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Custom vs. stock photography: Which is right for you?

September 30, 2014 by Klaus
“Why would I want to do a custom photo shoot when I can access millions of good quality stock photos online?”

This common question is a valid one because it’s the truth – quality stock photography is readily accessible. So why spend the money on a custom photo shoot?

The answer isn’t a one-sized fits all kind of answer. To figure out which is best for your project, you need to ask yourself two questions:
• Is my message specific or generic?
• How wide is my distribution?

Hiring a photographer to do a custom photo shoot means that you are hiring the expertise of that photographer. He or she is briefed on your message and what you’re trying to achieve; and their job is to tie your key messages to new imagery. Custom photography is dynamic and what you get from a custom photo shoot should be pretty much exactly what you’re looking for. Why only pretty much? Because custom photography allows for the creativity of the photographer to shine through, opening the door to image possibilities that you may not have even thought of.

But if what you’re looking for is a generic photo to go with your more common or all-purpose message, then a stock image – where what you see is what you get – may be the more economical route.

However, there’s a catch to using a stock image. If your material is to be distributed nationally or even internationally, then you run the risk of the image you choose being chosen by another company for their marketing message. This has happened in the past, including in 2004, when competitors Dell and Gateway both used the same stock image of a college student in their back to school ads.

When you use a stock image, you have two purchasing options – royalty-free and rights-managed. Royalty-free is a great option for small budget and small distribution because you pay for the rights to use an image forever. It does however mean that anyone else can also pay for the rights to use that image forever.

Rights-managed requires a bigger budget but allows you, and only you, to use your chosen image for any purpose as long as you have the rights to it. It offers an added protection against discovering that same image in someone else’s marketing material, but if you don’t renew your engagement at the end of the contract, the image goes back into stock circulation.

Custom photography costs more than the two stock image options but you and only you own the rights to all of the photos, forever. Depending on the assignment and the variables, a photographer may take 40 to 50 good shots to match your key messages, which means you have a pool of photos to choose from for other uses.

And if you amortize the cost of that one photo shoot over the multiple projects that could benefit from those photos, the cost is manageable and worthwhile.

Colour psychology 101: Understanding the power of colour

September 16, 2014 by Klaus
Colour and how it affects us permeates almost every aspect of our lives. And that’s because colour is powerful; it makes us feel emotions and it conveys meaning without the need for words. And as such, it is a powerful element in every brand.

By understanding colour psychology, you can send positive messages, encourage customer recognition, and even boost sales. Not understanding colour psychology, and choosing the wrong colours, can have the opposite effect.

For example, red is a strong colour; evoking feelings of love, passion, danger or energy. It’s often used in logo design to grip a viewer’s attention and has been known to make people hungry. It’s active, exciting and bold. Think that maybe Red Bull Energy Drink or Coca-Cola are trying to fit into that category?

Let’s look at another example; what do you think of when you see the colour green? It’s a restful and soothing colour that brings on feelings of life, growth, nature, money and freshness, making it, among other things, a go-to colour for companies wanting to portray themselves as eco-friendly. Whole Foods definitely fits that bill, but other companies such as Holiday Inn (restful) and the Body Shop (soothing) fit well into that colour definition.

But here’s where there’s a complication to colour psychology – colours have different meanings in different cultures. Yellow, for example, evokes feelings of happiness, hope and joy amongst Europeans but mourning amongst Egyptians. White is even trickier. In western culture, it reflects marriage and peace, but in eastern culture it reflects death, mourning and funerals.

Choosing the right colours means more than just understanding colour psychology in your region, it means understanding your audience. Colours can engage and persuade people but they can also turn people off.

With one exception though – when colour is related to specific shapes. How do you think sensibilities change when a specific colour is paired with a specific shape? We’ll dig deeper into the psychology of this dilemma in a future blog post.


We’ve greened our business – here’s some ideas for greening yours

September 02, 2014 by Klaus
Having a ‘green’ business means striving to have a positive impact on the environment and the community. It’s about developing and implementing business practices and strategies that go beyond what’s required and demonstrating a commitment to a healthy and sustainable future.

Businesses that haven’t already adopted principles, policies and practices that improve the quality of life for customers and employees may feel like they’re faced with a daunting task. But it doesn’t take much to build environmentally conscious practices into your day-to-day operations.

Here’s what we’ve done to go green.

1) Use less paper. Using as little paper as possible and being smart about the paper that’s needed reduces waste. Rather than printing project proofs for clients to review, we make every effort to email proofs as PDF files. Not only does this reduce our paper consumption by 85%, it also reduces our use of couriers by more than 95% – which is good for the trees and good for the air we breathe.

2) Commit to renewable energy. Making the transition to cleaner energy lightens the footprint on the planet. Our building is Bullfrog powered to underscore our commitment to reduce our environmental impact and support renewable energy projects.

3) Pull the plug. Electronics don’t need to be running all night long. We manage our electricity usage prudently by turning off everything we possibly can before leaving the office. It’s also a mindset we take home with us at night.

4) Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Recycling isn’t a chore when it’s as easy as throwing something in the garbage. Even though we’ve reduced our paper usage, we’re still vigilant recyclers; making sure everything ends up in its correct place.

Even though there’s always more that can be done, the most important thing is to be doing something; because doing something is better than going backwards or not moving at all.