Once you have your brand story and your why down pat, simply shouting it from the rooftops is not enough. Although your lovely neighbors may follow, it’s not exactly what we’d call a sustainable strategy…
Think about it. You’re scrolling through your Insta feed, and you see a visual that you may not even realize is an ad. Its colors are bright, it’s alluring. You take a second to stop your mindless scrolling and dive a little deeper. Oh, it’s an ad! Meh, I’m not interested in that type of product, anyways. So you get back to scrolling.
Every time you stop what you’re doing to take in the beautiful imagery in front of you, you have encountered an amazingly effective visual brand.
But defining and executing this for your brand can be a tricky process. It’s a strategy you want to nail, though. Your visual brand is an invitation for the world to stop and get to know you better…
There are a few key elements that form this visual DNA.
The Key Elements of a Visual Brand
The mascot and symbol for your brand. It’s the first thing someone will start to notice when they become familiar with your brand. Think about some of your favorite brands; I bet you can see their logo in your head right now.
The style of text you use is a great way to show off your brand’s personality before they even read your ‘About Me’ page. A good rule of thumb is to NEVER use more than three fonts on one asset (graphics, your web page, etc.)
As visual beings, color is e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Your color palette is a tool that you can use to determine your brand’s mood(s). How? Colors have the power to stir up emotion in our subconscious mind, so you’ll want to choose wisely.
Images also deserve a special shoutout. I’m not talking about the lovely headshot photo you posed for five years ago; you need (and deserve) so much more than that. What I am talking about… is brand photography.
Images that showcase who you are, what you do and why you do it. Professional photos with a consistent look and feel = brand credibility. I mean, who wants to put their faith in a brand that cycles through stock images or doesn’t have a consistent look and feel?
Stock vs. Styled Images
There are two types of photos. In this case, anyways. Raise your hand if you hate boring stock photos? Me, me! I hate boring stock photos, and you should, too.
You want to stand out from the crowd, right? Style your own images, and you’ll start to set yourself apart from the crowd.
Show ≠ tell
Here’s a pro-tip for your brand story version of show and tell: Your caption doesn’t need to match your image.
I’ll say it again for the people in the back, your caption does not need to match your image.
You have a picture you want to post on Instagram, but you don’t know how to caption it. I could post a picture of myself eating pizza AND talk about how excited I am for my new launch.
Wait, wait, what are you doing?!
Being authentic by sharing a photo and a slice for my audience to enjoy.
I’m then using language relevant to my brand, services and what I’m selling to really increase my Know, Like, Trust factor.
The image is intended to draw the audience in and get them to stop scrolling because A). everyone loves pizza, you can’t change my mind and B). the caption is where you can provide value.
Consistency is EVERYTHING
At the end of the day, a visual brand will only make an impact if it’s compatible. Here are some of my top secret tips (I guess not so top secret anymore…) for creating a consistent and dreamy Instagram feed (and save you time).
1. Create a Content Vault
When was the last time that you organized all the photos on your iPhone? How many Memes or duplicate photos of your dog being the best boy ever could you probably delete to fill up to reduce space on your phone?
Let’s take the time to make a strategic content bank for you!
+ Create a new folder for your on-brand AF images.
+ Look through old photos and pull things that visually represent your brand.
+ Go on a walk and take some photos that you can use in your feed
+ Make a storyboard for content creation shoot
+ Pull out a tripod, macgyver something or recruit your Instagram husband for a photoshoot
2. Edit with Ease
Editing is vital because if you’re using your phone, you will be getting auto exposed photos where the white balance and other settings are different each shot.
To create a cohesive look, you need to use pictures representing your brand and editing them in a style that makes your brand recognizable to your audience. If you’re using a pro or semi-pro camera, you may already be familiar with editing, and it’s benefits.
+ Pick a style + stick with it.
Edit Each photo in a way that will give you consistent results.
+ Increase the exposure or brightness of the image every time.
Your whites should look white, not gray or yellow. Theoretically, your blacks should look black, not gray or blue, but that’s really a stylistic thing. In this day and age so I can let that one go, but…. I’m serious about the whites. You have a lot of control over this by editing the exposure and the shadows.
+ Use the same filter every time on Instagram or VSCO… but make adjustments on the exposure and shadows to make the image look its best.
+ Utilize presets.
They’re the best way to ensure you get the exact mood you’re going for! Maybe you’re dark and moody or light and airy or bright and beautiful or somewhere in between. The editing style should match your brand colors. It doesn’t make sense if your brand color is baby blue and all of your images are dark and moody. This is where the mood board can really come in handy to help you make decisions!
+ Once everything is edited to your liking, store all of these photos together in one place.
I prefer to use cloud services because I can grab images on the go if I need to.
+ Tada! Step back and admire your hard work.
Editing photos is almost effortless when you’re looking at them in a grid view, so zoom out to see how everything works together.
Does it feel like things are missing? Maybe the colors aren’t right for the feed to look cohesive? Fill in the gaps with graphics and ideas for new photos to take. Grab your planner, buy yourself a bouquet of flowers, arrange your favorite skincare products in nice light…
Do whatever it takes to make the whole feed feel on brand. Take a step back and admire the hard work you didn’t know you were doing when you were snapping aesthetic photos with your iPhone all along!
3. Schedule out your gorgeous new posts!
Write out a week of posts at a time and then schedule an app like Later because you know we all love to save time.
Pro tip: Write out each post in a Google Doc before scheduling it. Save all of this content because you can totally just go back and tweak some things and use the same captions again in a couple of months. As long as they are value-driven and interesting to your audience, I guarantee no one will notice.
Having your own brand-specific images allows you to express your brand personality in a truly unique way. You can use these new images everywhere from your website, blog and podcast to your social media channels and marketing campaigns.
Getting Started with your Visual Brand
All this visual talk sounds great, but where do I get started?
+ Get back to the brand story. You need to have a well-defined brand story before you can move on to the visual piece.
+ Create a Pinterest mood board. This is a fun step in the process.
Think about this: what’s your ideal lifestyle? How does your business get you there? What inspires you? Where would you like to travel? What colors really resonate with you? What’s your design style?
+ Research, research, research. Research your competitors. Your audience. What do they like? What other pages do they follow? How are you and your offering different?
Oh Hey, I’m Brianna…
As a brand photographer and an Emmy Award-winning video producer, I’ve spent a lot of time studying, watching, listening and learning about what makes a powerful story. I want to bring that to you.
I knew my clients needed more than just brand photography; they needed a custom strategy. So I developed the Brand Story Method, a personality-driven content creation plan that puts YOU at the center of your brand. With you at the center, your audience becomes raving fans.
Now that you know my story, what’s yours? My Brand Story Roadmap will help you dive deeper into your why with a personalized strategy session.