25 May 2023
Product Visualization as a Brand Enhancer
We all agree that the visuals of your product should be attractive. However, good product visualization goes beyond aesthetics or a beautiful photo alone. It is an integral part of your branding because, like a logo, tagline, or typography, it forms an essential building block for a strong brand. It serves as a visual translation of your brand promise, reflecting the character of your brand and contributing to your image. This sounds logical, you might think. Yet, in practice, there is still much to be gained.
By not making product visualization an integral part of your brand, you miss an opportunity to entice and build a consistent and strong brand. Every image, no matter how small, contributes to the overall experience. There should be a strong underlying concept that ensures consistency and recognition. Only then can you lay a powerful foundation for growth and customer loyalty. Ruud Temmink (creative director) and Martin Wiersma (technology director) of Zuiderlicht – part of Total Design – advocate for the best possible visualization of products. “We create a well-thought-out world in which the brand can live its own life. The interesting thing about an integrated approach is that all these brands actually lead you to different techniques. From detailed photography and storytelling to 3D rendering. Because we are always looking for the form that adds the most value to the total brand experience of that specific brand.” They share four learnings based on practical cases.
1. Choose your perspective carefully
For a medical-technical product like a brace, the emphasis is often placed on the condition it is intended for or its instrumental properties: support, safety, and security. But everyone in the market does that. “Thinking differently pays off,” says Temmink. “For Push Braces, we decided to take a distinctive approach. We gave meaning to their tagline, which focuses on the positive impact of the brand on the user’s life: Push for Freedom. You’re not buying a brace; you’re buying freedom of movement during and after an injury. That forms the basis of the visual concept. The clothing of the models, their actions, and expressions, everything emphasizes their freedom of movement. The locations exude openness and space. Light also plays an important role. To capture the exact same feeling in both photography and video, we produce everything simultaneously and according to the same lighting plan.” The result is a product visualization that tells a unique brand story and stands out in the market.
2. Explore the problem you can solve
In addition to the aesthetic aspect, the informative aspect of product visualization also influences the brand experience. What does the target audience need to be enticed or convinced? Wiersma explains how asking that question led to a 3D viewer for tile manufacturer Mosa: “Lighting and perspective are crucial to how you experience tiles. A photo or rendering only shows one viewpoint. This means that an architect cannot distinguish one beige tile from another, while their appearance is significantly different in reality. Using the 3D viewer, we make all the specks, grains, and sparkles visible to the architect without them having to visit a showroom. They can rotate an individual tile or a tiled surface under a light source, giving them a realistic preview. An additional advantage is that they now only need to request 2 samples instead of 20.” So, it’s a win-win-win situation for Mosa, the architect, and the environment. Furthermore, this product visualization, as a digital service, contributes to brand engagement and the positioning of Mosa.
The same applies to the Mosa Pattern Generator developed by Zuiderlicht, as confirmed by Sandra Wigmans of SATIJNplus architects: “The generator helps me to try out different patterns and contrasts. Then I download the final design and incorporate it into my presentation. This way, I have already convinced numerous clients of the intended end result. Finally, this tool calculates how to combine different tile sizes in a way that fits perfectly within a wall or floor, and tells you exactly which products you need. It saves me a lot of work that I don’t have to do myself!”
3. Consider the right framing
FORMANI creates high-end architectural hardware in collaboration with leading designers. With the motto “Obsessed with details,” we summarize everything that the brand represents. It serves as the touchstone for all brand elements, including the visualization of the products. “Previously, reference imagery took precedence,” says Temmink. “There was more focus on the work of designers and interior architects than on the product itself. FORMANI deserved to be more prominently showcased. The fact that the products are perfectly finished down to the smallest detail led to the idea of creating hero shots, photographing the door handles as if they were jewelry. This way, we highlight the craftsmanship and design details. Since the collection is constantly evolving and the existing product shots were inconsistent, we meticulously planned the photography down to the smallest details. From the exact angle and position to the lighting plan. This makes it easier to maintain the established line in the future. In addition, we visualized the design and manufacturing process to highlight the design character and the love invested in the products. The overall imagery now fully aligns with the brand and exudes “Obsessed with details.”
The exceptional brand presentation, which includes product visualization, did not go unnoticed in the design industry. It earned two Red Dot Design Awards, including a Best of the Best, and gold at the European Design Awards, among others. The market is also enthusiastic, as Pim Aarts, managing director of FORMANI, explains: “The content we create together with Zuiderlicht supports the marketing process. We find that both dealers, distributors, and agents, as well as architects, are happy to embrace our brand. Although it is difficult to measure the exact return on investment, we are convinced that our investment in the brand experience is crucial to our success.”
4. Let your product visuals evolve with your brand
Sometimes, the position of a product or brand changes due to new developments in the market. Take bricks, for example. While they were indispensable for construction in the past, they are now one of many facade materials that an architect can choose from. This requires a different brand and product presentation focused specifically on aesthetics, as we are about to roll out for manufacturer Rodruza. “Texture plays a significant role in an expressive brick facade,” Wiersma explains. “It’s the cracks, grains, and color nuances that give it character. Apart from the fact that it’s not feasible to create a mock-up of every product in every masonry bond, a photo alone doesn’t do justice to this. That’s why there is now a state-of-the-art 3D scanner shining in the Rodruza factory among the clay. More than 50,000 scans of bricks have been made to digitally capture them in the finest detail. These scans form the basic information for their online configurator, which gives architects a 100% realistic view of each brick based on texture mapping. It can be viewed as an individual product or in the context of a wall or facade. This online product experience enhances Rodruza’s position as an architectural brand.”
Take your advantage
When we build brands, we always include product visualization as an essential part. The two cannot be separated; they are inherently connected. So, don’t treat it as an afterthought but as a crucial component of your branding. This will lead to more successful and stronger brands.