What makes a Branded Headshot better? Add more emotion to your brand


It’s Part one of my three-part special on what makes a branded headshot better for your business. This time we are looking at how to add more emotion to your brand.

Last week we got things started on What makes a Branded Headshot better for business with an introduction tip on how to maximise your brand powers by getting the most out of your creative team.

Brand Power


So let’s flip the screen now, and I’m gonna start doodling to show you how you can make sure that your brand is as powerful as it should be, and you’re gonna be in the very best position to be able to debrief your next branded headshots photographer. This is a doodling task, so I invite you to doodle along with me. I love to use doodling to help me get out my ideas and jog my mind so I can think deeper.


We’re gonna be using three frameworks today to play on. All of them combined can help make your business feel a lot more emotional, and therefore, will have the next branded headshot working like a charm for you.

  • So the first framework, to give you a quick introduction, is a scale of emotions, and I’m gonna be presenting that with a line of where people “gives a monkeys”.
  • The next one is the five human senses, sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.
  • And then I’m going to be topping all of that off with the marketing four P’s, or you would’ve heard the phrase probably in business. But the four P’s are based on price, product, promotion, and place. And it’s as old as the hills, but I find it really helps.
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This is Valerie and Marg.

add more emotion to your brand
  • They have a partnership set up and they do financial planning for female entrepreneurs.
  • They met back when they both worked together in a big financial auditing company.
  • They’re very best friends and they decided to both quit and go out on their own when they noticed that the senior management team was being laid off during the financial dip of 2008.


So they’ve been in business for quite a while now. Some of the things that they have given to me as their branding problems are based on some of the things I have been told in real life. They are now very ready to get some headshots done and they’re ready to make them branded.


So using our scale of emotion than with monkey here, here are their prompts:

We want to smile in every headshot. We want them to think that we are really happy and dead friendly.

Valerie & Marg (in unison)

Valerie & Marg (in unison)

Now, what does monkey think about that? How much of a monkeys do you care if somebody’s smiling in all of their shots? Deeply love or meh? I’m gonna go with meh really. If you’re really smiley and happy in every single photo I think the actual result of that is somebody’s just gonna think that you’re not really that authentic. So let’s move on to the next one:

We really like the colour pink.

Valerie & Marg (again… In Unison)

Valerie & Marg (again… In Unison)

Yeah that’s nice, I don’t really know why though, so maybe I like pink as well or maybe I dislike pink so you’re gonna get some emotional response from me but I’m not really “giving much of a monkeys”, I’ll be honest.

Okay next prompt.

We wear clothes to work that feature the colour pink. So that makes us on brand, right?

Valerie & Marg

Valerie & Marg

This really riles me when people say this. Being ‘on brand’ is a lot to do with emotion and sure, you can play around with colours but because I don’t really know the emotional reason behind why you like pink, I don’t really care if you’ve got your colours on in your outfit. It doesn’t strike any emotional chord with me.

And finally, this is a favourite:

Let’s shoot in the city centre because that seems most professional.

Passè Briefings

Passè Briefings

Does it? Why do you think that? I don’t really care if the cityscape of where you live is behind you. So I’m not really getting why you wanna do that so I’m just giving that a meh on the Scale of Emotions. So you can see that all of these prompts are not really highly emotional or divisive, so they’re all scoring under the line of giving monkeys.

add more emotion to your brand


Now when I’ve been briefed like this, I know I’m gonna have to get a little bit deeper to really learn a lot more about what the brand is about. So a great way to trigger this off with some clients is to involve the five human senses.

I might play this game on my own and present it back to the client. Sometimes I get the clients to do this on their own and then report back to me. Or you know, sometimes we just do it together over beers. So let’s work through these five senses.


What does your business taste like? I like to go really deep on this when I’m mood boarding for a client’s branded headshot. Taste can be about preferences so a client might need to like a set of things before they engage with your business.

So in Valerie and Marg’s case, they are appealing only to female entrepreneurs who are trying to juggle being a professional with running a household and sometimes a family. They already have a whole palette of taste that they can engage with to appeal to these people.

Or, it could just be a tongue taste, like that feeling you get when you put salt on your tongue. So for Valerie and Marg, we had a little bit of a conversation about this and they both revealed to me that they love to bake cakes and then eat them. They are self-confessed chocoholics and they both have really sweet teeth. So that’s something interesting to add into the mix.

Next up then, what does your product or service feel like to the touch?


A hugely evocative element often forgotten about when considering how to construct your brand is the physical sense of touch. It’s very tightly intertwined with your feelings and that’s what makes it so powerful. Valerie and Marg know that there is usually a feeling of stress and anxiety when their clients are dialling it in their emotions about finances.

They want to be known for washing away all of that stress and anxiety and they wanna replace that with feelings of love and happy family nesting energy.


Now another way to tackle the sense of touch is to think about texture and it can also make it quite divisive so we ultimately want to be able to speak directly to your perfect client. So is there a texture that you can think of that your clients are gonna either love or hate? That instantly dials in with the right feeling you can add more emotion to your brand.


Moving on then, how does your business smell?

Now I’m a real geek when it comes to smelling things. I love the sense of smell. I really geek out with wine. I’m the weirdo who hangs out in the hair aisle, sniffing all the products before I pick one out and smell is also hugely emotional for a lot of people.


There’s a really good chance that you’ve never thought about how to pair smells with your business brands. So try to give it a go and deepen those emotions and evoke some proper feelings when it comes to an association. Sometimes people find it easier to reverse engineer it.

So here are some examples:

  • Love and contentment smells are always rooted in rose and lavender so I have a lot of rose and lavender smells in my bedroom ’cause it helps me fall off to sleep at night.
  • Or what about detoxification and purity smells? I love the smell of lemon and I am obsessed with anything called fresh linen. So that might be room fragrance or just simply doing the laundry always makes me feel really clean and pure. Moving on then to how your business sounds…


A lot of people forget this one. Now after a conversation with Valerie and Marg, they thought of some lingo words and they’re often things to do with babies and pregnancy or complaining about the mother in law and sounds of giggling.

Also, Marg came up with the idea of the sound of a deep exhale, like “ahhhhhh”, or the sound of money like a till ring or the sound of loose change. So just the idea of money and de-stress. Now should they go into the world of podcasting, I’d be telling them to add a more robust sound description into their branded guidelines document that we’re working on and they need to give that to the sound production team to make sure that their podcast sounds exactly like how they want their brand to be perceived. So finally then, a sight to add more emotion to your brand.


Probably the most obvious one to think about when you’re thinking about any kind of photography to compliment your business. This is where the colour side of things does come in. But a great way to get outside of your own preconceptions about your business is to go out there and ask some of your best, favourite clients to sum up how your business looks to them, with just three verbs or adjectives.


You can do this just on a DM or a quick text message and I sometimes give this test to clients to explore and see if there’s any disconnect. Sometimes a client thinks that they’re coming off to their clients in a certain way but actually when we go and ask their clients, it’s very different.

We can work on plugging that gap to make things a lot more smooth with the headshots when we know that information. Now all of this might seem a little bit woo-woo or a little bit weird but I promise you when you get more sensory, you’re able to look outside of your business, really regard it, observe it, and then ultimately you’re gonna be able to understand it so much better from an objective stance.

So that’s it from me until next week on how to add more emotion to your brand, in part two where we’re gonna be looking at how to hone in all of your new creative ideas. Until then though, I want you to go out, look, sniff, and taste and touch and add more emotion to your brand. MWAH!


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