When it comes to maintaining a successful brand the whole needs to be more than the sum of its parts. It gets there by showing a consistent and focused message. Every part of a company's communication needs to add to the whole. This starts with staying on brand and that includes the logo, colors, fonts, proportions, icons, slogans, and photos—yes photos.
Unfortunately, third parties often fail to understand this. I’m not sure if it’s a case of wanting to make an extra buck by selling new pictures or building one’s portfolio—regardless—rather than helping the client, a third party will undermine a brand (and ultimately the client) when it fails to adhere to all branding components.
By way of example, I’m working with a high-end boutique. As part of the corporate branding I captured a library of professional images of the client’s establishment and merchandise. When the client asked me to share pictures with a local advertiser I made several images available, but none were used and the advertiser never requested any additional images. (Keep in mind that these same images will consistently be used on the website, Facebook, email marketing.) Thankfully, the advertisement group used the client’s logo, but nothing else in the advertisement was on brand.
In contrast, other clients I’ve worked for already had a large selection of images that were actively in use. In some cases I liked the photos, while at other times I would have preferred shooting new ones. However, as a professional one has to realize that maintaining brand integrity is of the upmost importance as opposed to leaving your finger prints on a client’s business and corporate image.
As marketing communicators we must always put the client’s needs before our pride and portfolios. That means working with existing brand elements and educating clients on the importance of brand integrity—regardless if you created the branding elements or not.
Obviously, from season to season photographs (and perhaps other brand elements) will need to be updated, but changes need to be global. Random changes that only tickle our prides create confusion, message distortion and brand erosion. My challenge to you is to always consider brand integrity with every marketing piece you create. If it isn’t adding to the whole—reinforcing what should be a consistent targeted message—then you’re not doing your job but just serving yourself.