People – ya gotta love ’em!

If your brand is your reputation (and it is), then it’s important to keep it on track. Everything that you do and say will reflect on that brand. How you say it is one of the toughest tasks when trying to keep your brand image compelling over all media.

I regularly drop into blogs and business consultant’s websites to check out some tip or suggestion that I may find of use. I can’t tell you how many times, I’m confronted with a brand image that absolutely contradicts the message they’re sending. As consultants, they are by nature a people business. Their job is to help people with problems and situations in their area of expertise. What sort of message are they sending if their sites and blogs are totally void of humanity. Not a single shot of a person. I want any consultant I hire to like people.

Businesses in the manufacturing sector are also guilty of this error. Lots of shots of real estate but nothing of people actually working the shop floor. One , that made me chuckle said that it was “their people that made the difference”. Guess what was missing in their literature?

The restaurant and hotel industry are great for this – lots of shots of expansive dining rooms, luxurious guest rooms and health clubs with no “body” in any one of them. As people, we all love to look at other people. We are a social species by nature. How you position people emotes a certain attitude. Diversity among the people we use, sends a powerful message. We go where the people are. Have you ever noticed that people are more apt to check out a new restaurant or store if there are people there when they get there. Nothing is more alluring than a parking lot full of cars at a store opening. There is nothing inspiring about a health club with no sweating bodies in sight. Humanity inspires us.

In the use of people shots, one simple tip in setting up the shot is an old design rule. Never have the model looking outside of your frame. It sends the eye away from your message. They should be looking in – our eyes follow their eyes. One that I employ is cropping. In a head and shoulders shot, cropping off the top of the head sends the readers eyes downward into the eyes of the model. When ever I use pictures of people I am always careful when choosing their use. I want the message to be consistent across the board and their use must compliment my brand. Even my own picture sends messages. One shot I particularly like is to a peer of mine – not friendly enough. “You are much friendlier than that picture suggests”‘ she often tells me. When we got together, she shot one that was more appropriate in her mind. It is the one most often seen of me out there.

Use people (images) to your advantage. Have them in your corporate colors. Be sure that they are of the correct demographic. Don’t have a genX ‘er in your materials if they are not your target audience. The wrong shot can alienate as powerfully as the perfect shot. Overall, remember that when choosing people shots for your brand, they must conform to your brand message. Don’t sacrifice this important point on the alter of creativity. Your brand communicates a specific message to its audience who are willing receptacles.

Say Cheese!


  1. Ed,

    A fine post – as usual 🙂

    Yes – having people ‘branded’ with your company identity is a great way to luring people to your biz!

    I’ve been thinking about it for weeks, weighing my options – but after reading your article, I decided to hire some people to be shot in my small biz identity – THAT will kick the competition in the a*s 😛

    Cheers Ed!

  2. Yep – good one. It’s only people that make a business what it is and people that purchase. In fact, it’s all about people 🙂

  3. Thanks Ed for another great post.

    Yes it’s true that your picture is so important, and I can see what your friend means about you. When we met in Ontario, I could easily see how friendly you are in person. Your author picture here really does reflect that. As for myself, I do know that I need a new shot here, it’s on my list of things to do for this site.

    As you know also the one thing I spend way too much time on is choosing pictures here on the site. But the reason I do is because I want it to reflect the best possible vision I have on the article and that just adds to the brand here at SBB.

    Also, I remember in my store, we always put some hot products out front because when people stop, others will stop to see what they’re looking at. Having lots of people hanging out at the front of the store brings others in.

  4. Bam! You got me!

    I’ve actually been meaning to put some pictures like you recommend on my site, including of myself (just kind find pictures that I like so I’ve been procrastinating taking some new ones).

    I LOVE the tip about where the people’s eyes are looking, that is pure gold!

  5. It’s just simple psychology really. I know we all say that sex sells, but in reality it’s people that sell. It’s one of the reasons why reality shows are such a hit. We are interested and attracted to our own species – train wrecks and all.

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