Branding with feel: Photo styling and typography

Image styling for Tribe Salons by Ditto Creative - brand stylists and creating branding agency in Kent

If there's one element of our branding presentations that is guaranteed to get our clients a bit emotional, it's our image styling. Image styling is where we take a carefully selected photo and add a logo, a strapline or a message, pulling together a number of brand elements into one rich visual piece for sit-up-and-listen impact. Get it right, and photo styling can be utterly breathtaking...

Image styling is incredibly useful when you're creating graphics for social media or images for your website, brochures and marketing material. You just have to knw how to go about it.

Step 1/ Know your season personality

Using colour psychology, we are quickly able to determine the right visual style that best reflects the brand we're working on. Youthful, fun and bubbly businesses are Spring (light, bright pastel shades, plenty of energy and expression, clean pure light), elegant, romantic and nurturing businesses are Summer (delicate muted colours, gentle and soft light, flowing shapes), passionate and rebellious businesses are Autumn (warm, rich tones, lots of natural texture, plenty of substance and a real earthy, vintage feel) and businesses which lead the pack with their decisive, expert and driven mentality are Winter (cool, clear shades, geometric shapes, plenty of structure and symmetry). Believe me when I say that colour psychology changes EVERYTHING and makes every single design decision about your business miles easier. Read more about colour psychology here.

Image styling for Allens of Battersea by Ditto Creative - brand stylists and creating branding agency in Kent

Step 2/ Image style

It'll be no suprise to you that I absolutely loathe the traditional stock photography. Men in suits shaking hands? Overtly posed, clinical images where everyone wears a false smile, eyes fixed on the camera? Bleurgh, bleurgh, bleurgh. No thanks.

In an ideal world, our client will have comissioned a photo shoot where we have the benefit of directing the image style and producing a carefully shot range of on-brand images which they own the exclusive rights to. When this isn't possible, we'll use stock photography - but we like to head off the beaten track and turn to sites such as Unsplash for beautiful, artfully shot images. If I know that my client is Spring I'll be looking for bright images with a sense of fun and energy - whereas if I'm looking for an Autumn client I might look for something that feels a bit more gritty.

Image styling for Big Alp productions by Ditto Creative - brand stylists and creating branding agency in Kent

Step 3/ Message

How do you want your audience to feel about your brand? What do you want them to think? The words we choose depend very much on the brand message and intention. We might use a quote or testimonial - perhaps a strapline that we've written. I love to use words which don't feel too contrived; it's more engaging that way. And whatever you do, keep your message short! It's hard to have impact when you want to squeeze an essay onto a photo.

Image styling for Daphne Henning by Ditto Creative - brand stylists and creating branding agency in Kent

Step 4/ Typography

Your typography absolutely HAS to be on point. Often we'll use a combination of two brand accent fonts which reinforce the feel of the brand, and are usually more visually interesting than your everyday headline fonts that you might use on a letterhead or business card. It's best to use decorative fonts minimally as they have more impact and are easier to read that way. The example below for Hayne House shows this off perfectly.

Image styling for Hayne House wedding venue by Ditto Creative - brand stylists and creating branding agency in Kent

Step 5/ Layout

Weave your words around your image. Words should always be carefully placed on your image, not plonked just anywhere. Pay attention to copy space (that is, an 'empty' area where the text can comfortably sit without obstructing the focal point of the image), and make sure that the space in which you place your text is clear enough for the message to be legible.