When it comes to having enough fresh images and footage in your brand library, the struggle is real. There’s constant demand and it’s hard to keep up. They’re being used across all your creative: your website, email campaigns, paid display, social media—you name it. If you know you need a refresh but you’re not sure where to start, here are the five things you should do first:

Do a brand gut check.
A photo shoot gives you the opportunity to think about your entire brand. Is your brand in a good place? Are you clear on the style of what you’re looking to capture? How do you want to represent your brand? Or is it time to kick things up a notch? 

It may be a good time to re-evaluate your brand guidelines if you’re questioning your overall look and feel. Get clarity there so that you have a clear plan before you start the process of building up your asset library. If it’s time to consider new photography and video directions, a good first step can be to seek out inspiration from other brands and create mood boards—so you can show your creative team (or agency) where you’d like to do some explorations for your brand.

These shots came from a multi-day, multi-location shoot for our client Telesign.

Use data for better decisions.
Do you have data to guide what you create? You want to create assets that move the needle with audiences, so you need to dig into what’s working and what’s not. Start by investigating the data you have from digital campaign testing—like in social media, display advertising, or even email campaigns. If you have an agency running that for you, great. If not, many platforms offer analytics that you can review for optimizing performance—like Google Analytics or Google AdWords. 

There’s a lot you can track and learn by looking through that data. For the purposes of shoot planning, start by checking out what types of images or videos get the best response from your target audience. Are they more likely to click when served product shots, people shots, still images, or video content? Take a look at how different types of shots and experiences perform on different channels, too. Maybe product shots work great in display ads but showing people interacting with your product works better for social. Leveraging your data to help guide the evolution of your asset library will ensure you’re investing in assets that will convert. 

Start with your wish list. Then talk to your teams.
We often hear, “Oh, I only need to capture a few images.” But that doesn’t always align with the needs of all of your teams and channels. A rough listing of your channels and estimating how many assets you need per channel can be a great start in creating realistic expectations. The next step is even more important: share it across your teams. For example, the social team may have very different needs from the rest of your marketing team—like creating unique animations, GIFs, or even badges to boost brand engagement. It’s good to connect with everyone to determine what’s nice-to-have and what’s a must-have asset. That way you can make sure you get enough images (and the right types of images) to have all your requirements covered.

Build your budget based on your plan.
Photo and video shoots can be a bit like buying a car—are you shopping for a Bentley or a Nissan? Both are valid and can get the job done, but knowing your budget guidelines can save a lot of time in finding the resources that will work for you and your budget.

What kind of photographer do you need? Is it someone with a full crew who can scout, style, pick up props, art direct, and shoot for your B-roll needs? Or is it a solo creator who shows up at the location you’ve set up, following the shot list, style, and direction that you’ve created for them? Will they do color correction and other prep work on selected images, or do you have internal resources that can handle the final assets? Or what about videographers—do you need them to storyboard and select music or voice talent before shooting, or will your team do that instead? 

These are a few of the headshots we captured for eBay’s global impact report and webpages.

Think about ways you can get the most bang for your buck, like choosing a versatile location where you can get multiple kinds of shots. Extending the time spent there might cost a little more, but you could get extra shots that could increase the lifespan of your library. More variety means you might not overuse them too quickly—postponing the need to do another shoot for a bit longer.

Prioritize what’s really important.
Got a little sticker shock? Saving money is 100% possible—but it’s all about prioritization. How hands-on can you or someone else on your team be? The more you can handle, the less you’ll ultimately pay to an external resource, but that also means taking internal resources off other important initiatives. Beyond coming up with the creative vision for the shoot, there’s a lot of legwork that goes into setting up a shoot. Finding available photographers, going through bids, creating shot lists, finding suitable (and affordable) locations, hiring actors, and buying props and costumes takes a lot of time up front. Sometimes it’s just better to hire an agency.

Even if budget is not a problem, finding a balance between stock and custom photography shot by your agency or freelance creative professionals can be a great solution. Listen, we love doing custom shoots as much as anyone does—and seeing those perfect images after weeks of planning and coordination feels amazing. (Pro tip: When you do a shoot, always be sure to capture some B-roll video—so you can have some fresh footage for later needs.) But a mix of stock and custom photography in your refreshed library is often a winning combination as long as they’re curated and styled to suit your brand look and feel.

Never fear—a good agency partner can help walk you through these steps and beyond. Be sure you’re working with an agency that has ample experience concepting, scouting, and art directing shoots—ranging from a single day of shooting in a single spot to multiple locations over a series of days. Our team is happy to help you, of course, and we’ve had the privilege of working with amazing photographers, videographers, producers, stylists, and editors that we can recommend. 

Reach out at hello@contrastdesignworks.com