A picture is worth at least 1,000 words – investing in imagery to support your brand/message

I’ve always been drawn to photography and photographs – growing up, we subscribed to Life Magazine, and I’d eagerly turn the pages, immersed in the great photography they always produced. So what does that have to do with branding, messaging? It turns out a lot.

Studies have shown that when visiting a website, the average attention span is 8 seconds (down from a whopping 12 seconds several years ago!). During that time, you not only need to grab the viewers attention, but convey something that is interesting to them and/or makes them feel comfortable. Companies such as Apple spend a great deal of time and money on not only the look and feel of their website, but also that images of their employees (and customers) reinforce their brand/image. Their uncluttered, clean look if often dominated by pure white backgrounds – and pictures of their executive team reflect this – all white backgrounds, no ties for their male execs, and no jackets (one currently is wearing a sweater with an open collared shirt). Note that their female executives are also wearing tops that have open collars (maybe that’s because they don’t need sweaters in CA – or maybe it’s more deliberate to convey a sense of a team with the men….).

While smaller businesses don’t have the resources of Apple, they still should pay attention to how imagery support their brand. You want to convey success and professionalism, as well as accessibility – images of your exec team and employees should reflect those values and your brand. There should be a consistent look and feel, no matter how simple – and they should look professionally done. Snapshots of employees in bright sunlight that look like snapshots doesn’t necessarily convey this message – it looks and feels less than professional.

If you’re a job candidate with a profile on LinkedIn seeking a professional level job, your profile picture will be the first thing a prospective employer sees when they come across your profile page – and typically that’s their first time they have seen you. The image should not only reflect who you are from a professional perspective, it should also be consistent with the text in your profile, the industry you’re targeting, the types of companies you’re looking to work for, etc.. As an example, suppose you’re a male software developer who likes to work with startups on cutting edge technologies – and those are the markets you’re targeting. Having a profile picture of you in a suit and tie will likely create at best an inconsistent impression with the viewer – at worst, they may only skim your background, having already decided that you’re not a fit for their culture.

Imagery should not be an afterthought for your brand, either personal or corporate. Images create impressions that have a significant impact on the viewer – and is worth at least 1000 words.