How Compelling Visual Content Activates Audience Engagement

  • Categories:

    Creative, Photography, Work, Brand Strategy

  • Date:

    September 21, 2023

How Compelling Visual Content Activates Audience Engagement

Creative Photography Work Brand Strategy

Using still and motion photography in concert helps brands create immersive marketing campaigns that stand out from the competition.

From social media videos to magazine spreads and everything in between, original visual content gives brands an ownable way to connect with their target audiences on a deeper level. Given that 75% of online shoppers make their purchasing decisions based on product photography, compelling, consistent brand imagery is more important than ever.

When Wray Ward works with clients to develop a visually driven marketing campaign, we first consider people’s natural craving for connection and how to integrate it into a brand’s identity through images and video. This, in turn, allows us to build a narrative that drives the audience toward the desired outcome.

“Consumers encounter so much media on a daily basis — and it continues to grow exponentially, year after year,” said John Roberts, Wray Ward’s chief creative officer. “Creating and maintaining consistency with the imagery presented across the entire audience journey leads to a tighter story for the brand.”

While every client and campaign are objectively unique, we always build our game plan against specific guidelines:

  • Key insight: What nuggets of information are we using to orient the strategic direction of the campaign?

  • Desired outcome: What action do we want our target audience to take, and how can we influence it through the story the campaign will tell?

  • Primary message: If our target audience takes away one thing from the campaign, what is it? What emotional response are we trying to evoke?

  • Photography approach: How will the visual elements of the campaign connect with each other and our audience while also standing out from the competition?

“We’re not control freaks. We’re consistency freaks.”

That’s a world-class quote from John — and it’s the mantra our Creative team follows to accomplish the objectives noted above. We strive for consistency in our preparation and execution to ensure we’re keeping the story tight and delivering a final product that’s reflective of the brand strategy.

Planning a client photo shoot is truly a team sport. From tapping marketing research and audience personas to developing mood boards, the planning period is our practice field. It’s our time to create and refine our visual approach and strategize on how to design the sets — obsessing over all the details upfront. This helps ensure that when the whistle blows and the clock starts, we’re capturing everything needed from the shoot to deliver against our client’s marketing objectives and goals.

“By the time we’re on location, we’ve established our approach to how we light the set, the way we plan to use focus and how we want to tonally use color,” said Justin Smith, Wray Ward’s motion and photography director. “The audience may not realize exactly why a video or photo speaks to them … it just does. That’s because we’ve considered all of the things they care about and curated a world to reflect it.”

By creating and capturing these intentional scenarios through still and motion photography, we arm our clients with a powerful strategy to reach their audiences.

As one example, let’s look at how we put together the right game plan to help Sunbrella® tell its story.

Creating Four Seasons in One Shoot

We intended for this campaign to illustrate not only that Sunbrella can stand up to the weather but also that Sunbrella’s wide range of premium fabrics lets customers enjoy their outdoor spaces without stress or concern for their fabric.

To deliver visual assets that could accomplish these goals, we first established our campaign guidelines:

  • Key insight: A top reason for not spending more on outdoor furniture is that the weather is likely to ruin it.

  • Desired outcome: Our goal is for consumers to seek out Sunbrella at retail, without compromise. We want consumers to invest in the product and trust that the weather will not ruin it.

  • Primary message: Sunbrella fabric is made to withstand the weather no matter the conditions, so you can rest easy knowing your outdoor space is ready to enjoy, year after year.

  • Photography approach: During the photo shoot, we captured all imagery in the presence of outdoor fabric’s (perceived) nemesis: WEATHER.

Given that Sunbrella needed a wide range of still and motion assets showing their products outdoors, we divided the two-day shoot into scenarios that would maximize this opportunity.

In distinct sets, we used various color stories, patterns and textures to bring four different visions of outdoor spaces to life. Moreover, we used each set to depict a different season, providing Sunbrella with visual assets that could be used in their marketing promotions throughout the year.

All sets and shots were approached with a “fabric-first” mentality. That’s to say, we covered each scene with wide shots, without talent. Then, we captured those scenes with talent, from multiple angles — progressively getting closer and closer. We used additional pieces of furniture, cushions and pillows to create small color stories or scenes. At times, we included models or pets for a touch of life. We also constructed, and then deconstructed, some sets one frame at a time to allow for animated GIFs.

“Beyond capturing images on the larger seasonal sets, our location provided a diverse range of architectural and landscaping elements,” said Smith. “These allowed us to style additional, smaller vignettes to demonstrate how Sunbrella fabrics offer versatile designs to bring our customers’ visions to life.”

As a result, we created a rich library of assets that Sunbrella can use across all media, showcasing how their fabrics are made to withstand not just Mother Nature but every lifestyle — from active households and families to pets, social gatherings and everything in between.

Intrigued? Keep reading to see how we created an image-driven campaign to help change the perception of Sunbrella as primarily an outdoor fabric.

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