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The New Professional Casual Portrait

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Search Google for ”corporate portrait” and you’ll see an awful lot blue suits, ¼ angles, canvas backgrounds, and plastic smiles. It’s unfortunate, in our opinion, because the value of a photo is to let people see you, but so many of these portraits portray images that lack any humanity.

 

For most of us, it’s like our old school photos. Boys wear a white shirt and a tie with dark slacks, and girls where a white blouse and dark skirt. When it was your turn, they sat you on a “posing stool”, then proceeded to cock your head and chin at such severe angles it literally hurt. They assured us it looked great, and then six months later in the school yearbook we see the worst portraits of us ever taken!

 

Well times are changing. And we at Newman Grace are trying our best to lead the charge. We are on a mission to eliminate the “dead” portrait.

 

With many of our clients coming from the professional services sectors (law, accounting, and business advisors), we know that one of the most important marketing tasks is to “humanize” our clients. Some would argue that the average attorney does NOT have blood coursing through his or her veins, nor does their CPA have a personality. And while we chuckle at those stereotypes, as most stereotypes do, these come from some true experiences.

 

To combat this, we have developed a new style of portrait. We call it “professional casual”. In the same way “business casual” has redefined business apparel, we hope “professional casual” redefines corporate portraits.

 

Professional casual is characterized by a professional who looks smart (clothing-wise), well put together, but not stuffy. For men, this may mean a coat but no tie. It might mean a shirt and tie, but no coat. We’re in Los Angeles, so that means professionals working in entertainment may wear a t-shirt under a sport coat, or even a longsleeve shirt untucked.

 

For women, it can be almost anything except a business suit. A skirt and blouse, a dress and jacket, or slacks and a top. Colors are not only “okay”, they are encouraged.

 

Another trend is to use the environment more. Hallways, office balconies, windows, and lobbies make great settings for professional casual shots.

 

Among our rules are the following. First, the “look” needs to represent the person. How do they really look? People that never wear suits don’t photograph well in suits. Next, not “stuffy” setups. If someone is sitting at their desk, they CANNOT have their hands folded perfectly on the desk. Maybe they’re leaning back, maybe standing, maybe even sitting on the edge of the desk. And NO attorneys in front of book cases holding law books! And finally, alternative angles and lenses are okay. Show low looking up, wide angle, shallow depth of field, or in black and white.

 

The next time you are putting marketing materials together, or updating a website or brochure, consider a new take on portraits. I think you’ll like what you see!

Do Clients and Customers Like Your Marketing?

When Sally Field won her Oscar back in 1988, she proclaimed, “You like me, you really like me.” It wasn’t an ego thing, it was a revelation. She was sincerely surprised to see acceptance of her work as an actress. And in doing so, she continued to develop as an actress, and arguably one of the more recognizable actresses of our time.

How does that apply to advertising and marketing? It applies very directly!

Several research studies in the past decade have shined new light on the importance of “likeability” of advertisements. In one study in 2005 by Hermie, Lanckriet, Lansloot and Peeters, it was determined that up to 80% of an ad’s memorability is tied to it’s likeability.

Think about that…if they like you, they are more apt to remember you…and if they remember you, at least you’ve got a shot at making a sale.

In related research, Sutherland and Sylvester conducted research that positively links likeability and persuasion.

What can we all do to make advertising more likeable, and thereby more persuasive and more memorable? Erik du Plessis, in his book The Advertised Mind,  postulates a model called the COMMAP, which identifies six areas that can affect likeability.

These areas that affect likeability include:

  • Entertainment
  • Empathy
  • Relevant News
  • Familiarity
  • Confusion
  • Alienatio

It is important to note that the first three, entertainment, empathy, and relevant news, are things that we should strive for. Familiarity (defined by du Plessis as being over-saturated in the market, confusion, and alienation, are three things that we should reduce

Do people like your ads? Maybe it’s time you asked the question, “Do people like us?” Your ads might have something to do with the answer.