In today’s world, a picture can be worth a lot more than a thousand words.
Marketing once harnessed the power of images by putting a corporate logo on everything from letterhead and websites to race cars and professional golfers’ shirts. Logos were sacrosanct, with 100-page manuals spelling out rules for their proper use. The idea was to control the brand image by controlling where and how the logo – the most identifiable visual representation of the brand — was shared.
A strong logo is still a valuable asset, and it definitely plays a part in building a brand. But thanks to ubiquitous smartphone cameras and the ability to easily share photos via social networks, there are more compelling ways to put images to work in building a brand. Facebook Timeline (with its improved use of photos and graphics), Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr and Instagram provide tremendous opportunities for creating and sharing the visual story of your brand.
Instagram is my personal favorite, largely because of the filters that transform my less-than-average photos into something much more interesting. I also love the challenge of capturing a single image that can convey the essence of the moment. I’m glad to have a dozen pictures of my kids in their Easter Sunday best, but it’s the image of my daughter’s dye-stained fingers holding her freshly colored eggs that really says it all.
That’s one of the hidden benefits of incorporating visual storytelling into your brand marketing. Not only do you harness the emotional power of photos, but you also gain clarity about your brand attributes and what sets you apart.
So if you haven’t put the power of a picture to use for your brand yet, start there. Think about how you can capture your story in images. Check out how other brands are wading into the Pinterest and Instagram pools. Your customers are probably already there, and can help you tell your story. That’s definitely worth more than a thousand words.
Update: Facebook has acquired Instagram for about $1 billion. Check out Peter Shankman’s take on the acquisition and what it says about the value of turning followers and fans into ambassadors.