Harnessing the Power of Visuals to Strengthen your Brand

Raise your hand if you’ve had this experience: you visit your girl crush’s website and immediately swoon because everything feels so right — the colors, the photos, her message — it all looks so wonderful and put together.

That’s her brand, and it’s working. It’s making you feel at home. Brands are hard to get right, but when it’s right, it feels so good… can I get an amen!?

We all want to have a powerful, clear and swoon worthy brand experience and consistent and cohesive visuals will help you get there. Today I’m sharing three ways visuals can strengthen your brand and some takeaways you can implement today.

1. Visuals Make Connection Easier

A great photograph will go a long way in helping you connect with your audience, and trust me — people want to connect with you! They want to know what you are all about. The best way to do that is to put a face with a name, show them who you are, and tell them your story. I know this sounds terrifying to some people, myself included (!), but it is a must if you want to make real connections.

The situation is the same if you sell physical products too. Take a look at the two images below. Both images are clean and professional, but which one of these mugs do you want to BUY?

I don’t know about you but I’m buying the one with the coffee because I want that to be my morning!

Showing your products in a setting where people can visualize using them creates a greater desire to buy and a greater connection with your business. Your kitchen doesn’t have to look like this to want this mug. What you are drawn to is the message of the photo that says “this is a good morning.”


  • Make sure there is a photo of you on your about page. No excuses, just do it.

  • Take some behind the scenes photos of yourself while you are working and add them into your social media communications. People respond to authenticity. They don’t have to be perfect!

  • If you have a product-based business consider getting professional photos taken or stage a scene that shows your products in action. I have some tips on setting this up and getting the light right on my blog.   

2. Visuals Guide Communication

When people look at a website or newsletter their eyes are immediately drawn to visual elements first, sometimes even before the headline! Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that we can stop stressing about writing the perfect headline (just kidding, headlines are still important).

Let’s do a quick test to see how this works. Take note of where your eyes go when you look at the image below. (If you already looked at the photo, try closing your eyes for a 10 seconds and then looking at the image.)

If you’re like me, your eyes started in the top left corner near the top of the image and went straight to the image on the left before jumping down to the image on the right.

If you were looking at these two web pages individually the example on the left would grab your attention with the image and lead your eye down to the text below. If you were looking at the page on the right your eye would skip the text and go straight to the end of the page without reading the content.    

Since this is the first thing people are seeing it is important that the photo or graphic you are using sends the right message. This may sound obvious but in general you want your images to relate to what you are talking about.


  • Move your images to the top of your pages or content areas, this creates a start here signal for your users.

  • Use images that pertain to your subject matter. I know it’s hard to find a photo for every situation. In this case maybe it’s time to schedule a photo shoot or to purchase some stock photography. You can also ask a photographer to use an image, but ALWAYS remember to give credit!

3. Cohesive Visuals Set the Tone and Mood

Remember those sites you have a brand crush on? This is probably because their imagery and design are cohesive. The colors, the tone, the mood and the message are all working together. Photography can be used to evoke particular emotions without using any words, even photos of the same subject matter can feel remarkably different.

Here is an example of two images of magnolia blossoms. These were taken minutes apart and of the same tree. How do these images make you feel?

To me the image on the left feels delicate and happy and the one on the right feels strong and powerful. If a photo is the first thing people are going to see make sure it communicates the personality and emotion of your brand. Done correctly the tone and mood of your imagery can set a perfect stage for your message.


  • Consider how you want your brand feel to a new user and look for images that evoke those emotions.

  • Use images that coordinate with your brand colors – they do not have to match perfectly! The goal is to look cohesive not matchy-matchy.



Cara Rufenacht is a Pittsburgh based photographer. She specializes in custom brand photography for small business owners and wedding photography. Cara also spends a considerable amount of time trying to grow vegetables in her concrete backyard while drinking a lot of coffee. Find out more about her small business photography at cararufenachtcreative.com.