Emotive Branding: Banking the value of considered photography

A few weeks ago, en route to a client meeting, I spotted a billboard that made me stop in my tracks. So much so, that I felt the need to capture it on my iPhone. Minutes later, I met up with my colleague and commented how impressed I had been with this advert. She and I have an uncanny ability to like the same things but even I was a little surprised to hear that she had done the same thing, and had snapped the same poster.

What brand was this poster advertising? A bank. One of the least visually sexy types of organisations around. So what was it that made this advert so special?

In our daily life, we are overwhelmed by pictures. Pictures in the press, in ads, on our Facebook pages, on our phones. It’s a well touted statistic, but over 10% of pictures ever taken, were done so in the last 12 months. That’s a lot of pictures. We share pictures to tell complex stories, to stimulate our senses, to create desire – even to find partners and friends. We’re good at understanding pictures and how they affect us. Yet this thought is all too rarely applied to image use in conveying a sense of brand. The wonderful work produced for Lloyds is an exception.

Why?

Our brain psychologically processes photographs by seeing still images as being from the past. Conversely we see moving images as being in our present. Take an old black and white movie. We watch it and experience it as if it’s unfolding in front of us, yet we clearly know this not to be the case. But when the actor wistfully looks at an old snap in the scene, we immediately sense it’s from their past. It’s an idea that has been considered and written about by considerably greater intellects than mine. (Check out Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida if you fancy knowing more). And that’s how our memories are ‘catalogued’. A heady mix of the senses topped with a visual ‘still’ to identify it from other memories.

When Lloyds Bank rebranded, they needed to do so more than just to update and refresh a tired visual identity. They needed to find a space in the hearts and minds of a cynical UK population, exhausted of stories of greed and impropriety coming from the banking sector. Emotive branding that could cut through it all. And I’m not talking about Howard from the Halifax.

The Lloyds adverts are emotive branding at the highest level. The images are non-specific, yet highly evocative. These aren’t images that have to tell some complicated narrative or rely on an uncharismatic sports star to shine light where it’s so dark. These are mental snapshots of non-specific moments that we all identify with. The young girl playing in the meadows, the dog rolling in the long grass, the child obscured by her playful butterfly wings to name a few. Not thousands of images, just a dozen beautifully considered subjects that wake a sense deep inside the viewer. A stirring of a memory that says to me, “we were there with you…We are part of your story.” And with the words, ‘Your Time Matters’, Lloyds establishes an exceptional emotional connection from deep within me – and yes, I almost believe that my life does matter to them.

InsightLaurie Griffiths