With the massive spread of stock photography websites, many businesses seem to have gotten lazy. They have started using ready-made photographs for almost everything, especially websites and print campaigns. Even though a professional photo session is not a cheap treat, it is a must if you’re aiming high. Stiff faces, static postures, fake smiles, hands shakes….stock photography is just not doing your brand a favour. Truth is, this trendy
stock style has already gone from professional – looking to banal and overexploited…and what is more important – boring and totally useless. How many business websites have you seen that do not have a photo of two businessmen handshaking?
Building a strong brand is a strategic act and it’s easily achievable if you’re consistent and try to keep it real. With the popularization of the world wide web in the 80s, brands have been facing a new challenge – all information can be checked on the internet. And if it’s different from what you claim to be, your audence will be gone in 60 seconds. So it’s all about keeping it real, about being sincere with your target, about putting it out there
/Remember the extremely successful Avis campaign “We’re second, that is why we try harder”/
With the vast amount of images that literally bomb the customer today, he has learned how to filter those images and ignore the ones that he has already seen or that look..well…ordinary. This is the reason why many top brands use dedicated photographers for their campaigns. The real power of these “custom” photographs is not due to hiring a top model or flying to Bora Bora to take the shot. It’s about keeping the people in the photo real, vivid, full of energy, present. The only way a customers can identify themselves with the people in the picture and therefore become loyal to the brand is that the people in the picture look real and alive. Customers need to feel that there’s always a story behind that picture. A story they want to know and tell. The thing that makes those custom photos “emotionizers” is that they have attitude. The brand message is clear
and is evoking a feeling, an emotion in the viewer. If you want your brand to be a strong one, you’ve gotta make a statement. And unfortunately stock photos do not make one.
We have selected the top of mind examples of brands that have successfully managed to build loyalty by using custom imagery and have risen from brands to culture icons.
United Colors of Benetton
Benetton’s one of the most consistent brands out there…and still one of the most colorful ones. Founded in 1965 in Italy, the brand has always pleaded for racial, religous, age tolerance in a bold and sometimes surprising way. Benettton’s imagery has been a trademark of the company with its specific focus and concept.
Bushmills Brothers Campaign
One of the best campaigns we’ve seen in a long time – a true inspiration. The project includes talented British photographer Platon and real friends instead of models. The power of the black&white campain lays not only in the amazing photographs but in the stories of real people behind them.
Dove “Real Beauty” campaign
Launched in 2004, the principle behind the campaign is to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves. The launch campaign featured women of different shapes and sizes recruited in a number of ways; one was approached in the street, another answered an ad which was placed in a local South London newspaper.
Abercrombie & Fitch
A&F is known for its racy marketing photography by Bruce Weber. It is rendered to grayscale and features outdoor settings, usually with semi-nude males and females. An interesting fact is that A&F casts only store employees for marketing campaigns.
Famous for its annual calendar, Lavazza has become one of the brands with conceptual imagery. The photos below have been taken for the 2009 calendar by Annie Leibovitz.
Wonderful imagery featuring George Clooney. Martini images are vivid, stylish and so cheerful you wish you had a pool around. The latest campaign of Martini is called “Luck is an attitude” strengthens the brand statement: “It is the charismatic drink of the truly stylish who know it as……the world’s most beautiful drink.”
One of Benetton’s sub-brands Sisley goes bold, really bold. Photographer Terry Richardson has helped elevating the brand into a cult.