“Why is photography important? Photography speaks. When I discovered and later understood photographic visual language, I saw that this language could inform, educate and move audiences worldwide without the need for a shared spoken language.”
-MaryAnne Golon, Director of Photography, Washington Post
Photographs are arguably our most valued possessions. We adorn the walls of our homes with framed versions, store them on our phones, and share photos endlessly across social media. Photographs remind us of the good times (and bad). They allow us to share ideas and enable a connection with people, places, and things.
Think of the most powerful photos you have ever seen. What were they and how did they impact you?
A few examples are:
- “Afghan Girl” from the 1985 cover of National Geographic
- “Tank Man” — the Chinese protestor who stopped a column of Soviet tanks in Tiananmen Square (Associated Press, 1989)
- “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper”
Similarly, the photography in your crowdfunding campaign can make or break your launch. The photos in the ads and campaign page play a critical role in telling your story and making a connection between your audience and brand. Words (ad copy) will fade from memory, but photographs do not age. The best images stand the test of time.
Invest the necessary time and dollars to create and use photos that best illustrate your campaign’s story and make an emotional connection. It’s imperative!
The 3-second rule
Consumers are exposed to anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 ads per day, according to The Power of Advertising Photography. How is your brand going to stand apart from the thousands of other ads? How does a crowdfunding campaign win those eyeballs? It must have something to pique the audience’s interest and create an emotional bond between the potential customer and brand. Remember, this is the 21st century. An ad has about 3 seconds to do its job before a first-time viewer scrolls past.
When building ad content, remember the progression a consumer goes through when viewing an ad: imagery, headline, copy. Photo = first impression.
Good lighting and editing
Selected imagery has to accentuate the product’s best features and tell a complete story. When it comes to the nuts and bolts of photography, good lighting is mandatory and editing to enhance is expected. Use free software like Canva or Design Wizard for any editing needs if a professional photo editor is out of your budget. Be mindful of over-editing: perfection in photography is not mandatory and occasionally can be a negative in crowdfunding.
Exercise caution when it comes to the size of the photos. Larger is better than smaller. If the photo does not show the product properly or the viewer has to strain to see it…don’t use it!
Do not alter or distort the faces, features, or bodies of the people, animals, or subjects used in ads. Exaggeration is required in comedy because that’s the source of the humor. In advertising, unnecessary exaggeration or adding elements for effect will create a negative personal experience or perception of the product. This will impact or prevent the psychological connection between brand and consumer, making it nearly impossible to win them back.
Several ads have attempted this tactic with good intentions and found that it has the exact opposite effect on both the consumer and the campaign’s ROI (you can see examples here). Crowdfunding comes with enough risk as it is, so don’t amplify it. Remember an ad only has 3 seconds; put them to good use.
Always err on the side of authenticity in crowdfunding while maintaining a competent, professional aesthetic that will come to signify your brand.
You can do this by using photography to tell your brand’s story. Introducing your audience to the origin of the idea and using photos to illustrate the journey that brought it to life is something any audience will relate to. This defaults to the idea of authenticity in crowdfunding. The more personal and authentic the story is, the more an audience will connect and join the journey toward product realization.
Test images first
You should always test to determine which kind of photos to use in your campaign, e.g. standalone product shots, white background stills, or lifestyle shots. Create multiple ads to conduct image tests. An image test is exactly what it sounds like: testing different photo styles against one another. The click and conversion rate data gives you all the important and relevant learnings about which image(s) will be the most effective.
According to a post on Medium, lifestyle photos perform 50% better than white background photos.
Lifestyle photos initiate the visualization of how the potential customer will use the product. It is important to show the product in a variety of settings, being used by its target audience and with other products. This ensures the telling of a complete story and demonstration of the product’s problem-solving and the need it fills for the user. Advertising legend David Ogilvy, author of Ogilvy on Advertising, wrote: “Advertising which promises no benefit to the consumer does not sell.” Be detailed in the presentation of the product when creating the imagery while maintaining a “less is more” critical eye. How many ads are full of clutter and confuse the consumer as to what they are looking at?
Don’t use stock photos
A good product photo or photo of someone using the product brings clarity where copy and headlines fall short. Once more we refer to Ogilvy on Advertising: A complete demonstration is how you “interest people into a product.”
The images in your ads and campaign page provide an early glimpse of what your brand will eventually become. For this reason, limit the use of stock images in ads. While certain stock imagery can serve a purpose on a limited budget, they often lack the emotion and creative flair needed in crowdfunding. The last thing an emerging brand wants is to be labeled as unoriginal, lacking innovation, or unable to connect with their community… along with incompetent and unprofessional.
Consistency from ads to campaign page
When it comes to the creative assets for a crowdfunding campaign, creators should focus on the big picture and think long-term. Use photography that is consistent in its appearance and is easily repurposed across all mediums and platforms used to promote the campaign and brand (emails, brochures, websites). Consistency refers to the type of shots used (close-ups, product-focused, with or without models, color versus black-and-white, etc..) and the type of editing enhancements (filters) used. This is an easy way to set the expectations the community will have for a brand. It also creates separation from competition.
The imagery and context a community sees in ads needs to be evident when a potential backer lands on a crowdfunding campaign page. Lack of cohesive photographic content from ad to campaign page will confuse potential customers and discourage them from backing. The emotional connection begun in the ad and the seeking of closure in the mind of the consumer (buying the product) has just been brought to a disappointing end. You also lose the opportunity for a healthy ROI due to the lack of continuity.
Crowdfunding photography is worth more than words
A crowdfunding campaign is a story with an uncertain conclusion. The end of the campaign and its success (meeting and ideally surpassing the funding goal) will be determined by the number of backers it receives and the dollars they spend.
The photography and imagery used in the advertising and crowdfunding campaign page generate the initial interest in the product. The feelings these photographs create form an emotional connection between the brand and consumers. These emotions supply the inspiration and motivation backers need to purchase the product. This brings a successful conclusion to both the campaign and story the image(s) initiated in the minds of your backers. Their lives are now improved by this product and the silent story told through its imagery!
The LaunchBoom Studios team is comprised of experts in every part of the creative process, including crowdfunding photography. Apply to work with us today to see the stunning assets we can create for you!