Brand Communication

Last week we were considering how best to brand ourselves as photographers and have looked at some of the design theory behind different well-known brands and logos including Cadbury’s, Coca Cola, Apple, Pepsi and Nike. Some are good and work well, while others, especially the London 2012 Olympics, are muddled, have no consistency and clearly look like they were designed by a committee.

One of the brands I particularly like is Guinness. While I don’t drink Guinness, I do like their adverts and poster campaigns.


The white writing on a black background clearly reflect the product. The stylised gold harp and date emphasise the quality of the product and its trustworthiness. The harp is based on a 14th Century harp that is preserved in Trinity College Dublin and reassures purchasers of the product’s Irishness. The harp is also featured on Irish coins (although facing the opposite direction) which again says that this is a quality, Irish product.

The font used for the word Guinness, designed by Bruce Hobbs in the 1960s, is a solid, serif font and the uniformity of the letters tells me that it is a reliable product, still the same as it always was!

Sometimes, the Arthur Guinness signature is used too: another mark of the quality of the product and the pride that is taken in its production.

More information about the brand, advertising and history is available on the Guinness website.

Another brand I like is Volkswagon. Almost all of the cars I have owned have been Volkswagon, some newer models than others, but all have been reliable, easy to maintain and great fun to drive.

RayleighVWShow 12

Clearly the logo is a ‘V’ over a ‘W’ in a circle and currently used on a blue background. Like the original cars, the logo is simple, solid, straightforward, reliable and dependable. It has changed very little since it was designed via an office competition in the 1930s and the font used in adverts and literature has remained the same for many many years.

The logo is currently used on a blue background which is often interpreted as being a trustworthy colour and one that stands for stability, loyalty, security and science. The brands current ‘Think Blue‘ campaign is linking the colour blue with ecology and the environment and with kindness, thoughtfulness and concern.

Mostly though, I love the old Volkswagon adverts!

One of the brands I have little time for is Red Bull.

Red Bull Logo

The two red bulls going head to head look aggressive and dangerous. The red, outlined in yellow and against a yellow sun is quite hard to look at and when it is also shown against a blue and white check background is even worse.

Red is a great colour to depict energy and passion and as Red Bull is an energy drink I can see why they used it. Yellow is often used to infer sunshine, happiness and freshness but also can be interpreted as arrogance. So I see this as an aggressive and arrogant brand that I don’t want to have anything to do with.

I guess that is ok as the marketers at Red Bull are not really targeting their product at people in my demographic. It is a young brand and clearly appeals to young people, particularly young men.

So for my own branding I think I really need to think about a couple of key qualities that I want the people I am targeting to understand about me and think about how I might portray that using a very simple design. Using my name or my signature is a good way to say that I am proud of the photographs that I produce and give my customers the assurance that they will be of a good standard. Colour is very important too. Many photographers use black and or white on their websites and publications which does give an image of elegance and sophistication but depending on the field and style of photography I choose perhaps there are other colours that might reinforce my brand.