It’s surprising that some Business-to-Business companies don’t do more sophisticated branding like most Business-to-Consumer companies do. Their customers or clients are people who respond emotionally to the same visual cues as a consumer who buy toothpaste. One of the most important things you can do for your brand is to develop a visual language and be consistent in your messaging in both word usage and visual usage. Consistency is kind of like being a parent and having to continually reinforce a message about a curfew for example. If you let your kids do what they want from time to time, it gets harder for them to take you seriously when you want them to be home by midnight. The same goes for your company’s visual language. Unless you define what you are trying to convey and uniformly keep your photography on strategy, your customer or client base won’t take your company as seriously if your image styles are all over the map.
I pulled out an example of visual language that we developed for one of our clients. The client brand strategy revolves around a not so unique platform of “personal service’. What makes this personal service strategy more exclusive is an attitude that says “go ahead and challenge us”. This message is where we started when looking for the right kind of photo that conveys a confident professional.
This is what not to do. The toothpaste smile is what most people think of when looking for a photo that represents personal service. It feels false. People typically do not grin happily when solving challenging problems unless they just came back from happy hour.
This works better. A confident look, with not so huge a smile, more like a Mona Lisa smile. This is someone you can trust and is up to the “Go ahead and challenge us” point of view about personal service. Once you have defined what your visual language is, the next step is to consistently stick to it. Business-to-Business companies are no different than Business-to-Consumer companies when it comes to marketing. The best of class think of themselves as professional service companies and develop their brand just as a toothpaste company would, just not with the same toothy smile.