How to Get Fantastic Professional Photos for Your Marketing

Wait, I know. You’re already thinking…well, this article isn’t for me! I don’t have the money to hire a photographer. You’d be surprised. Most photographers are happy to work within your (reasonable) budget and professional photos of your stores, products and people significantly increase the wow factor of any marketing piece.

The trick is to communicate effectively with your photographer. They want the photos to be great too. Here are a few tips to getting exactly what you need:

  1. Look at the Photographer’s Portfolio: This seems basic but is key. Every photographer has a different style of shooting and finishing the photos. Make sure you choose the photographer best suited to your vision of the final product (side note: liking your photographer’s personality is really important too, as is feeling like they “get” what you want)
  2. Ask your Photographer What You’ll Get: Make sure you know how many finished photos you’ll actually receive in the end and approximately how many proofs you’ll have to choose the final number from. You probably won’t need printed photos for marketing material — just finished photos on a disc. You should also know how much additional photos will cost. Let’s say you get 25 digital photos in your package but you love 30 — you will be able to buy those additional 5 but should know how much each will cost before you fall in love (after all, love can be fickle)
  3. Figure Out How You’ll Use the Images: Are these only for a website? They could be used for many, many things: packaging, bus ads, print ads, brochures, social media, online directories, and the list goes on. Will some of the photos be head shots? It’s better to think of too many uses now than to realize you don’t have a photo appropriate for use X because you hadn’t thought of it
  4. Write a Shot List: Sounds professional, doesn’t it? You are a professional! Knowing how many finished images you’ll get, plan out how many of each photo you’ll want…5 head shots, 2 building shots, 5 overall product shots, 5 product detail shots, 4 of people making the product, etc. This is not to say that the photographer will only take 5 head shots and 2 building shots. They will probably take several hundred snaps to get your short list of finished images
  5. Be Prepared for the Shoot: You’ll have an hour or two with your photographer, so make the most of it. Be prepared. Have the “head shot” people ready to go with their hair done and clothes looking nice. Clean up the garden in front of the building. Have the products you want shot out, shined up, and ready to go. Remember, fingerprints show in photographs. Your photographer will have ideas too and you’ll probably need to go grab things you didn’t anticipate but if all the basics are ready, you’ll be golden.

Most of all? Have fun! Happy energy makes for happy photos. These images will represent your brand, company, and products for the next while and a little planning will make them great.

Looking for a photographer? Let me know; I know a few I can refer you to. Do you have any tips for getting great business photos? Please let me know in the comments!

 

 

How Often Should You Change Your Brand?

I come across this a lot. We all want new, fresh starts. We all like pretty, slick, sophisticated, attractive marketing material. That does not mean, however, that we need to throw the baby away with the bathwater.

Sorry to disappoint.

Now, I’m writing this article from the perspective that you took some time when you first branded your company to think/dream/meditate on its personality and how you wanted it presented to the world. If you have not gone through this process yet, this article isn’t for you. Please feel free to go forth and brand.

If, however, you have a logo, colours, personality, and style for your company but feel that it’s stale, I’m talking to you.

Believe it or not, consumers don’t only relate to your outstanding customer service, your magical product, or your dedication to staying abreast in your field. These things are great. They’re the backbone of your company, don’t get me wrong. However, when people are wracking their brains, trying to think of someone to help them, they’ll just as often remember you by the colour of your business card, the event they saw you at, or the brochure they have stuck in the back of their drawer (the one they see every time they look for a pen). Branding works because humans use shortcuts to filing away and retrieving information in our brains.

So, if you have spent time associating yourself with one brand and then suddenly switch to something completely different, you will — in essence — need to reprogram every one of their brains to remember your company in association with different items. Why re-do all that work? I will even take it one step further and claim that your customer may not feel the same level of comfort with your business if it suddenly changes identities. It will be unconscious. They will not feel the same attachment and their brain may associate that with a break in loyalty. They will be “on the market” for a new whatever-you-do.

Does this mean you’re stuck with a 1980’s logo? Heck no! I recommend working with a graphic designer who is on-board with a re-stylization of your visual brand, rather than a complete overhall.

Don’t believe it can be done? Here are some companies who’ve done it (and you probably didn’t even realize it!)

Crayola

For the most part, their colors have remained the same. The green stripes on the yellow box has been around almost as long as crayons. Crayola has always made their re-stylized wordmark logo the most important piece of the text. Even in the most modern, slick packaging, these elements remain unchanged. Thanks to sandboxworld.com for the photo!

Coke & Pepsi

Their look has definitely changed but this is a great example how a step-by-step re-stylization can work in your favour, keeping your brand fresh over many generations of consumers. Note how holding the colours steady seems to be key in making major changes successfully. Thanks to underconsideration.com for the image. (Click the image to view a larger version)

See? You too can evolve your brand rather than inflicting shock and awe (and confusion) on your clients. I know that graphic artists exist who are willing (and would even prefer) to work with your existing brand. A great artist knows how emotions, thoughts, and feelings can be enmeshed in a visual object.

If you decide to refresh your brand, I’d love to see the results! Please comment below or send me an email.

6 Tips to Developing an Environmentally “Light” Product

As entrepreneurs, we often have several “next ideas” in mind just waiting for the right moment to pull it them out. Some of these are services, of course, but just as often they are products – often to fill gaps we’ve seen while working with clients. Some “thing” that is missing in the marketplace.

Depending on the product, development can take weeks, months or even years before it’s ready for the public. Trying to balance the cost of R&D with delivering a good quality, easy to use product that perfectly meets the market’s need is difficult. Now more than ever, there is another thing to consider – how will your product fit into an ever-increasingly sustainability-concerned marketplace? Even if you aren’t offering an environmentally-related product, consumers are looking for products that help them live a little lighter on the earth.

Here are some things to consider when you’re planning your next product:

  1. Is it multi-use? Consumers are looking for products that can be used multiple times or have an extended life. Consider rechargeable energy options or a more durable version.
  2. Can it be multi-functional? Often we think of products as being one thing when it can be used for many different functions. For example, roofs have traditionally a covering on the top of the house to keep the rain and snow out of our stuff. Today, roofs are used to create energy to run the household, they deflect heat, offer a gardening surface, protect the house from the elements, collect rain, and are a beautiful architectural design feature. Take some time to think about how your new product could be tweaked to be used in several different ways.
  3. Can it be packaged in an eco-friendly way? Those hard plastic shells protecting the batteries have got to go. They’re impossible to get into – not at all fun when your mouse just died and you have the rest of the sentence waiting in your head – and there is nothing green about them. I won’t even start about the fact that they’re protecting mercury-filled batteries. Please don’t wrap your product in a battery-like packaging. There are lots of other options, from recycled cardboard to compostable bags.
  4. Can the product’s components be sourced in a green manner? That is, can they be found locally? Can you choose a low-emissions plant to manufacture them? Is there an organic or fair trade option? Yes, this can kick up the price of the product. However, take a look at your options. Your green product may be worth a little more to a customer. They may be willing to pick up the difference in cost – or more people may be interested so you can cover the cost in volume.
  5. Take a look at your supply and delivery chain. Are there ways you can reduce the delivery carbon footprint? If you decide to deliver to Europe, for instance, consider renting space at a European distribution center. You only need to ship larger quantities to Europe periodically to refill supplies at the center. They ship your European orders to local customers, reducing the number of times per month you’re shipping your product to a far away location.
  6. Consider an end-of-life program. Do we ever know what to do with products we can’t drop off at a thrift store? I am always happy when a company tells me how to fix, dispose of or recycle their product once it’s finished. For instance, I love the little postage paid envelope I get with my Dell ink jet cartridge refill. I always pop in my old cartridge and mail it off, so happy it’s not sitting in my garbage (eating away at my conscience).

You may not be able to tick off all these boxes, but by planning ahead a little, you may be able to offer a more “Green” product than you thought. Lastly, make sure you talk about how your product eases the customer’s footprint in your marketing! You’ve spent the time, effort, and maybe cash improving the product – flaunt it.