One of the overarching missions of a marketer is to achieve brand recognition for their business. Consistency of messaging across all facets of the brand manifestation – visual, textual, conceptual, social – are at the core of this pursuit. In fact, consistent brand presentation is estimated to grow revenue by an impressive 33%.
As a product photography studio in the US with a decade of shooting commercial images we know exactly how to achieve product photography consistency for ecommerce. Without further ado, let’s get down to the atom-level nuance, that helps your company mold, grow, promote and sustain the recognizable one-of-a-kind visual brand identity.
The tone of voice on its own is a multifaceted entity with tonnes of books devoted to the subject of how to keep it consistent. Many of the schools of marketing would actually include the visual component into the TOV – so all-encompassing the notion is in marketing. We will split it for the purpose of this exercise and refrain from using it as an umbrella term.
When a brand chooses their TOV for textual communication across all channels – it has to be a thoroughly planned choice made in accord with the User persona, era, industry, GEO, and a gazillion other factors.
If you choose a highly formal, almost fine-print scattered legal type communication as your brand strategy, there are no "Hi, guys" or "What's up" or as much as "Looking forward to the weekend?" type of communication. Only dry, matter-of-fact, conservative, courtroom-like, official messaging.
Not only do you have to stick to the chosen style [playful/formal/engaging/friendly / expert / sophisticated / laid-back], you also have to keep it across all media: website, social media, chatbots, marketplaces, cold call scripts, offline ads, etc.
OK, say you talk like a Harvard graduate, but then you start experimenting with your portfolio and product, in the quest to enrich and grow your base.
Imagine you are in the men’s leather bag ecommerce business. You go out of your way to educate your clients about all things business. Your website blog is full of articles on how to project the right image in the office environment, the latest trends in office culture, Wall street news, etc. Your product line is high-quality leather bags hand-made from Italian leather with silk lining in the $500+ price range. And then you decide to diversify and buy a “hello kitty” design to be embossed on those bags.
See? It doesn’t work.
Consistency stretches out across many differential points, inclusive of the portfolio, products, and even business model. You can't jump from one idea to another without destroying what you have built company-recognition-wise.
There are some businesses, who care about the environment [LVMH]. Some contribute to fighting hunger [Microsoft]. Some siphon billions towards finding the cure for diseases [Facebook]. Pick your fight and stick to it, become the pioneer of the chosen social responsibility branch you have picked. Some businesses are not about social responsibility – and this is also OK, as long as they are clear and consistent about it.
Diner en Blanc – is an amazing celebration of hedonism, parties, face-to-face communication, a sense of joy, love for food and wine. And this is great. They preach the religion of loving yourself and creating moments of joy and celebration. The company brings so many beautiful moments into the lives of hundreds of thousands the world over. And they are doing an amazing job carrying the message of self-love, celebrations, and hedonism. Once you choose your social responsibility path, stick to it and contribute to it – offline, online, physically, and financially.
Last but should have been first – visual consistency.
Yes, the pictures speak a thousand words and your product images, company news photos, commercial graphics, website design, social media visuals should all align. One of the most powerful – and cheap – ways to create a brand image in your customer’s eye is visual content. Images and graphics. Let’s get a better glimpse of the elements of visual consistency now.
We as humans hold a gazillion-files-rich repository of people, brands, events in our brains & souls. We have factual knowledge about them as well as connotational.
The factual knowledge about products lies along the lines of [Wolkswagen]:
You get the logic. The connotational knowledge about a brand resides in the emotional and sentimental part of the brain – AKA heart or soul. This is the most important part of the brand knowledge in the customer’s perception. As it answers the questions:
Do I want to buy this and just how badly? Will I give up eating out for a month to save for it? Am I prepared to drive 100 miles just to try it on? [True story, BTW, that’s how badly I wanted Diesel jeans sneakers] Do they have my client loyalty for life and my LTV is as long as I live?
Visuals are majorly responsible for molding that connotational knowledge about a company. Graphics, Videos, Logo, font choice, colors, models, and certainly, product photography. Ecommerce brand consistency comes through in so many ways, but let’s focus on how it exhibits itself in product photos.
How can you keep your product images consistent so that to create a more powerful connection of neurons in the brain of a client, that automatically associates an image with the brand?
Colors are a science of their own. According to the University of Loyola, color increases brand recognition by 80%! This is why a brand logo hue can take days to agree upon. Once you choose them, sticking to them in all corporate communication – be it for marketing purposes or internal corporate communication is a religion. When it comes to the art of product images, we all would know Tiffani's or Mary Kay even if the brand was not there. Colors may appear in backgrounds, textures, props used along with the products themselves in images.
As obvious as it may sound, use models that look like your perfect User persona. With body positivity and diversity being the new norm now, the choice is limited to 7.5 billion people. The trick is to keep it consistent, even if your consistency of choice is diversity.
Water drops on dark plexiglass. Rusted metal. Seasoned wood board. Creased paper. Flowing silk. A bed of rose petals. Microchips. Broken glass. Newspaper cutouts.
Wherever your imagination takes you, as long as the background of your choice is aligned with the core commercial marketing metrics, using the same series of backgrounds may contribute to your company’s visual consistency.
It may seem like an off idea, but you can actually successfully incorporate some object as part of your brand identity.
March 11, a fashion brand of embroidered dresses, used a palm leaf extensively ever since their foundation – in product photography as well as part of their Instagram feed and web design. It symbolizes beach and summer – the perfect season and occasion for March 11 luxury dresses.
Similarly, filters and post-editing effects may also contribute to the style of your visual branding. There are so many filters to choose from and different blurring techniques in photoshop to experiment with. But the trick is to use them all the time, once chosen – so that users start associating them with your product.
One infallible way to ensure your imagery across all channels is aligned with how your company wants to be perceived by its clients is simply to use the same photo studio.
In the case of Squareshot, we save lighting set ups for each order we shoot. If you were to photograph two different collections with a year in between them, we'd be able to align their framing and lighting. In addition, using the same studio can benefit you in terms of matching the post-production processes, as photographers and studios follow their own routines.
Talking about presets – when you work on post-editing, it’s possible to save the edits made on one product image and apply them to the rest of the images in a series.
In the grand scheme of things, if you happen to switch the product photography studio, ensure you provide them with the old photos so they can do their best to provide the output along those lines.
Consistency in product photos is a subject whose importance is obvious to a professional marketer, branding expert, photographer. Nonetheless, it’s not so much acknowledged by the business owner.
Consumers need confidence when buying your product. They don’t like to be betrayed. When you change your storytelling line – be it visually, textually, or conceptually – you automatically betray their knowledge and feeling about your brand, making them need to readjust or even review their feelings towards your product.