Whether it’s for your website, your social media feeds, your Google business listing, or the graphics you load to Pinterest to drive traffic, you probably need photos to tell the brand story of your business.
But easier said than done, right?
Just like writers sit down to a blank page and periodically experience writers’ block, a business owner can hire a brand photographer and suddenly have no inspiration for staging the story they want to tell. Even if you love what you do, and you know how you want your customers to feel once they’ve worked with you, and all the steps you need to take to help them feel that way, when it comes to getting it on camera, all that knowledge goes out the window.
Luckily for you, I’ve got a pretty foolproof framework you can use to be sure the next time you bring in a photographer, you’ll have more than enough for him or her to do!
3 Steps to Tell Your Brand Story in Photos
Step #1: Remember why you started.
In whatever you do for a living, you probably relieve a pain from or add a joy to the lives of your clients. These are the two basic categories of all business models. (The illustration I like to use to differentiate the two is that people go to the chiropractor to relieve a pain in their back, and they go to a masseur because this brings them a sense of luxury or happiness.)
Which kind of business do you have? The answer is important to know in general, but in this case, knowing which model you have will give you a clue into the kind of story you might want to tell in your photos.
If you relieve a pain, you probably want photos that either show people who look like your target customers before and after using your product or service, or simply what they look like after. If you add a joy, you want to show people who look like your target customers in the midst of experiencing your product or service.
Examples of businesses that relieve pain points: Pest control services, weight loss programs, or anti-virus software companies. These businesses would want to show their ideal clients enjoying life without (read: after) the pain of bugs, body shame, or sluggish computers.
Examples of businesses that add joy: Mini-golf parks, cute accessory companies, or hair salons. These businesses want to show their ideal clients (read: in the midst of) laughing and making memories in their park, wearing their sunglasses or purses, and rocking a shiny new hairstyle.
Step #2: Identify your USP (unique selling proposition).
Just because businesses in your industry are typically known for relieving pain or adding joy doesn’t mean yours has to be. In reality, everything we buy relieves some measure of pain from and adds some measure of joy to our lives. When you can get mosquitoes off your property, you no longer have the pain of dealing with mosquitoes, obviously… but you also access the joy of spending time in your own yard again.
The way you position your business is often what actually makes the difference. Positioning usually has to do with what your target customer will care about more–relieving the pain, or accessing the joy.
If you sell coffee, for instance, maybe you’re relieving the pain of being tired and sluggish in the morning, in which case you probably want your brand photos to tell the story that your product offers a quick, delicious pick-me-up your ideal customers can easily grab on the way to work. However, you could also offer artisinal coffee that you position as being an elevated experience, in which case your images might show people integrating coffee into a slower-paced lifestyle while enjoying other of the fewer, finer things.
Step #3: Think really hard about your ideal customer.
The easiest, most obvious way to run a photo session if you’re a product-based business is simply to take photos of your products–meaning, if you sell bread, you take pictures of bread. If you sell toys, you take pictures of toys.
The easiest, most obvious way to run a photo session for a service-based business is to take photos of yourself, or your work equipment, tools, or supplies.
But what’s easy and obvious isn’t always what’s best. When you simply take pictures of your products, you assume that they speak for themselves… but maybe they don’t. Did you know 2% of the human race can’t even conjure up an imagined image in their mind’s eye? You want to make it as easy as possible for your ideal customers to see the usefulness of your product in their lives. Therefore, show your product being used, or what life is like after customers buy it, so that new customers can place themselves into the story you’re trying to create for them.
If you offer a service, showing the kind of people you want to work with working with you can add a big boost in confidence for your ideal customers. When you only show yourself in pictures, you can look like you’re new and don’t have any clients yet! And if you’re going to take pictures of the tools you use to do your work, show them in a context that adds some color and variety. Maybe include an unexpected item in the lineup, with an explanation for why it’s there.
No matter what you decide to do, think above all else about the experience you want your perfect customer to have. If you know who you want to work with and why they’re excited to buy what you sell, telling your brand story will come more easily than you think!
Was this helpful? If so, let me know! Leave a comment below, and then come over and tell me on Instagram, @alexisthegreek. If you know you’ll want to reference this post later, be sure to pin it, as well.