Last Thursday afternoon I met an author friend, C, to discuss her the cover for her latest book. Over vanilla latte’s (her’s) and iced coffee (mine) we talked about the story, the emotions, the characters, the glamorous jewelry in the story and the writing process.
C writes fiction, primarily family saga’s with drama (of course), romance and suspense thrown in. I was putting together pictures and instructions for the graphic designer. The previous week I gathered several concept pictures. I wasn’t sure if any would resonate with her.
C had a strong idea of the story line and emotions the front cover should portray. I was concerned we would go overboard with a cover that was too much, ending up feeling diluted and not connecting with readers.
It was a very big possibility that we wouldn’t be able to come to a consensus about the cover and it wouldn’t get done in the timeline we wanted.
I was nervous.
Problem #1: Trying to Include Too Much
That’s the first problem many of us make when we design our business brand style. We have so many ideas we want to include, especially us creatives. The ideas overfloweth.
We cram all of our ideas and values and services into the front page of the website, the book cover, the instagram feed.
But instead of looking clear and concise, it gets messy. And messy tends to translate to confusion to the viewr.
There is often so much the business owner, the author, want to say. It’s important to focus on a few things, not many. This goes for our images, the words on our website and our social media posts.
Problem #1: Too much is messy and confusing
Solution: Simplify! What one value do you want to convey?
Easier said than done, right? But the work to focus on a few things well will pay off in the end.
Problem #2: Trying to be artistic/clever/original
The second problem I’ve encountered are business owners who have a clever or artistic idea of what they want their logo, brand style, etc. to look like. Back to authors; many have ideas about a very artistic cover. It speaks to them, but it doesn’t give the audience the real impression of what the book is about.
Consider this: love them or hate them, best selling romance novels look basically the same in their subject matter, right? There is a reason for this! It works!
For a business, the problem is often the symbol or image means something to you, the business owner, but your customers don’t get it. Rule of thumb: if you have to explain why the image is there, it’s not the right image!
I talked with a woman business owner who was coaching professional women and helping them with a number of services. She asked me about her website. The website itself was lovely, but the images were of nature scenes. Gorgeous pictures, but it left me confused. After all, she was in the business of helping people get things done, not in creating a luxurious retreat for them.
My suggestion was to add in pictures of her working with clients and a picture of herself, so people could get an impression of her.
Solution: Include pictures people would expect with your workshop/industry/book
Weave your own colors, insight, personality, etc. into those images. There’s no need to be generic. But have pictures people expect you to have.
So if you are a business coach, show pictures of your target audience smiling in a workshop setting or whatever setting would be natural for your brand.
Be savvy with pictures
Get bold and start asking people to take pictures of you in action in your work. Hire a photographer to take pictures of your workshops or interactions with customers in your store. If you’re an author, writer, blogger, do you do meetup events or book signings? Make sure someone is taking pictures.
Ideally, you work with a local photographer. It’s a wise investment and you could use good pictures over and over in different ways.
If that isn’t possible (or you have an event tomorrow!) grab a friend who’s photographically inclined. One of my sisters has a natural knack for photography. If I’m in a pinch, I ask her to take pictures, even with my phone. (If you’d like tips for asking family & friends for help, check out the printable with today’s post!).
In the interim of having pictures taken, hop on a stock photography site and grab some pictures. Make sure they’re aligned with the colors of your seasonal archetype (or the main colors in your brand right now)
It may leave them confused or unsure of what you’re about.
Solution: focus on images that the customer will understand. Don’t be clever!
Back to my friend, C, and I. We searched through the pictures, one by one, discussing what we liked and didn’t like.
Suddenly, C exclaimed, “That’s it! That’s the one!” She pointed to a picture exuberating the essence of the book, a woman’s search for love and power. We were both thrilled.
It didn’t have all the artistic elements she wanted, but it contained the main ones. A few details may be able to be integrated in by the designer, but their details, not the main thing.
Whether you turn to stock photography, ask a photograph-inclined friend to take pictures or hire a photographer, finding the right images is a time-taking process.
In the end, those pictures elevate your brand and attract people to you and your business.
If you’d like more tips on taking & finding authentic pictures to elevate your brand, and you don’t have a pro photographer to work with at the moment, there’s a printable tip sheet to guide you. The best time to star taking pictures of your business is today!