Business and Operations
Editor’s Letter: January-February 2016
All in the optics
By Laura Aiken
Welcome to 2016, an odd number on paper considering the Y2K nerves of 1999 really don’t seem so long ago. But I won’t spend many words noting all that has changed since then, as its overwhelming nature has the sneaky ability to make one feel just a tad bit dated, depending where on the calendar your lifeline falls. That being said, there is one cultural shift worth pondering as we head into the new year: photography.
The word photography came into use in the 1830s, reports the Encyclopedia Britannica online, which also notes the word comes from the Greek term photos (“light”) and graphein (“to draw”). In 2016, the word “photography” feels clunky next to the likes of “selfie” and “pic.” Perhaps it is a reflection of the new speed at which images populate modern-day life. Photos flip through our lives like the pages of a hand drawn animation, merging into one cumulative selling point: lifestyle. We are all in the business of selling to the Instagram aesthetic, and everyone’s brand is, to some degree, a lifestyle brand. If the medium is the message, the dominating medium now seems to be the pixel pic.
Market researchers identified this visual eclipse as a trend to watch in our story on page 8. Images have powerful selling abilities beyond looking tempting. Consider the concept of a ‘cake smash,’ which now has many people wanting two cakes for their one-year-old’s impending birthday milestone, one of which is just for wrecking at a photo shoot. The Sears portrait has been taken up a notch or two, it’s fair to say, and that in part is due to platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook that provide a new kind of “keeping up with the Joneses” race for the most beautifully curated life. A 2011 study out of Cornell University suggested that Facebook can boost people’s self-esteem because it let’s them filter what they present to the world, making it more likely they will receive positive feedback.
The bakery industry is beautifully positioned for this proliferation of pics. It’s generally accepted that food is amongst the most photographed and shared things on visually oriented social media. This means that having an array of stunning images of your products is more important that ever before to your marketing arsenal. And it’s not just the product; it’s the illustration of the way it’s consumed. Your pictures are ads without words, and it’s worthwhile to ensure it’s a powerful message. Who is consuming your product? What does the table or background look like? What is the mood of the photo? What other images could you take that would tell the story of life in your bakery? The use of narrative is another trend that has been cropping up year after year. Creating a storyboard about your bakery could be a great way to communicate with your customers.
There are so many images of food out there right now that’s it’s easy to feel like yours blends in like a grain of wheat in a mill. It will take strategy and creativity to stand out, but rest assured your bakery is unique. They all are, because the individuals behind them are. It’s just a matter of finding your voice, and then turning it into a shareable, likable, and ultimately money-making picture.