You’ve heard the expression a picture is worth a thousand words. Brand design experts know that’s particularly true when images of people are on your brand’s website (or other online places). Their body language says far more than any caption ever could.

What are the images you’ve chosen saying about the people in those photos; and consequentially, about your brand? Are they working to support your brand story, its message, and your brand’s values? Or are they undermining your attempts at conveying your brand story? Read on to learn more about supporting your brand design with images that display the proper body language.

Using Images to Support your Brand Design

Stock and royalty-free images of people are popular choices for adding personality to any brand’s website. Likewise, unique photographs, taken of you and your staff are also great ways to support personal branding efforts.

How will you know if those photographs are conveying the types of unspoken messages that will build your brand? A brand design expert will tell you that most of it has to do with a gut feeling – a built-in sense that most of us have about the messages sent by expressions and body postures. However, there are more scientific methods for determining if the images you’ve chosen are supporting your brand design efforts.

In short, follow your instincts when choosing photos. If an image seems wrong (or, at the least, incongruent), avoid using it. As a further measure of protection, take the following points into consideration:

  • Closed body language, like arms that are crossed in any way, indicates self-protection, an unwillingness to absorb information, and/or insecurity.
  • Pursed lips convey the same message as crossed arms, and should be avoided.
  • Tightly clenched hands or fists are indicators of stress and/or uneasiness. Hands should be relaxed, with thumbs (the power digits) evident.
  • Any smile should look genuine – the cheekbones should be pulled up, the eyes should be slightly squinted with the lids stretched horizontally, and the lips should look pliable and natural – not stiff. Some teeth should be visible.


  • If standing or sitting, legs that are tightly crossed or pressed together indicate self-protection. Legs should be slightly parted or crossed with the ankle on top of the knee.
  • Dress should match the type of clothing your ideal client might wear (i.e. professional, casual, sporty, etc.) and the person in the photo should be doing what you expect your clients to do (i.e. typing, dating, rock climbing, etc.).

Not every facial expression or piece of body language will be consciously detected by users, but it’s always a good idea to check with a brand design expert to ensure that your ‘models’ are conveying the right messages. Even if your target audience members aren’t trained in reading body language, their intuition is, and they may leave your website for a reason they can’t identify, but that is, nevertheless, discomfort-inducing.

Always remember that the images you choose will say one-thousand words to the people who matter the most. What will those words be? With our brand design advice, you now have the power to choose.

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