What is a Visual Brand Story and why your business needs one

Posted on Nov 5, 2019
What is a Visual Brand Story and why your business needs one

Some might argue that the difference between a business and a brand is profitability. How so? Yes, a business can–and should be–profitable to survive, but when you have a brand, one that has a devoted set of fans that care about your values and what you offer is also like having a massive word-of-mouth marketing team out in the wild.

So, how do you go from “just a business” to “brand”?

It may feel daunting at first, and there’s nobody I trust better to help you figure out that roadmap than our friend J. Nichole Smith, but to give you a quick road map:

  1. Figure out your “why”— why do you do what you do? Why is it important? What do you care about doing this? Answering these questions can lead you to what we’ll call your “brand pillars”, and that’s a good thing because…
  2. Your Brand Pillars = your branded content. Ever struggled with what to blog about, what to share on Instagram or Facebook? What to email your subscribers? Yeah, us too. The easiest and most effective thing you can do is to talk about what you care about. Figuring out your brand pillars will give you a stream of ideas for content creation.
  3. Tie it all together visually. Contrary to what you may think, it doesn’t start with a kick-ass logo. A polished brand is more than a little graphic that magically expresses everything you are about. No, it’s so much more than that. A great logo helps, absolutely, but beyond that, visual branding can and should come from various sources, all used consistently. This includes the color palette you use across your website and marketing materials as well as the overall tonality of the content you share, the mood of the photos you post, the fonts and wording you use.

Enter the Visual Brand Story

When clients come to us regarding content creation, one of the very first things I recommend is investing in a Brand Story shoot. Everything is visual these days. Social media giants like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook drive traffic through imagery. Statistically, email newsletters that include yummy images perform better and have increased click rates. Love enters through the eyes and if you can catch someone’s attention and inspire desire through an image, you have a better chance at nurturing that “love” into a long-term relationship.

What is it and how can it help my brand?

Brand Story shoots (the way we work them) are a library of images that tell the story of what you do, how you do it and why. It is basically visual storytelling, the story in this case is about you and your business as well as its values and pillars–your brand. These images can and should be used across your marketing, from your LinkedIn profile, to your newsletters, website, and peppered across your social media. Audiences long and are now demanding for brands with a human connection. If I am going to buy something from you, I want to know where it came from and how it makes a difference in my life and whether it has a higher impact. More and more, brands with a soul and a clear WHY are the ones that find that longevity and profitability.

Key images to have in your Brand Story

We like to keep our Brand Story shoots organic and as candid as possible, because in a world where the word “authentic” is everything but that, true authenticity and relatability is our top goal here. However, there are a few key images we aim to have in order to telly our story appropriately. I included some example images below from a Brand Story shoot we did recently for DQ of Go, Cat Go! A cat behavior specialist.

  1. Portrait or headshot of you and/or your team. Whether you are a solopreneur or you have a team of 2 or 20, audiences want to see your face. We need someone to connect to and a good portrait is a killer asset for use across all your marketing.
  2. Who/what/where/why. We want to see and experience what inspired you to create your business and brand, we want to be touched and inspired by it too. Whatever it is, images of you/your team with the who/what/where/why are essential, and they make great content for your “about” section as well as general content.
  3. Doing what you do best. Dog trainers training, makers making, writers writing, cat behaviorists working magic with cats… We want to see and show you doing what you do. Again, human connection.
  4. Your product/service in use. Whether it is a beautifully hand-made leather collar on a gorgeous dog, or if its a line of apparel on a mission, or it is a skill you taught a client, these images are an invaluable asset to your content library and they are evergreen, which means you can use them any time, all-year long across all the things.
  5. Details. They say the devil is in the details, but we call it the magic. Details are like frosting. Most people never think of them until they find they need a little something to fill some space or talk about a certain topic, or just need a pretty photo to make a newsletter not feel boring. Detail shots are delightful and can be sprinkled throughout any need you may come across, from a nice background image to an Instagram story, and everywhere in between.

A portrait/headshot of you is of utmost importance. It humanizes your brand. Headshots don’t have to be cheesy, arms-crossed in front of a blue backdrop (ew!), in fact, they should be somewhere you feel comfortable and somewhere that helps represent your brand style.

No, you don’t have to always look at the camera for head shots. We love candid portraits and they feel more relatable.

For DQ, his why is his genuine love, understanding and compassion for cats.

Doing what you do best: DQ is a master at his craft. Give him some quiet, uninterrupted time with a cat and he will undoubtedly make a connection. We really wanted to show that here.

Another example of doing what you do best. Nothing forces you to go with the flow and stay candid than working with cats. Here, DQ’s true mastery shows beautifully. The black cat, front and center is actually quite shy, but with everyone’s calm presence and DQ’s expertise, we were able to catch a true candid moment.

Your product/service in use: DQ’s brand, Go Cat Go! has a strong color palette of black and red with some lighter supportive color. This lends itself well in these images, where a more quiet and intimate mood is presented. His brand is all about a bridge of communication between cats and their humans. We love the “V” shape that takes place here to represent that, with DQ smiling down at the cat, who is looking up at her person, who is looking back at her cat with a gentle smile. Connection!

Details! The magic is in them. One of the main issues DQ gets called in for, is to help figure out litterbox avoidance problems. His toolkit includes a blacklight, to figure out hidden spots a cat may be returning to that human eyes can’t see. How do you make “looking for cat pee on the wall” look cool? You use composition, suggestion and mood.

Another example of a detail shot. While DQ and his feline model were spending some quality time together, we took some frames especially dedicated to that connection. DQ’s tattoos are amazing and such a big part of his personality. He wears his “why” on his skin.

By the way, if you need help better understanding and communicating with your cat or if you have specific behavior problems with your kitties that you’d love some help with, DQ’s got your back. Check him out on social or contact him directly on his website.

I want my Brand Story told!

Yay! That’s great news. We’d love to help you tell your story, and we are not limited by location, either! Get in touch and let’s chat about your brand. This is our jam, after all.

Let’s connect