Brandphoto4

Consistency = Confidence: How Stock Photography Can Work Against Your Brand

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I believe that successful brands are built on three things: credibility, relevance and differentiation. Cheesy stock photos can hurt you in all three areas…
Source: BNBranding

 

Today we are tackling a big topic: the relationship between your brand, stock photography, and COVID.  As many businesses navigate through the COVID crisis, their marketing strategies are now including elements like updated health & safety protocols, COVID measures, and reopening guides.

 

As you start to capture your safety conscious brand, you might not have on-brand images to pair with your messaging. Is this important? Are stock images okay? How do I start? We have all the answers for you here!

 

Do I have to use images in my branded marketing? 

The easiest way to teach people who you are is to include visuals in your messaging. We know you might think we’re biased on this topic, so we’ve filled this section full of stats to support our love for visual marketing!

    • Photos guide us towards purchasing: According to MDG Advertising, 67% of online shoppers rated high-quality images as being “very important” to their purchase decision – more so than “reviews and ratings”! Additionally, 68% of marketers rank images as more valuable content than text and video.
    • Good imagery helps us learn and remember: Nearly two-thirds of people say they’re visual learners, in fact our brains process visual information approximately 60,000 times faster than text content! Plus, on average people only recall 10% of information 3 days after hearing it; just by adding a picture recall can improve up to 65%. 
    • Visuals help your SEO: Did you know search engines prioritize visually-heavy content? In fact, pages that appear in Google’s featured mobile snippets on average have at least 12 images. Plus, posting an article with strong visual elements averages 37 percent more engagement!
                                Source: MGD Advertising

 

Is Using Stock Imagery Really That Bad?

Stock imagery is a huge industry – one that supports many fellow photographers, so we aren’t hating! However the reality is that stock photography can in fact work against your messaging and even harm your brand in certain conditions. We’ve got some stats to back that up: 

    • Remember how we said images stick with us? Our brains make powerful connections to imagery – and since stock photography is available to everyone, this can work with or against us. Subconsciously, if we’ve made a negative association to an image we will recall and project that sentiment again the next time we see it. Even if the first association with an image is positive, your guests brain will wire a connection between your brand + the image + the first brand they saw it on, muddying the uniqueness of your brand.
    • Authenticity isn’t generic: your people are already invested in you, and new potential clients are attracted to authenticity. This is proven by a study Marketing Experiments where they tested a photo of the company founder on a website banner against the existing control group using their top performing stock image model. Both photos represented similar qualities of customer service and professionalism, however the results showed that visitors and customers were 35% more likely to sign up on the page using the named photo of someone from the company!
                                  Source: Marketing Experiments
    • Consistency = Confidence: trust is built with consistency. From your logo to the tone of your copy, great brands are consistent in their messaging. Google Trends shows us that “Coronavirus Stock Photos” emerged as a popular search term starting in March. The question you have to ask yourself is if a stock image of a model wearing a mask or gloved hands cleaning a table is able to fit in consistently with all your other brand elements?  

 

 

How to Use On-Brand Imagery

So we know that our minds can process and make judgments of visual information within milliseconds, that our subconscious wires powerful connections to these images, and that consistency = trust for brands… Now how do you apply this to your company? Below we’ve highlighted some of the best ways to start:

    • Use on-brand photography to showcase your safety-conscious brand.
    • Maintain consistency by updating your channels with current images of your team (a practice that also boosts morale by involving your people directly into your brand!)
    • Develop your own stock of on-brand images to pull from for various messaging campaigns without having to search for generic stock alternatives (particularly helpful since we know that COVID will continue requiring frequent updates across your channels)
    • Make sure the post production of your images upholds your brand integrity. How an editor dials the white balance, vibrancy, and saturation of an image can make a huge impact on the final product. Ensure your editor is aware of your brand values so that impact is positive not negative for your brand!

 

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but if some of those words misrepresent your brand, then what are you actually saying? As your on-brand photography experts, we would love to continue this conversation with you. 

 

Our team can help review, assess and strategize how to capture a wide variety of on-brand photo assets for all your business communications. We look forward to learning more about you and your brand!

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Lana_safe3

How We’ve Approached Safety

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We have been constantly inspired by the commitment our industry has made to adaptive learning through these past months; and now as event professionals put that knowledge into action we are so excited to be back behind the lens again capturing safe intimate gatherings! 

 

To celebrate all that we’ve learned together, we are sharing the insights and measures our team has taken towards safety, as well as examples of some of the small COVID conscious events we’ve had the pleasure to begin capturing.

 

What Health & Safety Looks Like for Our Photography Company

    • Perfecting Our Personal & Professional Policies: We’ve reviewed, revised, and developed new policies and procedures with the safety of our team, your project, and your guests at top of mind. Regular health screenings, monitoring techniques, and hygiene practices will be implemented daily in our home, offices, and of course onsite. 

    • One Big Supportive Family: We’ve always been proud of our large talented team and their ability to take on multiple cross-country projects at a time. However now we will be using our numbers to create a supportive and safe scheduling system that ensures we always have multiple back ups. No one should ever feel pressured to work through a cold and our revised scheduling system will support both our photographers and your project. 

    • Social Distancing & PPE: It’s generally easy for photographers to stay 2m away, in fact we usually operate best at over 6’ distance from your guests! However we will be prepared for all scenarios, supplying our team with masks and sanitizer happily respecting your guests safety bubble.

    • New Angles & Techniques: Our team specializes in finding the best angles to capture the unique moments of your event, and we will be adapting our creative eye to make sure that this continues with your social distancing guests. Whether it’s spaced out seating, or large groups standing a part, our team will be able to find unique opportunities to capture your safety conscious program.

    • Informed and Aware: We will continue to stay informed about the evolving guidelines, and an informed photographer can be a valuable resource for your event. Our team can assist you in the consultation phase to align on the current spacing regulations etc. We can also help position guests safely and make sure that your photos in the end reflect your commitment to safety.

 

Safe Events In Action

Regardless of the event you’re hosting, people want to be able to share photos they are proud of, and for individuals and businesses right now that means being able to share photos that say “I’m having fun, while being safe”.  Here are some examples of events we’ve captured recently that show just that.

 

 

The ILEA Calgary Chapter found creative ways to celebrate with their members at their annual ILEA End of the Year event in June. Gift bags were picked up at OneWest Events providing guests with items to make guests feel connected while they viewed a live broadcast from FMAV from the comfort of their homes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, a small group of local event profs gathered at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel for the live viewing party of the CSE Awards Gala. Intimate table settings, face masks, and clear signage & guidelines created a safe atmosphere for celebration!  

 

 

In July local ILEA members gathered together to strategize and plan ahead during the annual ILEA Calgary ChapterAGM.

 

 

Small Events aren’t the only thing we’ve been capturing recently. We’ve also had the pleasure of shooting reopening businesses like Hotel Arts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What type of projects do you have coming up? We want to learn more about your unique approach to reopening and small gatherings, and would love to illustrate your vision as it comes to life through on-brand photography that tells your story.

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front desk 2

How to Showcase Your Safety Conscious Brand

Health and Safety has been an increasingly marketable asset for businesses over the past decade, now so more than ever as COVID remains prevalent in our daily headlines. Communicating your unique Health & Safety approach is a reopening strategy corporations and small businesses alike are implementing across the country. In this blog we will share insights and tips for how you can start showcasing your safety conscious brand to your community.

 

Why Should I Showcase My Safety Conscious Brand? 

A great brand not only solves a need for its potential customers, but also builds loyalty by showing up with a consistent and authentic identity. Now with COVID-19, your clients will have new concerns you’ll want to strategically address. Our research shows these top 3 reasons you won’t want to miss out on the safety conversation: 

    1. Establishing Trust with your Clients and Customers. You’ve worked hard to develop a brand that your clients can trust. Whether or not Health & Safety was a part of your brand before, it’s a new quality that will remain in high demand for the foreseeable future. Bridge the gap between your customers’ concerns and the business they know and trust with a clear on-brand communications strategy.
    2. Retaining the Confidence of Your Team. Don’t forget that your team members are your frontline brand ambassadors, and they may have concerns too. Human Resources departments across various industries are currently reporting challenges with employee retention. Showcasing your safety conscious brand shows your people you have their best interests at heart, reduces talent turnover, and installs an atmosphere of confidence your team can pass on to your clients.
    3. Differentiate your business from the competition. Use this opportunity to show up as a leader to your community. With regulations and guidelines shifting daily, being able to frequently update your Health & Safety communications strategy will set you apart from the pack. 

 

Where Do I Start?  

Every business is unique. Local regulations will vary whether your headquarters hail from Calgary, Edmonton, or Vancouver, so a smart first step is educating yourself on your national and local guidelines. 

You can also start by taking a look at this list curated by our on-brand photography and marketing specialists, for ways your business can communicate its commitment to a safe reopening:

    • Create a COVID-19 landing page on your website so customers can easily find the answers to their COVID related questions.
    • Post your Health & Safety protocols online, updating them frequently as the situation evolves. 
    • If you made changes to your business, such as installing on-brand safety signage or barriers, showcase these steps to your community! Check out a great example of this here!
    • Capture your team in action. Whether it’s headshots in their safety masks, or behind the scenes shots of your protocols in effect, these are impactful marketing assets that can double as a team bonding experience. 
    • Stay Social. Whether it’s writing blogs, generating e-newsletters, or posting on your social channels don’t shy away from the conversation. Show up as a leader by consistently showcasing your commitment to your employees’ and guests’ safety.  

 

Most Importantly, Make it Feel like You!

One of the biggest risks for a brand is losing the trust of your followers. People are more responsive to messaging paired with authentic on-brand photos, so before you upload another safety mask stock image to your website, let’s talk about your unique story. 

 

We would love to hear about the safety measures you are putting in place as you reopen your business. We can help you showcase your safety conscious brand. Connect with us through any of our channels to keep this conversation going!

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Hotel Arts Main Entrance

Reopening post Covid-19: Hotel Arts’ on-brand approach

Located in the heart of downtown Calgary, Hotel Arts is a creative hub that has always set itself apart from the pack. From the moment you walk into this boutique property their impressive art collection, modern aesthetic, and exceptional service staff lets guests know that they are in for a one-of-a-kind experience. 

 

So when this Alberta business looked at reopening, it’s no surprise they went the extra mile. Take a look at this team’s intuitive and inspired approach to reopening. 

 

How they did it

The first step to reopening is implementing the local and national regulations specific to your industry. Fraser Abbott of Hotel Arts says it was “important that our guests feel welcome and safe in our new environment”, and so they started looking for creative ways to make their social distancing protocols feel like home. 

 

As a design-centric destination, it was important that the entire experience felt on-brand. Alongside their design partner OneWest Events, Hotel Arts thought deeply about how to infuse every COVID related change with the unique creativity of their brand. From witty captions, to artistic graphics, the results you see below show how clear safety communication doesn’t have to be sterile or boring! 

 

Installing effective signage wasn’t the only part of their reopening strategy. Hotel Arts has proven themselves to be an exemplary advocate for the importance of communicating your efforts to your network. Fraser Abbott sums this point up perfectly: “It’s important to communicate updates with our guests, suppliers and artisans. Beyond expressing in generic terms that we’ve added new signage and safety measures, it is much more effective to provide visual examples of the work we’ve done. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words” establishing a confidence you can’t achieve with the written word alone.

It is much more effective to provide visual examples of the work we’ve done. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Fraser Abbott, Director of Business Development at Hotel Arts

Insights and TakeAways

When you walk into the newly reopened Hotel Arts, you feel just as inspired and welcomed as you did pre-COVID. By upholding their brand integrity and sharing their experience through their social and marketing platforms they’ve created an inspired example for small businesses to follow. 

 

Have you reopened recently? We would love to hear what your experience has been like and help you showcase your safety conscious brand! 

 

 

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Svetlana Yanova

Meet Svetlana

Full Name: Svetlana Yanova

City you live in: Calgary, Alberta

Role: Lead Photographer 

Gear: Canon 5dmk4, Canon EOS R, L series lenses

 

Meet Svetlana, our talented lead photographer who’s creative passion starts shining the second she arrives onsite. 

 

Svetlana is one of those event professionals who is used to operating at 100km/hr (sound familiar anyone?). It’s common to see Svetlana at multiple photography locations in a single day, excelling at parenthood, and keeping up with her fitness classes without missing a beat! 

 

Having adjusted into a new pace during COVID, Svetlana shares that the main insight she has gained through this experience is “the importance of taking it easy”. Rest is something many of us sacrifice when working full-tilt, and Svetlana (traditionally a 6hr / night person) has found new energy and fresh perspectives from her reset schedule. 

 

Rested and resilient, she has channeled her energy recently into a variety of projects including: a meaningful Porch Portrait campaign, becoming a high school teacher for a few months of homeschooling, and taking long daily walks with her husband where they settle for nothing less than 10k steps! (okay, sometimes maybe 9,352 she jokingly admits). 

 

She also was just named one of Calgary’s Best Photographers by, Best of Calgary, and we couldn’t be more proud to see her receive this well deserved title! 

 

Svetlana’s best advice she ever received was “Move forward one step at a time”, a task for productive-types she notes is “not as easy as it sounds!”. To the fellow photographers that keep her inspired and the clients she can’t wait to capture interacting freely again, Svetlana hopes that through this experience we can remember the importance of resting, relaxing, and allowing ourselves to walk through this experience one foot ahead of the other.

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Kristi Sneddon

Meet Kristi

Full Name: Kristi Sneddon

City you live in: Airdrie, small town just outside of Calgary

Role: Photographer and Editor

Gear: Nikon D750, 28-70mm and 70-200mm lenses, flashes and Prophoto lighting gear.

 

Meet Kristi! One of our talented photographers and editors from Leblond Studio who’s natural kindness and humour allows her to create meaningful connections in all her projects. 

 

A self-proclaimed A-type personality, Kristi usually channels her organizational skills to structure her days for maximum efficiency; however throughout COVID she has surprised herself with a new rhythm. “I’ve been much more relaxed about things. Giving both myself and the kids a day off in the middle of the week for a mental health break. Cleaning? What’s that?!”. 

 

Like many of us this new space and relaxed pacing has led Kristi to reconnect with experiences and hobbies so often left on the backburner. From gardening to taking up sewing again for the first time in years, Kristi notes a variety of new insights gained through isolation.

 

The most profound of all her insights she has discovered by watching her children use their imaginations. “I’ve sat down the hall from them, listening to them play.  I have laughed, cried and been inspired by all the ideas that they come up with.” 

 

Kristi has always believed in the advice “It’s good to make mistakes, that’s how you learn.” Now through observing her children in their endlessly creative world that feels more true than ever.

 

As we look to the future she hopes we all can bring forward with us some lessons from kids at play; Let’s allow ourselves to not rush back so fast into the old pace that we forget the insights we gained from keeping things simple.

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DSC_1742

Meet Shelbi

Full Name: Shelbi Bernhard

City you live in: Calgary, Alberta

Role: Art Director

Gear: Nikon all the way! My go to is my 50mm f/1.4 lens.

 

Meet Shelbi! The talented Art Director at Leblond Studio who infuses happiness, thoughtful passion, and a dash of wit into everything she touches. 

 

Like many of us #cagedcreatives, Shelbi has been navigating her way through the COVID crisis embracing the insights and challenges that come with the journey. She noticed the sensation of being caged most when the weather outside was cold and dreary, keeping her away from enjoying the outdoors. 

 

Yet on these colder days she found more space to explore new avenues of creativity, including: learning to embroider; refining her mastery in the kitchen; and most importantly preparing with her partner to become first-time parents! On June 5th they welcomed baby Jasper into the world! 

 

Reflecting over the past months, this new mom expressed gratitude for the additional time to nest. In contrast to their typically full professional schedules the ability to not rush the nursery process was a welcomed surprise during this strange time we are all in. 

 

When we asked Shelbi what has surprised her most about being in isolation, she reflected on her preconceptions about introversion and extroversion. “’I’m surprised by how much I used to identify as an introvert. I definitely have more introverted tendencies but it’s amazing how much I took extroverted tasks and experiences for granted.” To embrace this period of extended introversion she has leaned into podcasts and literature to stay inspired by creative masters such as fashion icon Betty Johnson – her current memoir muse. 

 

The best piece of advice Shelbi ever received came from her post secondary photography instructor, Rory Mahony, who told her to “Be Bold”. Whether you are a photographer, #eventprof, or a #cagedcreative Shelbi reminds us to stay safe, stay inspired, and to be bold.

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virtualbackgroundsbyleblondstudio

Virtual Backgrounds

Over the past few weeks we have all become more familiar with the world of video conferencing. Platforms like Zoom are allowing us to stay connected while we stay apart, and we are so grateful to live in an age where we can so easily invite each other into our homes as we navigate through these social distancing measures together. 

 

However like many of you, we still miss the feeling of connecting onsite, of seeing all the details come together for the memorable live event experiences our community creates. Luckily Zoom has a solution for transporting us out of our homes with their background options, and we’ve decided to make some specifically for our #eventprof family! 

 

Follow this link to download our set of #eventprofs Zoom Backgrounds! We’d love to know which are your favourites and see screenshots of you using them in action at your next industry video chat. Tag us on social @leblondstudio.

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