CURATING A BRAND IMAGE LIBRARY FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Updated: Nov 15, 2022
Ahead of launching your new brand, a valuable component to have is a branded image library. If you don’t have original photography to incorporate into your brand’s identity, I recommend curating your own collection from royalty-free resources. This ensures your brand always has a cohesive look and feel across your various customer touch points. Follow the tips below to curate your own brand image library.
WHY YOU NEED TO CURATE A BRAND IMAGE LIBRARY
When preparing to launch your new brand, you’ll have lots to do: set up your website, design your social content calendar, and create brand assets, just to name a few. The thing they all have in common? They all need imagery.
Before you can tackle these tasks, decide on the type of style you want your brand imagery to have and then set out to build a library that will lend itself well across your brand and business.
By doing this early, you’ll save time and energy for when you are assembling your creative assets. Beyond that, it ensures your brand aesthetic flows harmoniously, creating a positive brand experience for your audience.
CHOOSING YOUR BRAND IMAGE STYLE
Before you start gathering imagery, decide what you want your brand’s imagery style to be:
What about its mood and tone? Is it: Colourful? Subdued? Minimalistic? Intricate?
As you’re establishing your image aesthetic, be sure to keep your target audience in mind. What content and style will most resonate with them?
HOW WILL YOU BE USING YOUR IMAGES?
Think of the various ways in which imagery will play a role in your business. Above I mentioned your website and social media as a couple of key customer touch points. How will images be incorporated into these touch points?
Are they purely decorative? Do they tell a story? Do they serve to inspire? Knowing how you’ll use your imagery will allow you to focus on the images that align best with your intention.
BEST RESOURCES FOR IMAGERY AND ILLUSTRATIONS
You don’t need to hire a photographer to create a successful image library. There are so many resources available to you online: some are paid-for subscriptions or bundles, where others you can have entirely free of charge.
My favourite websites for royalty-free photography:
My favourite websites for royalty-free illustration:
Bonus: Most paid-for stock photography companies will offer a free set of stock images if you subscribe.
Bookmark my full list of 20+ creative resources to elevate your brand online
HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT IMAGERY FOR YOUR BRAND
Choosing the right imagery can take time, but this is why it’s so valuable to kick start your brand image library early. Here are my pro-tips for finding the right imagery for your brand.
Search keywords that relate to your industry, mood, subject and intention. For instance, if you’re a tea company, try searching for words like tea cup, high tea, teapot, relaxing, kitchen, reading, etc. These will start to unveil possible images that could be used in your branding.
As you start to browse the results, new keywords will pop into your head making your search easier as you go. You’ll be surprised what inspires you along the way. Don’t worry too much about where or how you’ll use them just yet, the important thing is to start gathering images.
Stick to Your Brand Colour Palette
As you sort through the images that come from your keyword searches, look for photos that incorporate your brand colours. This is the key to maintaining a strong brand aesthetic.
These colours don’t need to dominate the image, just look for those that feature one of your colours or feature more neutral tones.
Similarly, they don’t have to be the exact colour match. If your brand colours are pinks and oranges, stick to images that feature similar colours and try to avoid images that are dominated by cool greens or blues.
As an example, my own brand palette features greens and pink. The imagery that I use will generally have either one of those colours as the colour focal point. Here are three examples of recent stock photos I used on my Instagram.
The colours are not a direct match to my brand palette but they are cohesive with the colour scheme. You’ll notice that even my branded photoshoot deliberately incorporates my deep green.
Try this Canva Hack
Canva can help you source images with your brand colours in a snap! Follow these steps:
Start a new design in Canva
Click on the Photos menu
Under the search bar, click on the Filters icon
Select the first colour swatch with + sign (as shown in image)
Add one of your brand colour hex codes
Apply filter and VOILA!
Canva will filter all stock images with your brand colour.
Try this other Canva hack for designing your Brand Colour Palette
If you’re opting for illustration instead of photography, Undraw allows you to customize their pre-made graphics to incorporate your brand colour.
Create a System for Your Brand Library
I sort my stock photography by subject for ease later on. That way, when I am in need of a particular type of image for something, I’ll know where to look first. For instance, some of my image folders are:
desks and computers
How you sort your images is completely up to you. Another thing I try to do is mark the images I’ve used so that I’m not reusing the same image more than once (unless deliberately so). The method I use is simply right-clicking on an image I’ve used and marking it with a grey colour tag.
Don’t Forget to Restock
Periodically, you’ll want to revisit your favourite stock photography websites to see what new content has been added. Try brainstorming some other keywords and types of searches that may yield new and exciting results.
Splurge on Quality
While you have endless amounts of imagery available to you for free, it never hurts to invest in your business when it comes to your brand. Shop curated photo bundles that match your brand style and colours. The collections put together by Styled Stock Society are a great place to start and are very affordable.
As you start saving images, you’ll begin to build your own curated brand image library that you can pull from as needed. Having this collection of images that have been carefully selected to match your brand’s aesthetic is far easier than hunting for an image when you need it. Not only does it save you tons of time, it can inspire content that relates to the images you have and most importantly, it delivers a strong, consistent brand for your audience.
Jenny Henderson is a brand strategist and business mentor. She collaborates with service-based solopreneurs to design memorable brands that allow them to make a living doing what they love. Since 2020, her branding studio has become a place where small business owners learn to think like a brand.