My fascination for branding stems from my photographic background. Yes, once upon a time, I pursued a career in the fine arts. What originally began with a passion for the still image shifted towards an all-encompassing enthusiasm for visual communication. I loved creating narratives with images and realized the importance of curation in order to reinforce the idea behind the narrative.
I recently came across an article from Fast Company titled "Domino’s Instagram Is Gross. That’s By Design" that caught my attention. Having been previously commissioned to shoot product photography, I thought it'd be interesting to analyze the strategy behind the less-than-perfect photographic aesthetic.
"The Domino’s feed is not appetizing by any objective measure. But if you look at it long enough, over enough time, the cadence of grotesqueness begins to sink in. The studio lighting and Photoshop-enhanced pepperoni of Papa John’s and Pizza Hut start to look like the culinary equivalent of a French manicure and a spray tan. Fake."
After reading the article and checking out the Domino's Instagram account (as well as, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, and Little Cesar's), it was obvious to see that Domino's was putting an emphasis on the food. Front and center was pizza. Just pizza. The same kind of pizza you'd be looking at if having it delivered from Domino's. From a branding perspective, the visual identity of their Instagram account, through the photos they curated, depicts transparency & highlights one of their core values - authenticity.
In the late 2000's, Domino's gained a reputation for horrible pizza. In fact, research showed that if consumers knew the pizza was Domino’s, they liked it less than if they just thought it was a random unbranded pizza.
After improving their pizza recipe, the head honchos at Domino's decided to rebrand the company by setting off on advertising that depicted their transparency - their Instagram platform being one of many channels. Their "We're Sorry for Sucking" campaign led to Domino’s went having a 9% share of the pizza restaurant market in 2009 to 15 percent in 2016.
The less-manufactured, natural looking photos serve as a collection of brand elements that come together to create their brand identity. Domino's acknowledges how bad their pizza was, and through this visual medium, they're saying: our pizza's improved and we have nothing to hide by falsifying how our pizza looks.
At the end of the day, branding's about story-telling. Humans have been communicating with stories since prehistoric times, so I'd say this is a pretty important concept for companies to understand - which also brings me to my closing tip for entrepeneurs: good photography and design is worth the money. I understand that there are insurmountable expenses when running a business, but don't be cheap when it comes to extensions of your brand (unless you're in Domino's position). Photography's just another way to tell a story.