With your story and your style determined, the foundations for building your unique brand identity are on solid ground. You know what you’re all about; why you’re doing what you’re doing (meaning), and you’ve developed some idea of the unique personality you’d like to express (difference). Let’s build on that, by delving into the type of photographic imagery best suited to your brand.
Scanning any social media platform, you’ll notice that most content features photographic images – it’s often the centrepiece of a design, with text and graphics to complement it, and convey more specific information. It’s the image that we notice first, and it is what ultimately determines if we pause long enough to read what you have to say.
If you plan on producing beautiful content regularly (that’s the goal, right?), you’ll need brand images on tap – which is where Over makes your life a breeze in terms of building a brand identity. Between the Unsplash and Pixabay photo libraries in Over, there are literally millions of images to use in your designs – all free with a PRO account.
As far as a branding tool goes, this is brilliant. But you’ll remember from our previous chapter how critical it is to be consistent with your visual communication. You can’t simply pick images on a whim every time you design a new post. You could spend hours down that rabbit hole, and we’re here to save you time. So, invest a little time upfront to gather a pool of design images that suit your brand. Use your story and your style as a compass as you navigate this endless ocean.
We’ve done some of that heavy lifting for you already, with curated folders of the very best images for your particular design style. Feel free to dig into these, and download (for free) the ones you like best, so they’re stored in your device’s photo folder.
Let’s take a quick look at some ideas to help you when choosing images suited to your brand style, and get a glimpse of the free photos we’ve curated for you.
Use the link in each section to access the full collection, and download for free. Or simply access any of them in Over, and add them to your canvas with a single tap.
Bold design images are typically quite minimalist, but very vivid, geometric, and punchy. Look out for abstract patterns from urban architecture, and bright color blocking. Images of people are typically very powerful: they dominate the full frame, often against backgrounds of solid color, with expressive or even surreal studio lighting.
Photographs are very intentional, and carefully framed. People in the pictures stare into the camera, exuding confidence – the bold side of their personality.
Images for building your Bold brand identity should ideally be uncluttered, with deep hues, because they’ll usually serve as a backdrop for oversized, chunky typefaces, and solid geometric graphics. Bold styling doesn’t invite us in to explore intricate detail – it’s aim is to jump right out of the screen, and slam your eyeballs with immediate and unmissable visual impact.
You’ll know you’re looking at a Playful branding image if you feel the corners of your mouth starting to curl up just by looking at it. Like Bold imagery, there’s a juicy combination of color and simplicity, often seeking out vivid abstract patterns in the environment – brightly painted walls or doors, or the summery contrast of a yellow towel beside a turquoise swimming pool. Color palettes tend toward the softer side, with pastel candy tones being very popular.
More often than not, these kinds of photographs are made in studios, moving beyond the clutter and texture of reality, and into a calm, stylized world of fruity tones and perfect soft lighting. Art direction plays a major role, and arranging objects into neat, harmonious compositions can be very pleasant on the eye. Doodles, splashes, and swirls of color, in the mode of childlike expression, are also hallmarks of Playful imagery.
When it comes to people, it goes without saying that joy is the prevailing sentiment. Images of people smiling and laughing, or caught up in the flow of lighthearted moments, are all going to be worthwhile visual assets for building your Playful brand image. A sprinkling of silliness is never a bad idea, either.
Minimal images give your eyes a moment to take a breather on their relentless and frenetic journey through your Instagram feed. Defined by zero clutter, and a solitary focal point afloat in empty space, these images require no exploration or decoding, and are therefore quite psychologically soothing.
The subjects in Minimal photographs echo this sense of tranquility, frequently isolating fragments of the natural world: sand, plants, skies, the ocean, bare skin. Simple studio backdrops with solitary objects are popular, especially when the foreground and background are rendered in similar hues. Natural, grounded tones are preferable to vivid palettes in the Minimalist mode, and the calming colorlessness of sanctuary whites is always a failsafe option.
The relative complexity and emotional expression of the human face means that we rarely see portraiture in Minimalist photographs. Instead, the human form tends to be seen in the distance, almost insignificant within the infinite expanse of nature, or magnificently spacious architecture. Hands or abstract, close-up sections of the human body would also be ideas to look at in this world.
Minimal images are wonderful to work with when building a brand identity, because they leave open vast tracts of canvas space for text in your design. With less detail to compete with, copy in a Minimalist design is often elevated to the focal point. Just be careful not to undo the simplicity of this style by crowding the empty space with too many words or graphics.
No points for guessing where most photographs in the Street style are taken. Yup, it’s baked right into the name. The environment is a crucial component for this design style. Unlike Bold, where we frequently see studio portraits, Street photography uses the alleyways, parking garages, bridges, tunnels, fire escapes, and rooftops of the urban environment as its stage.
‘Street’ doesn’t only refer to a physical context, but a realm of self-expression too. On the street is where people express their personal style and passion: fashion, dance, skateboarding, graffiti, motorbikes, basketball, tattoos. As such, the humans in these images are usually projecting confident energy, or flaunting the skills that give them cred within their tribe.
Realness is everything in this mode of photography. As the trend towards authentic imagery continues to reconfigure the notion of what ‘cool’ is, Street photography is possibly the best expression of that inherent rawness. In fact, if you’re using images like these for building your brand identity, you might want to consider degrading the crisp digital quality with some analogue texture – emulating the look of a glued-up poster, film photograph, or grunge album cover.
Classic brand images portray the kind of life we’d all like to be living. Nothing too luxurious or exotic, but a world where it’s perpetually late spring, the smell of coffee and freshly baked croissants lingers in the air, and your outfit is always freshly laundered and fits perfectly.
Images are typically considered Classic based on their classically stylish subject matter. Photography-wise, there’s rarely any visual trickery or distortion. The camera is more of a neutral observer than an expressive tool. One litmus test you could use, is asking yourself if the image in front of you was taken yesterday or 50 years ago. Any hesitation here might suggest that the photo you’re looking at is Classic.
The balance of elegance and minimalism, paired with the aspirational subject matter, attracts tastemakers to the Classic style like ants to jam. There does tend to be an overarching look and feel, orbiting around soft lighting, natural textures, and warm, grounded tones. If you’re going this route for your brand, you’ll want to get to grips with some basic image editing, to give your designs the perfect polish this style demands.
Straight lines and right angles have no place at all in the visual lexicon of Organic design. ‘Soft’, ‘curvaceous’, ‘natural’, and ‘irregular’ are words more likely to be associated with the delicious images at hand for this stylistic approach.
Natural texture is perhaps the single most defining characteristic of an Organic photo collection. This texture could be gentle and flowing – sand dunes, water, leafy shadows, and linen – or more austere, in the form of crystals, jagged rocks, palm leaf blades, or tree branches. Regardless, there’s an ever-present tactility: these design images appeal to our sense of touch. Similarly,color palettes are defined by the grounded tones of objects we can hold in our hands: terracotta, eggshell, sand, stone, bone...
Abstract natural textures make wonderful backgrounds for your Organic graphic style. When people feature in Organic photos, they are almost always located in the outdoor environment, interacting with or entranced by Mother Earth’s magnificence. The natural world isn’t depicted, so much as it is celebrated. Particularly strong images can read like haikus, glorifying the eternal beauty of nature by focusing on one tiny aspect of it.
Luxury is all about lifestyle – more particularly, the type of lifestyle that so many us can only (and regularly do) dream of. To develop a mystique of rarity when building a Luxury brand, these businesses end up creating worlds in which their product or service lives – and more often than not, this is a world of pure fantasy. A world of tropical villas, 16th century palaces, Rolls Royce Phantoms, and penthouse apartments with enough space to park them inside.
As with Organic imagery, there’s a big emphasis on texture… but here the intention is to associate materiality with value, the idea that – if you look close enough – some things are objectively better than others. Behold the visual allure of ruby-red velvet, Cabernet Franc in a crystal glass, the coolth of Italian marble, the heft of a gold plated fountain pen, and imagine what it would feel like to touch them, to hold them, to be there…
You don’t need to produce a particularly expensive product in order to tap into this brand strategy of aspiration. Luxury imagery is, more generally, an assurance of premium quality. Whether your Luxury imagery is focused more on physical products, or a lifestyle, the aim is consistent: creating an illusion of perfection.
The act of photography is subject to the same quality control. These branding images are very deliberately composed, lit, and edited, as though the final photograph ought to be considered a luxury item itself. Needless to say, when people do feature in Luxury images, their hair, skin, tailoring, make-up, and adornments, are impeccable to the point of being unattainable, in order to justify their existence in this fantasy realm.
Corporate design images are primarily focused on two things: business on the go, and the artefacts of the corporate world. In the first category, dynamic interactions between people lend a sense of humanity to a world that revolves around numbers, data, documents, and charts. It’s important for brands like these to make their content relatable, and remind us that there are human beings to help us navigate the choppy seas of adulting. They can also demonstrate work ethic – a sense that their business is constantly in action, in order to serve customers better.
The trappings of the Corporate world can be aspirational, an invitation to imagine what wealth and success might look and feel like: the leather and mahogany office chair, the tailored suit, the gold watch, the cufflinks, the speed boat. More tastefully restrained than Luxury brands, Corporate styling still paints a very alluring picture of what the company might help you achieve in the long term.
Corporate-style brands also frequently (and purposefully) conjure a sense of authority and professionalism through urban environments reserved for the productive and the successful: stunning penthouse offices, enormous boardrooms, exclusive restaurants, the back of a luxury sedan. Architectural images of skyscrapers are particularly popular, perhaps as a metaphor for the ladder of success: the higher up you work, the higher up you are.
“Ooooh that’s pretty!” is a very common response to Elegant photography. A sense of soft, rich femininity prevails, making it well-suited to building a brand that’s geared towards female consumers. Tastefully restrained without being Minimalist, the compositions are neither stark nor complex – scenes are layered with depth, warmth, and abundance.
Beauty is paramount in Elegant photography, and that applies to every object in the frame. Nothing in the composition is random or incidental, although there’s often a purposeful ruffle of imperfection, to offset any sense of being contrived. Whether your subject matter is a bowl of fruit, a perfume bottle, or a ballerina, the goal is to elevate them to something extraordinary; something from the heavenly realm.
Echoing the Organic sentiment, nature does feature quite strongly in Elegant design images. But rather than abstract texture being the drawcard, here the viewer is more likely to admire the forms of nature; the focused perspective of a still-life painter admiring a vase of peonies. There’s an inherent idea that nothing is more elegant than the perfection of nature.
As we mentioned when discussing the Modern graphic style, the term ’Modern’ doesn’t really mean ‘of the here and now’ as much as it references a particular aesthetic sensibility that developed in the mid-20th century – ideals that are still very much in play today. As such, the best photographs for building a Modern brand identity would be very graphic, and quite geometric in their composition. Photographers drawn to this approach seek out shapes in the urban environment, and use these as the basis for dynamic, visually interesting compositions.
Color? Well, you could take it or leave it in the Modern style. In color, the palettes tend to be limited and neutral; drawn from the materials of our constructed world – steel, concrete, carbon fibre. If you’re inclined towards going full monochrome, this is a good style to work within. When you start adding graphics or fonts to your branding images, explore the timeless pairing of a vivid primary tone on a colorless background, for some guaranteed POP!
Human beings are of course the other counterpoint to the stark, lifeless geometry that defines so much of the Modern aesthetic. In fact, it’s this exact human/architecture contrast that can make Modern photography so interesting to look at: warm/cold, dynamic/static, organic/rigid. These oppositions make the design images visually compelling, and offer pause to consider our place in the modern world we've built.
Creative Picture Editing
If you’re in a position to have your own professional photos taken and edited for you, that’s always first prize. This route isn’t cheap, of course. You might reserve a shoot like that for an important new product launch, or a brand collaboration. But to create content regularly (without forking out cash) it makes sense to use stock imagery wherever possible.
However, just because it’s stock, doesn’t mean it has to be standard. Never settle for ordinary, is our advice.
Over has the same photo editing tools as most professional design software: the ability to tweak exposure, contrast, warmth, saturation, color balance, and so on. It’s a really easy interface to navigate in order to give your images that little extra bit of polish, or to make them more in line with your style.
But there’s an even easier way to give stock imagery a customized look and feel - quite literally just a swipe ‘n tap away. Over has a set of custom photo filters that we’ve pre-programmed with edits to look brilliant across a range of scenarios: Golden Hour, Urban, Landscape, and Monochrome. You can also moderate the intensity of the filter for subtle tweaks.
Take a look:
Going beyond basics, Over has some incredibly powerful and easy-to-use photo editing tools that, combined with our 70 000+ graphics, can make the mundane magical. We have some ideas – with step-by-step tutorial videos – to show you how you can take a regular old photograph, and infuse it with the style and character of your brand. Whether it’s a stock photo, or a snap on your phone, there are some super simple techniques to elevate your brand’s images from meh to WOW!
And you can do it all yourself. In minutes.
Here’s an example of an image we found on Unsplash. It’s the kind of photo you could probably take with your phone. Not bad at all… but very safe, and not particularly memorable.
With Over’s photo editor tool, you could reinvent this photo with your own unique flavor, built upon the foundations of your graphic style. Now the design image becomes an asset, something uniquely yours. It’s an expression of your brand’s style, attitude, and personality. It breathes life into your story and, done right, it just looks way cooler.
Here are 5 step-by-step creative image editing tutorials for you to try out for yourself:
Collage is a trend that just won't go away – it simply keeps evolving into new styles. This approach lets you transform stock imagery into something magical, and unique to your brand. It's super simple and really fun to to play around with this technique in Over.
In this short tutorial, we'll show you exactly how to add graphics to your images, and arrange layers to create artistic, eye-catching content. Once you know these basics, there's no limit to what you can create!
Multiple Exposure Photography
Multiple exposure photography is just so interesting and beautiful to look at – it's no surprise how popular it's become as a design trend in recent years. As complex as it might seem, it's pretty easy to get this look in Over. You don't need a fancy camera, just a working knowledge of our incredible Blend tool... and a willingness to experiment.
We'll show you exactly how the process works in this video. With the fundamental concept under your belt, there's no limit to how creative you can get with this style. Why not give your brand a distinct visual identity with a surreal feel?
Analogue Film Look
Giving your digital photos an analogue 'film photo' look and feel is a simple and effective way to infuse them with warmth, nostalgia, authenticity, and visual intrigue. It's also super on-trend, and is guaranteed to make your brand's imagery stand out from the crowd.
In this short video, we'll show you how to add grain, light leaks, and film frames to your regular old images, and make them magical. With Over's bottomless graphics and powerful editing tools, you can get the analogue film look in minutes!
Illustration on Photography
Adding illustrations, doodles, stickers, and other fun graphics to your photos makes the playful and eye-catching. And getting this look couldn't be simpler in Over. We have thousands of cute, playful, quirky, colorful, sketchy graphics you can add to your images with a single tap.
Here we'll show you how to select graphics, add them to your canvas, arrange layers, and mask your graphics to add a sense of depth, as they interact with your photo.
The 'Duotone' effect is a super impactful editing technique that reduces your images to two vivid colors, for a very punchy and surreal visual style. It's s guaranteed attention-grabber, and enables you to take free photographs in Over, and transform them into unique design assets for your own brand.
The technique is simpler than you might imagine, and really just involves getting familiar with the Blend tool in Over. In this short tutorial video we'll walk you through it step-by-step, and show you how to create your unique color combinations.