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Find the right image for reaching out on digital channels
Images play a vital role in reaching your audience through digital channels. So what should you be thinking when choosing images? And how can you think outside the box and avoid choosing an image that simply regurgitates the contents of your text? Mattias Arell Räms of the digital content agency Curious Mind answers our questions and gives his suggestions.
Mattias Arell Räms Photo: Pernilla Pettersson
About Mattias Arell Räms and Curious Mind
Mattias Arell Räms is Art Director and Image Editor at the Swedish digital content agency Curious Mind. Curious Mind is unique in that their consultants work out of their customer’s site. In Mattias’ opinion, it’s a good way to get to know the customer and understand their needs.

Mattias, are there any particular challenges to choosing images for digital channels?
Apart from the format, I would say that your images need to relay information faster than in printed media. You often have very little time to capture the attention of your audience, which puts a lot of pressure on having clear images that convincingly relay your message.
How important is it to have the right image in social media?
Images are crucial in social media. We scroll quickly through and don’t always have time to read everything. When we see an image that captures our attention, we have a tendency to stop and really look at the message.

Images in social media have to be astonishing in some ways, but also relevant to the contents. Just think of successful advertising campaigns that have stopped us in our tracks. We have a lot of examples in Sweden, such as Delicato’s Nutrition Circle or WWF’s ad campaigns.

Another thing to take into consideration is that we generally consume social media on our mobile phones. This puts demands on your images. They shouldn’t be too complicated. The message should be clear – but not boring.
cai412-02223, Identical dogs panting together
Images in social media need to...
1. Be astonishing!
2. Be relevant
3. Be clear

Do you use images from image agencies?
Photo shoots take time and resources, so we almost always use images from agencies. When you use agencies, you can sketch out how things will look in advance. It’s also easy to exchange images that don’t fit in or add images when there are things missing.
Is there anything you need to consider when using image agencies?
You should consider who your potential audience is. Who are you hoping to reach? It is also important to determine the image you want to relay as the sender. How do you want to portray your organization, company or yourself?

It's also good to have a long-term plan for how you choose images, to have a particular style. It could be something as simple as always choosing images with blue backgrounds or that contain greenery.

Also remember to stay local. If your message is about life in the Nordic countries, it's better to choose Nordic images. Even if you don’t perceive it immediately, most images are culturally coded. Environments, clothing, hairstyles, furniture and body language. A lot of small things reveal where an image comes from.

If you’re considering choosing from the least expensive stock photos, remember that they are inexpensive because they are being sold to the entire world. Because they need to suit everyone, they are usually decoded to the point of saying nothing.

A good image communicates who you are as the sender. Therefore, it's important to spend a bit more to get really good images.

ima185444, Colorful drinks

How can you select interesting images and not only those that regurgitate the contents of your text?
That is an important question to avoid getting stuck in boring imagery. One way of getting around it is to try to dramatize the contents and think of what it would be like as a movie or TV series.

You could also think about your company's core values and attempt to find images that relay them. Try to portray the value of your service or product instead of showing a picture of it. I think a lot of people remember the Klarna campaigns that revolved around the concept of being “smooth”. Instead of showing a person shopping smoothly, they used images of melting ice cream and the like. It sparks interest and thought in the viewer.
What companies do you think are good at using images on digital channels?
Klarna is one example. I also liked the Swedish company Clas Ohlsson's style where they gave all products the same value. A paper clip and a drill were photographed the same size. IKEA also speaks successfully in images, showing everyday life with an exciting and humorous twist.

ima173234, Spiral staircase
Check list for choosing images
1. Don’t repeat the message of your text by showing an image of the same thing. Try to highlight what is unique in your message and for the sender.

2. Stay local! If it’s about life in the Nordic countries, it's better to choose Nordic images. Most images are culturally coded, even if it's not immediately obvious.

3. Find a red thread. When choosing a series of images, try to find their common denominator, such as a color or a recurring motif.
Photographers: Oscar Wettersten (ima161367), Pernilla Pettersson, Caiaimage (cai412-02223), Magnus Ragnvid (ima185444) and Karl Forsberg (ima173234).

The images in the newsletter were selected by Mattias Arell Räms and the red thread is dots/circles.
Read more from Johnér, here.