy-in of key employees for the company. Brand recognition is increased when using cohesive corporate headshots and a high level of organization will be inferred. It is important to create a good first impression by the use of headshots that are appropriate to the type of company.

The Next Web Conference 2010
Photo by The Next Web Photos

Team Photography

Common in corporate branding is team photography. This is an ideal way of giving consumers a feel for the company as a whole. It is also a way to attract new and talented employees to the brand. Many modern companies are going for a feel of uniqueness over conformity, thereby foregoing a specific dress code. There may be a certain style of dress that is appropriate for different business models, but in a highly competitive and creative market, avoiding the feeling of conformity can be advantageous.

In fact, this along with using non-traditional locations for the photography can help promote the company’s culture and personality. Examples of the latter are images of team members taken at a sporting event, instead of just standing underneath signage in the office.

It helps when taking team photos to make the photography session light-hearted and fun so those being photographed do not tighten up and end up posing awkwardly. One great way to convey a real feeling of the personality and culture of the office environment is to take photos of employees in the midst of their element.

Simply roam around the office and take candid shots of the team at work. If there are unique and awesome break areas, like with ping-pong tables and other interesting elements that speak to the culture of the company, be sure to capture it with photos.

Interior Design & Offices

While photographing the team in their element will surely capture some of the personality and culture of the company, so too will photographing the element itself. That is, photographing the office design itself speaks to the organization and culture of the company.

The office layout communicates to potential employees and consumers the personality and culture of the company. An understanding of interior architectural photography is a must when shooting office spaces.

Google Office in Zurich
Google Office in Zurich

When it comes to attracting potential talent to the company the photographing the design of the office environment will show how it is that employees perform their jobs as well as how well the company feels about its employees. This is something that is also important to many consumers, who can connect to a brand that is sensitive to the needs of and appreciates the work of its employees.

The workspace is a direct reflection of the company or corporation. It is important to capture the office design and any pertinent branding within the environment through photography to communicate the feel and to create a connection to the brand.

Manchester Square Office

For instance, the photographs of the Manchester Square office interior is intended to give the feel of a gentlemen’s club rather than an office. The photograph captures the conservative contemporary style of the furnishings, expressing an environment that is work, play, and relaxation all in one.

The brand makes the office area feel like a place that employees would actually enjoy spending their days and maybe even their Friday nights.

Manchester Square
Manchester Square office interior.

Another photographic example is the offices of the most popular company in the world of online poker. These images capture the bright, clean, organized, but innovative nature of the PokerStars brand. The personality and culture communicated by these photographs is one of professionalism and trust. The photos show an office space that is truly an invigorating work environment, but more importantly, a brand that instills confidence in the products and services they provide.

PokerStars Offices PokerStars Offices PokerStars Offices

Photographs of Products & Services

Photographs of the product(s) and/or service(s) demonstrate more than just the elements that are being sold, but also the brand itself. If the company is service oriented these photographs will include images of employees that are in action. These photos need to capture the experience of the client.

When selling products, the photographs should be beauty shots and in-action shots, both of which will mesh with the branding and/or packaging design. All elements of the photos should enhance the product and the brand, rather than distract.

Ray Ban

Depending upon the products, it may be necessary to create how-to photo manuals that will assist consumers in the how to utilize the products. These are infographics; photographic representations that are designed to explain how a product and/or service works.

This way, photographic elements are combined with maybe a few words to illustrate a complex idea, rather than requiring consumers to read long paragraphs to explain the same idea.

Citizen Watch PokerStars

Corporate Event Photography

Lastly, corporate branding can be accomplished through corporate event photography. This means taking photographs of employees and guests taking part in corporate events. These events may include receptions, conferences, holiday or birthday parties, or even sales events. In this way potential employees and consumers can witness the personality and culture of the company in action outside of the office.

It is just another way to express what the brand is all about, while providing opportunities for people to connect to the brand in a very personal way.

CFC Garden Party 2012
Photo by Canadian Film Centre

Building a brand with photography involves creating desire, being consistent, being distinctive, reflecting the personality of the brand, and showing products clearly and accurately.

Photographic branding requires products and services to be shown off in the most desirable way, the photographic style to remain consistent as the brand is also consistent, the need to be unique from other leaders in the market, to put a face on the product(s) or service(s) in such a ways that allows the audience to identify and connect with the brand, and ultimately to make the brand the hero in the photography and not the props or styling.

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