Using Images for Your Business: Part 2 – Maintaining Brand Consistency

8 mins read

This article explains 5 different aspects to consider including in brand guidelines for image use within the business to ensure brand consistency is maintained.

What is brand consistency? It is defined as the consistent delivery of a business’s message in alignment with their core values, mission, vision, brand promise, customer experience, and the elements of their brand identity. Many companies may think brand consistency is simply having the same visuals such as the colour scheme used and their logo, however it truly comes down to how consumers perceive their brand and the experience they have interacting with the brand. The consistent delivery of a brand creates trust with the customers through reliability, and ensures it is easily recognizable beyond the visuals. Brand consistency can be hard to establish, so it is important to focus on it from the get-go by determining what really matters to the business and what feelings they want to evoke in their customers.

Image use is one of the visual aspects of branding that helps to reinforce the message of a business as photos, illustrations, and other graphic components are used a great deal in a business’s marketing strategies. One of the best ways to ensure consistency is to create brand guidelines, and a section of the brand guidelines should be devoted to image use. In this article we describe 5 different aspects of image use that can be included in brand guidelines.

5 Aspects to Include in Brand Guidelines:

1. Mood and Tonality

The mood and tonality of images used within a business helps to determine the experience the customers will have with the brand. What perception would the company like to have of their brand? Consider for example if the business would like to be perceived as affordable or luxurious, technical or human, fun or serious.

The colours displayed in images influence the effect they have on the audience. For example, bright and vibrant colours can give the impression of fun, while toned down or cooler tones can provide a more serious feeling. It is useful to include guidelines for how brand colours can be used within images in the brand guidelines.

The styling of employees or other people within photos is another way to signal brand identity to an audience. This could include the clothing they are wearing, their facial expressions, and body language. Should the photos portray a casual look with everyday clothing, or a professional look with business attire? This is a great aspect to clarify in the brand guidelines.

2. Categories

Separating images into different categories is a great way to organize your guidelines. This can help when giving professional photographers instructions on taking photos, or when employees are looking for stock photos to use. Showing examples of each category will showcase how to apply the guidelines. Some of the common categories could include:

      • Photos
      • People
      • Products/Items
      • Landscapes
      • Architecture
      • Web Application
      • Print Application
      • Illustrations
      • Graphic designs
      • Animated
      • Infographics

3. Sizing and Viewing

Final sizing and the view distance are important aspects when choosing images. What guidelines would the company like for the sizing of the images, and what guidelines would they like for the different views of an image? For example, it is good to have guidelines for the size of images for mobile applications vs. web view. The sizing guidelines could also include how much images can be cropped, if there should be a specific or minimum amount of free space around the focal point of the image, and the positioning of the focal point. As for viewing distance, if the image will be viewed at a small size, or shows the view from a long distance such as on a billboard, then the subjects or items within the image should be very clear and not have many details.

4. Copy

Copy refers to the words, text, or other content that is added on an image. If this method is used within the business’s images, such as adding a header over the image with or a button that can be clicked, it is important to explain the guidelines for applying copy. This could include not applying the copy over the focal point of an image, such as a person’s face. The guidelines could also explain the contrast that must be present between the background of the image and copy being applied to ensure the text is legible and consistent. Perhaps a certain colour text is used for light colour backgrounds, while another colour is used for dark colour backgrounds, and another colour is used for black & white images.

5. Do’s and Don’ts

Including do’s and don’ts for image use in brand guidelines can be the most valuable for guiding everyone on how to apply the guidelines. This can be included as examples for each section that is described, or as its own section with all the examples together in one place. For example, in HubSpot’s Brand Guidelines they do a great job of including visuals and explanations of the do’s and don’ts for each section in the guidelines.

Brand Consistency with Consistent Image Use

Having different aspects of image use such as the mood and tonality through colour use and people being viewed, different categories of images, sizing, viewing, application of copy, and the do’s and don’ts explained through company brand guidelines is a great way to maintain brand consistency. With that being said, consistency isn’t accomplished overnight or as soon as the guidelines have been developed. Consistency takes devotion and knowledge of the message the business is wanting to portray to their customers, before being displayed time and time again. With that being said, the best time to start working towards consistency is now!

Next in this series on image use for businesses, Part 3 explains copyright and legal rights.

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