In a digital and increasingly AI-driven era, consumers crave the real deal.
The most elusive yet valuable quality in business is trust. Every brand wants it, but coming right out and asking for it is the surest way to alienate clients. Instead, audiences have to feel that trust for themselves, and they look for it in hundreds of subtle markers that all add up to the conclusion that your business will do right by them.
Establishing trust is easier to do in person than online. When you meet people face to face, shake their hands, communicate professionally, and are open and transparent with relevant business details, you inspire confidence. But online, businesses rely on more indirect signals, such as product reviews, comments on social media, and the overall design aesthetic of a company. (Think about how much more you respect a brand with a modern, polished website than one that looks as if it hasn’t been updated in a decade.)
One of the most compelling trust signals comes from photography and video. In an environment so steeped in abstract graphics, stock images, and AI-generated visuals, seeing the real employees at their actual office can feel electrifying. And yet, many businesses leave this step behind because they don’t fully appreciate the difference these images make in how others relate to their brand.
In this article I’d like to talk about three things:
- Why original photography and video are essential enablers of the Buyer’s Journey.
- The limitations of stock imagery (and when it has its place!).
- Why video is important to take your imagery to the next level.
By putting your brand behind the camera and in front of your audience, you can win confidence in a way that other methods just can’t. Here’s why.
Visuals are a synonym of authenticity.
If you’ve had any contact with the world of B2B marketing, you’ve probably heard of the Buyer’s Journey. According to this paradigm, whenever someone makes a purchasing decision, they move through stages of awareness about their problems and the possible solutions. This process can be very quick (you didn’t realize you were hungry until you saw that slice of cake), or very long (you may have had some pain points for years and still haven’t found a solution). The goal of marketing is to help move buyers through the stages of the buyer’s journey, and the biggest roadblock on that journey is uncertainty. How do they know that your product will resolve their pain? How do they know they can trust you?
By establishing the human connection. When you show photos of your actual team and the offices you work in, it quickly enables your audience to identify with your brand on a personal level. Similarly, when you shoot video of your factory in operation or your products in use, it places your business in a context that creates a more intuitive connection for the viewer between what you do and how it impacts their lives.
This is what we call emotional branding. When you cultivate a story through imagery, you peel back the layers and get to the root cause of why a person needs to work with your business. When people have that emotional connection to your product, it invokes action. It draws audiences through the stages of the buyer’s journey, from awareness to decision, faster than words alone could do.
Aligning your brand along a visual, visceral level is a requirement of brand awareness.
This is even more critical in a technical industry, where many of the supporting processes are several degrees removed from their real-world results. Many businesses, when faced with this situation, lean into abstract imagery, or rely heavily on generic stock photos. In doing so, they create even more distance between their product and the consumer. Instead, businesses need to tap into the authenticity of photography and video to create a meaningful bond.
You can’t build your brand on stock imagery alone.
Let’s take a moment to talk about stock. There can be a lot of care in the selection of stock, and we’d be the first to say it has its place, especially in repeated deliverables like social media, blogs, and email.
But stock has its limitations, and original photography is a better choice in key brand places such as hero images on websites, downloadables, brochures, and conference materials. These spaces leave more of the thumbprint where your brand identity needs to be solidified. When it comes to the images that will be positioned alongside your brand, the people who will literally become the face of your company, you want to take more of a white glove touch to who’s representing your company.
Bringing a photographer in for an original photo shoot isn’t about creating a series of formal portraits. On a full day shoot, your photographer can capture action shots of your team working, location shots of your facilities, and product images of your output. Even in spaces where stock imagery might easily have been used, original photography can have a surprising impact by bringing a touch of authenticity to your visual identity.
When video makes all the difference.
What’s true of photography is true a hundred fold in video. There’s no better way to visually show methods and solutions than through video. Capturing motion shows urgency and method. It gives life to your product in ways that photos and text wishes it could do. When you show the care and emotion on a person’s face, or you show the client mid-jubilation because they see how you’re going to help them, it conveys authenticity as quickly as possible.
Once again, in a technical industry where the product seems too complex to represent visually, the temptation is to lean into more abstract imagery. But video allows you to establish precisely the emotional connection your customers crave. It translates your product from something complicated and technical to “the solution that’s going to get me out of work on time so that I don’t miss my daughter’s ballet recital.”
Video also has an impressive range of use cases extending from pride of place on your home page to the front lines of your online advertising. These include:
- Brand introduction. Few marketing tools can communicate the heart of your company as well as a brand video. Showcase your team, humanize your company, speak your core values and demonstrate how you apply them to your customers.
- Product or service. Video can make a customer want what you have faster than almost anything else. When you drill down into the specifics of your offerings, it gives you space to speak with confidence and authority about what you do best.
- Instructional or demo. An instructional or educational video can walk a client through a challenge and show how you provide the solution. This video form can be helpful for current clients as well as new ones.
- Client testimonial or case study. If a client testimonial is the gold standard of social proof, then video is the gold standard of a client testimonial. Take it a step farther with a case study to tell the whole story.
- Video ad. Across platforms, video attracts more attention and is more successful at yielding results than other ad forms. Video ads can be edited together from footage of other video types as well, extending the value of your investment.
These ideas don’t require a lot of time or space to communicate. Videos can cut through online digital clutter to create a personal connection in a matter of seconds. And when they do, they leave an impression that will last with your audiences far longer than a slogan or headline would.
When it comes to establishing the authenticity of your brand, original photography and video are your best shot.
To make a long story short: imagery grabs attention. The visual impact of emotional branding through video and photography cannot be overstated, especially in the context of the Internet, where you may only have a few seconds to make a connection. Words might not be enough, imagery and video might not be enough, but the two working in tandem will break through.
Ultimately, investing in original video and photography is about brand representation. It’s about visually demonstrating what your brand represents past the polished positioning statement or the brand statement. You can talk all day about who you are, what you do, and why your customers should buy from you. But when your ethics, the values you align with, and your work mentality shine through your visuals, it tells its own story.
And trust me, it’s one your customers will want to hear.