What’s Trending in Marketing Photography for 2017

Posted by Tammy on June 15, 2017

So you’ve got an ad, flier, or social media post deadline coming up, and you’re looking for that killer image to call out to your audience. But what does that look like? It’s a question that many marketers like you have asked. And from “the chosen,” trends emerge to help us stay current.

So to help you with what’s hot right now, lets take a quick look back at what was Hot in 2016, and what is Hot in 2017.


In 2016, we saw a huge emphasis on people connecting with community, and genuine moments. Posed studio photos that screamed of “stock photo” were already long gone. People had gotten so good at tuning them out they became white noise. So what were the stand outs that embodied the opposite of staged and fake? We saw a few ways it manifested in photography: the return of flash photography, the return of film, body art and neon haze.

Flash photography, easily identified by its bright light, hot spots and harsh shadows, also brings that quality of “in the moment.” It feels authentic, even when it’s completely staged because it gives the impression that there wasn’t time to stage it.

Film, identified by its analog and grainy quality, saw a resurgence. With so many instagram filters being used for everyday photos, the audience cast a vote for enhanced reality. Photographers were called back to the traditional media of film to provide a truly authentic version of the “filtered” digital images.

Body art made its way into mainstream in a big way. Tattoos were flaunted instead of covered up, and reflected the growing acceptance of body art in society. While not seen much in photos in the corporate world, they still made their way into many other ad media.

Neon Haze was everywhere. This technique of turning sharp colorful photos of the here and now into neon versions reminiscent of decades old polaroids became prevalent. Its appeal can probably be attributed to Instagram’s influence, but its popularity may be because it functioned so well on websites. These images were bright and colorful and, at the same time, websites could take advantage of these photo’s low contrast to easily place legible type on top of them.


So now that we’re smack dab in the middle of 2017, let’s take a look at what trends persist, and what has taken their place. After all, while trends never last forever, some have a knack for sticking around.

In 2017, we are still riding the wave of authenticity. Which is no surprise. Millennials are currently the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, as well as in America in general, so the topics that speak to them are going to influence the language marketers need to use today.

Body art is going strong. Bold expressions of individuality… right-on. It’ll be interesting to see if body art  starts making its way into photos in a corporate setting. But at this point, everyday people in everyday activities are fair game.

Newer Tech is popping up in images. Laptops are still ok, but tablets and smart phones are where it’s at. Remember when I mentioned Millennials as the biggest group of people looking at your marketing efforts? They conduct business on laptops, but they also conduct business on their smartphones, and I don’t mean phone calls. Photos that mirror their lives resonate with them, and make you look like you are up with the times.

Real world places become the setting for convincing authenticity. Whether in a built environment like a restaurant, bar or home, or against a natural backdrop of forests, gardens or beaches, real is in. You’ll also notice the people in these photos behave naturally and appropriately for their setting.

Alternative Points of View (POV). We are already seeing more birds-eye views thanks to drones. But we’re also seeing more first person POV images—walking in on a surprise birthday party; mountain biking on a wooded trail; holding hands with the love of one’s life in a romantic setting. With the rise of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), we’ll continue to see more of these alternative POV shots to mirror advances in technology.

Social commentary is also trending this year. This is where you’ll see a range from subtle to extremely bold. Brands are taking a risk in revealing where they stand on social issues because their customers, especially Millennials, care about where you stand. Whether it’s a message of tolerance, diversity, or breaking away from traditional roles, a surge of socially charged topics are making their way into the images we see on all channels.

We’re not even half way through 2017. There’s still half a year to witness new shifts… and I’ll be watching.

While this list is nowhere near comprehensive, these are areas I’ve been following. If you are interested in a more comprehensive trend report, large stock photo houses like Getty and Stocksy usually prepare yearly trend forecast reports based on their search data.

Tammy Deng is an Art Director at Total Spectrum Advertising – and an ace photographer to boot. She is also a skilled client mind reader who has a habit of nailing concepts and ideas the first time and then knocking them out of the park.

The Secrets of Successful Brand Positioning Statements

A brand positioning statement – a one- or two-sentence statement that clearly defines how you want your target market to perceive your brand – is meant to be used as a filter for making decisions about your brand’s marketing activities. If you study those that are successful, you’ll see that they share some common attributes:


contain four key elements – While there are a few different commonly used templates for creating them, successful brand positioning statements all include definitions of the market and target audience, a brand promise (a benefit for your target market) and the “reason to believe” that your organization can deliver on this brand promise.

are narrowly focused – Your brand positioning statement is about how you want to position your brand to your best target audience, not all of your target audiences. This means one target, one promise, and just one or two “reasons to believe” to back up the promise. This promise is based on your one best, most relevant benefit – the one that hits the sweet spot of something that your brand does best, that members of your target audience really want, that you do better than your competitor. In the digital age you really need a short form brand positioning as well as a long form. The short form is for limited space – single page ads, digital banners, etc. The long form serves as the inspiration for more detailed content such as white papers, case studies, videos, brochures.

present the emotional benefit – Your brand promise will communicate a benefit that your brand offers. Try to take this up a notch by going from a rational benefit (i.e. what customers will get) to an emotional benefit (i.e. how getting that benefit will make them feel). Why? Because as neuroscience has shown, most decisions are ultimately emotion-driven.

provide excellent & relevant reasons to believe – Your one or two “reasons to believe” need to be spot on. For example, say your company is a single-source supply chain provider for data centers, and your promise has to do with speed. Two good “reasons to believe” are your global sourcing abilities and your extremely fast processes. The fact that your organization has lower overhead than the industry norm, however, is not relevant to the “speed” promise.

are written for an internal audience – This is not an elevator pitch or mission statement. It’s a statement about who you are and who you want to be. As such, brand positioning statements can be long (in order to provide a precise definition of the target market), and often are not pretty.

are sustainable – In addition to being relevant to the audience, successful brand positioning statements are also clear, defensible and true to the brand’s core character.

A successful brand positioning statement will produce a clear image of what sets your brand apart from the competition for a particular segment of the market, and provide clarity and focus for your marketing efforts.


If you need help in this area give us a call. As a full-service marketing agency, we have the expertise you need.

Planning Your Lead Nurturing Campaign

The days when prospects had to rely on your sales people to educate them about your offering are gone. Today the average buyer will gather and sift through 65 to 90 percent of their decision-making information before their first contact with your sales force. Then they’ll contact your firm to either ask further questions or complete the sale.

The benefits of lead nurturing

For considered purchases, having quality content to nurture prospects through the sales cycle – and, hopefully, change or shape their perspectives – has become vital.

With lead nurturing you can educate prospects about their options, show them how to prioritize their needs, and guide them to view the market and evaluation criteria in a way that positions your solution as the best solution. Then you can give them the “ammunition” they need to “sell” your solution to others in their organization. Your goal is to ensure that when prospects are finally ready to buy, you’ll be both top-of-mind and the top choice.

Three Stages of The Buying Process

The first step in planning your lead nurturing campaign is mapping content to the stages of the buying process. Not only do people need different information at different times, each target audience and buyer persona may have unique information needs as well.


  • Information Needs: Education about the market/field/industry in general.
  • Types of Content: Whitepapers, ebooks, tip sheets, checklists, how-to videos, introductory webinars, podcasts


  • Information Needs: Information about how your company in particular can solve their needs. What makes your solutions superior? What makes your company better? What do others have to say about what you’re offering?
  • Types of Content: Product webinars, case studies, samples, manuals, FAQs, data sheets, demo videos, podcasts, PowerPoint presentations, testimonials, reviews, buying guides, polls/surveys, ROI calculators


  • Information Needs: Information that will answer any lingering questions, overcome any final objections, and show prospects that they are making the right decision.
  • Types of Content: Free trials, live demos, consultations, advanced webinars, estimates, coupons, testimonials


As you work through the content mapping process, think about the logical steps that members of each buyer persona are likely to take as they move from awareness to evaluation to purchase. What information will they need to move from one stage to the next? What content assets do you already have that can be deployed at those stages, and what do you need to create?

Stay relevant to ensure one touch leads to another

To keep prospects from opting out of your lead nurturing list, you must plan your campaign in a way that makes them want to keep engaging with you. Provide valuable content that they can’t get elsewhere, that helps them evaluate their options. Deliver this content at the right point in the buying process. And use a variety of content types in order to cater to the different learning styles that people have.

Need help creating a lead nurturing campaign that works? Give us a call. We’re here for you.

Is It Time for a Rebrand?

Your brand encompasses everything that your target audience thinks it knows and understands about your offering. As such, it can be a significant asset for your organization. Unfortunately, because buyers often disregard a brand in seconds, if your brand is not projecting the right image or communicating the right message, it can also be holding you back.

When should you consider rebranding?

Things change, and sometimes your brand has to change to remain relevant. But rebranding is usually a time-consuming and expensive undertaking. There must be a strong business case for the enterprise-wide benefits that it will bring.

That said, there are many situations that warrant considering rebranding. These include:

  • Your target audience’s needs and desires have changed. Your current branding isn’t broad enough to encompass the changes you must make to meet these new needs.
  • You’re losing market share. Your brand no longer reflects a competitive advantage.
  • Your current brand is looking dated. The perception is that you’re no longer relevant in your marketplace.
  • You’ve changed your strategic focus or fundamentally changed who you are or what you offer. Now there’s a misalignment between your brand and your business strategy, goals, priorities or mission.
  • You want to diversify your audience. You need a new branding that will resonate with these people.
  • You’ve experienced a PR disaster. Your current brand’s reputation has been irreparably harmed.

What are the potential benefits of rebranding?

A successful rebrand is a strategic growth accelerator that opens new doors for your organization. As such, it can increase sales by:

  • Giving you a competitive advantage
  • Broadening your appeal
  • Attracting new audiences
  • Transforming perceptions
  • Making your brand relevant
  • Streamlining your identity
  • Reflecting changes in company size, market position and technological innovation
  • Increasing employee engagement

You need to do a thorough cost/benefit analysis

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that a new brand will bring any of these potential benefits, which is why rebranding is not a decision to take lightly. A rebrand can be a boon for your organization, but only if it’s truly needed and done well. We’re all familiar with the disaster stories of companies that undertook very expensive rebranding efforts that were so poorly received that they had to be immediately rolled back!

As you’re evaluating your options, be sure to ask some important questions, such as:

  • Does this warrant the cost?
  • Is there truly a need, or could we accomplish our goals through other measures?
  • What strategic goals do we have that cannot be supported by our current brand?
  • How is our current brand limiting our growth?
  • How much positive brand equity will we lose by rebranding?
  • What are the potential risks and costs of not rebranding?

Need help making the rebranding decision? Give us a call. We’ve been down this road many times, and we can help you take a hard look at whether the business case pencils out or not.

Website Design Trends: Out with the Old & In with the New

Website design has come a long way in the past 20 years, and it continues to change and evolve over time. Here’s a roundup of the design trends that we’ve been seeing…what’s trending out, what’s becoming increasingly popular, and the reasoning behind it all.

Out: Static Design / Mobile Versions

In: Responsive Design

Why: Remember when most people accessed the web through their desktop or laptop computers? Back then organizations would either create separate “mobile versions” of their site, or simply write off smart phone and tablet users altogether. Today 64% of American adults own a smartphone, and organizations cannot afford to ignore their needs. Responsive design, which optimizes the viewing experience across a wide range of devices, has become the new standard.

Out: Clicking

In: Scrolling

Why: As more people access websites using (mouse-less) smart phones and tablets, “fat finger syndrome” makes clicking cumbersome. Today’s popular “endless scrolling” approach creates a better experience for mobile users. As an added bonus, scrolling sites usually load faster, too.

Out: Flat Design

In: Semi-Flat Design

Why: Flat design is a minimalist approach that strips design of all fluff and frills, such as gradients, shadows and textures. As such flat design uses bold colors, simple typography and simple shapes. But it’s very…well…flat. As part of the backlash against this, many designers are now using what’s known as “semi-flat” or “almost-flat” design. While still eliminating the clutter, semi-flat design gives some elements a little depth and dimension, in order provide a clean look and feel with a bit of a flair. 

Out: Generic-Looking Stock Photos

In: Large High-Quality Images

Why: This is really the convergence of two trends. First, many designers are moving towards the use of large images in either the foreground or the background. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words – and many of today’s site visitors are not interested in doing a lot of reading. The second trend is that people are simply getting tired of seeing generic stock photos. Bold, original images that reflect the brand’s personality are therefore trending in instead.

Out: Complicated Designs

In: Minimalist Approach

Why: This design trend is also tied in with the trend towards designing for mobile devices. After all, cluttered or fussy sites just don’t render well on a four-inch screen! Consequently, “less is more” seems to be the new mantra. Excess graphics, unnecessary sidebars and submenus, and other non-essential elements are either hidden or eliminated altogether.

Out: Disorganized Content Hierarchy

In: Tile-style Layouts

Why: Although tile-style layouts, like what is seen on Pinterest, are not for every content type, this design trend is continuing to gain in popularity. Tiles work well in responsive designs, and can provide a simple and very visual way for visitors to browse through and find the information they need.



If your website not mobile responsive or is in need of a “face lift” contact us. We have the expertise to develop a website that represents your company well.