5 ways to capture your company’s brand with headshots
I’ve seen my share of corporate photo spreads in my 25 years as a corporate communicator and as a professional photographer, and I can always tell when an organization has taken the time to think about their corporate brand in their leadership headshots. Creating and maintaining a consistent brand plays a critical role in the success or failure of any organization’s brand strategy. But it’s not just about brand colors and logo. A key element of a company’s brand is portraying a consistent and intentional persona in the leadership’s headshots. After all, they are the company.
Here are a couple of examples of companies we have helped capture their brand through consistent professional portraits.
When I see spreads that do not have a consistent brand look, I cringe. It’s distracting and unprofessional. More important is the professional brand persona that the individuals are conveying in their headshot or LinkedIn profile picture. When it comes to personal and professional brand, it’s the photographer’s job to bring out the brand attributes for each individual, and to do so in a way that is congruent with the company’s brand. I had the privilege of photographing the Convey team several months ago for their LinkedIn profile pictures and their website.
They completely understood the importance of a congruent brand—congruence in all things: style, expression, wardrobe, location and photographic quality. You can see from their leadership page that they wanted an approachable, professional and friendly persona. They wanted their clients to feel like, “I want to do business with that person.” To the left is a sample of the final images they used both on LinkedIn and their website for their senior team and below a sampling of the images we captured of their sales team.
Contrast this with a few of their before pictures (at the bottom of this post) which they kindly gave me permission to show. These images do not in any way portray their brand: approachable, professional, trustworthy.
Here are the five things we did to create a congruent and consistent brand for Convey:
- We used the same background and lighting for each session. They specifically wanted outdoor shots for the leadership team. We used a controlled lighting setup so that we could replicate it. All of these images were actually not shot on the same day due to scheduling conflicts. So it was important to assure them that the “look” could be replicated. You can’t do that using only natural light. You simply can’t control when the sun will shine. I prefer shooting on a simple white or grey background as we did with the sales team.
- The leadership team was going to be displayed on a single page on their website. This made having a consistent look even more important. If your team is not going to be displayed on the same page, you can use a bit more diversity in wardrobe and background. But overall, the look and feel of the images should be similar.
- We intentionally went with a business casual look—again, seeking to convey that persona of friendly and approachable. When choosing wardrobe and style, you don’t want one guy wearing a suit and tie while all the others wear open shirts.
- A consistent pose also creates brand congruence. For example, everyone smiling directly at the camera, or everyone looking contemplative and away from the camera. Either way, it’s about the message you are sending and being consistent in that message.
- We talked specifically about the brand attributes they wanted their customers to see in these images: approachable, professional, trustworthy. We worked with each person to capture those attributes in their expressions and posture.
This focus on consistency doesn’t mean you have to resort to a Stepford Wives-style of monotony, where everyone looks exactly the same. Creating a base level of continuity—of predictability, in a sense—from photo to photo actually creates the opposite effect: it allows the viewer to tune out unnecessary external distractions and zero in on the individual personalities that are then revealed. Those personalities, of course, are the organization, and connecting with them, through the power of engaging and consistent visuals, should be the purpose of the photos in the first place.
Effective professional portraiture conveys your brand messages, for example, professionalism, approachability, competence, trust. Those attributes are your brand, so ensuring they shine through consistently in each individual’s photo is one of your most valuable marketing strategies.
Before images of some of the Convey leadership team: