This article explains 3 reasons why it’s important to include image use in your company’s brand guidelines.
Using visuals such as images, photos, illustrations, and videos are an important part of a business’s branding and marketing strategies. We have all most likely heard this famous phrase many times: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This phrase emerged in the early 20th century and was used to commend the effectiveness of graphics in advertising, specifically when introducing the use of images in advertisements on the sides of streetcars. Since images can convey information so effectively and sometimes with stronger messages than words, it is very important the images used by businesses are portraying the correct message. Having a section for image use in the company’s brand guidelines is one of the best ways to ensure the proper use of images throughout the company. In this article we will explain 3 different reasons having a section for image use in the company’s brand guidelines is important.
1. Maintains Brand Consistency
One of the most important reasons to explain image use within the company is it helps maintain brand consistency. Brand consistency is important for a number of reasons beyond just looking nice! The consistent display of the company’s brand is essential for marketing, provides dependability, and creates a sense of trust with consumers through recognition. Maintaining a consistent brand through images can be the factor that has a consumer choosing between your business or a competitor, and that’s without getting into the quality of products or services.
Having a section in the company’s brand guidelines for image use will give the opportunity to explain and display the proper use of any images such as photos and illustrations. This includes aspects such as the mood and tonality the images should provoke, different categories with different guidelines (i.e. people vs. landscapes vs. products), cropping guidelines, sizes to use, viewing distance, and how to apply copy (words) to the images. It’s also popular for the guidelines to have a “do’s and don’ts” section which visually shows the correct vs. incorrect way to use images for the company’s branding and marketing.
2. Clarifies Copyright and Legal Rights
Another significant aspect of explaining image use in brand guidelines is it can provide clarification on copyright as well as legal rights. It is crucial that copyright is understood, explained, and followed when using any sort of images including photos and illustrations for marketing purposes in a business. If the image is going to be seen by customers, including in the business location, online, or for any sort of promotional use, it is essential to follow copyright laws, and also understand people’s legal rights. Privacy laws apply to using a person’s photo for promotional use, so to be safe it is recommended to always get the person’s permission to take their photo and disclose what it will be used for prior to taking the photo. The best way to avoid copyright laws is to have the picture taken by a professional and sold to the business, or taken by an employee, as the copyright then belongs to the company.
Another common practice is to use stock photos. Stock photos are photos that have been taken, edited, and sold to a stock photo site or provider to be used by the public. There are stock photos that have free options; however the paid options tend to have less restrictions on the use of the images. All stock photo providers will describe the legal use of the images on their website. Royalty-free is a common term you will see within the stock photo industry, which generally means you have the right to use any image in commercial, editorial, and personal projects, without any limitations regarding geographic area or duration. The safest images are those that say they are approved for commercial use, meaning they can be used for multiple projects and for-profit use including websites, branding, marketing, and advertising.
3. Explains Where/How to Access
Another great reason to have image use explained in the brand guidelines is it can explain where to access the correct images. Some companies may have a folder of photos that have been taken by a professional for the company and therefore the company owns the image and the copyright. These images can be saved in an approved folder, so employees know which photos are approved for use within marketing or branding. If using stock photos, the guidelines could explain which stock photo site(s) the staff members are approved to use. The guidelines could include who to talk to for more information about image use, and who has access to the login information for the stock photo site(s). Having this information laid out in the guidelines prevents employees from using photos that the company hasn’t approved for use and ensures they know who is able to provide approval or help them with finding answers to their questions.
Guidelines for Image Use
There is a great deal of value in image use for a business’s marketing and branding. With that in mind, there is just as much value in ensuring the images are used properly to reflect the company and portray the correct message. Having set guidelines to maintain the consistency of the company’s brand, follow the copyright and privacy laws, as well as give information to staff members on how to access the approved photos are some of the aspects that reinforce the importance of having those guidelines created. Now that we have discussed why guidelines for image use are important, this may be a great opportunity to see if your company has set guidelines on image use!
For information on what to include in the image use section of brand guidelines, check out Part 2 in this series.
Download this resource Using Images for Your Business: Part 1 – The Importance of Including in Brand Guidelines.