Ever bite into a juicy burger filled with mashed potatoes for that extra plump look, a nice coating of glycerin for a healthy shine and tiny toothpicks holding your lettuce the perfect distance from the tomatoes? Or on hot summer day enjoy a refreshing glass of your favorite carbonated beverage with a side of antacid tablets for that extra fizz and just a dab of dish soap to provide a couple yummy surface bubbles at the top of the glass?
Advertisers have made these tactics and many others commonplace, to get the perfect image displayed across a billboard or TV screen. But as small business owners we can’t afford to fall into these same pitfalls. Just like the treats previously described, a perfectly packaged brand image can leave a bad taste in the mouth. Or even worse, none at all.
Professional, but Not Perfect
People enjoy people. Our humanity creates deeper cognitive bonds, similar to those described in the previous installment of Visual Monologues. Don’t ditch a real and sincere passion for your business to substitute in what the experts think your clients may want. Make your differences your strengths. If your competitors all have a mature staff of middle-aged adults, capitalize on pictures of your teenaged staff that support your goal to uplift the next generation. Is the competition well-established with a long history in your local community? Then highlight images of your newly built facility with its clean lines and hi-tech upgrades. Take some time to think about the thing you find as your biggest challenge. Then embrace it. It makes you, you.
This directly translates into the visual language your business will want to speak. If your smiles are always plastered just so, your sincerity comes into question. Stock photos from online dispensers may feature perfectly aligned teeth and beautifully appealing faces, but nothing will ever top the face in the ad matching the actual face to be encountered. YOUR face. Photos of your staff, store or office space, and most importantly, YOU, will be a refreshing break from the constant barrage of too-good-to-be-true advertising that surrounds us now. Let us see your face and form connections to who you really are. The outcome will be consumer buy-in, not only to your brand, but to the people behind the brand.
Let Loose, Stand Out
As small businesses, we often think that competing with large corporations means we have to act like large corporations. Straight ties, eyes to the front, toe to the line. But in today’s market of creative genius this concept is already antiquated. Loosen up and show us visually how your services stand out in quality. If this means bright yellow tennis shoes for the staff of the corner bakery then bring on the bright yellow tennis shoes. Showing off a bit of creativity doesn’t make you any less professional or your product or services any less valuable. Instead it makes you human and that much more memorable in the visual moments that you create.