Leveraging the Power of Images for your Personal Brand as well as your Business

We live in a world that is more imaged based than ever before – when looking for a job, a resume is no longer sufficient; employers are using sites such as LinkedIn to learn more about who it is that is applying, and the first thing they see is the profile picture of the candidate. Similarly, company web and social media pages are using imagery to convey a message/provide an impression that is often harder to convey using words.

There’s a good reason for this – our brains process images in under 15 milliseconds, which is over 25 times faster than the eye can blink, and certainly faster than you can read even a single word. When we look at an image, we immediately develop an impression/feeling/sense from the image – sometimes this is conscious, but very often the impression is subconscious and we’re not necessarily aware of the impact the image has on our thinking about what we’re seeing. As a marketeer or a person who wants to enhance their own personal brand, it’s important to think about what message(s) you want the image(s) to convey to provide a lasting and impactful profession. Here are some suggestions to help you craft images that create the impression you’re looking for:

1)      Have the images be of high quality – while there are many images being created by cell phones they can’t match the capabilities of a real camera in hands of someone with the right equipment and experience. Besides the number of megapixels, lighting, what’s in focus/out of focus, background, etc.. all play into what constitutes a high-quality image. Each of these elements plays an important role in the impression you’re looking to create.

2)      Use images created specifically for the purpose in mind – if you’re a job seeker or building a personal brand for business purposes, using a picture of you at the beach or leaning up against a tree likely isn’t the right imagery. If you’re a business, going with stock photography for key elements of your imagery vs. showing real people in the real environment of your company (or your customers) creates more of a realistic, trustworthy impression (while the stock image industry is HUGE, and they are absolutely useful in many situations, there is no substitution for the real thing).

3)      The images should be created and utilized in the context of a larger campaign/branding/messaging vs. “just because” - showing a picture of the old car you’re restoring on your company website when you’re selling services isn’t relevant (unless you’re selling car restoration service). Each image plays a role in the messaging/impression and should be carefully created and/or chosen. Showing employees, your offices/environment, the results of your work (if appropriate) all can help support the impression you’re trying to create.

4)      Lighting, colors, camera angle, size of the subject in the frame, overall look, etc. all matter – in addition to the quality of the image, these elements all combine to help create the mood/messaging/impression. If you’re promoting yourself as a young children’s author, having a dramatic headshot as your profile picture is inconsistent with (and indeed pulls in the opposite direction of) what you’d like to convey about yourself.

5)      The imagery should support the word-based content of whatever media/platform/collateral it’s being used in – the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” should be taken very literally. If you’re using imagery, think of it as a very long paragraph (or paragraphs) – it should be consistent with (and supportive to) the word-based (or graphic based) content surrounding it.

Using imagery is a powerful tool that helps to create the impression of you or your company’s brand to the viewer in an instant – utilize this tool wisely and with careful thought in order to achieve the best results.