Rethinking Your Company’s Visual Brand Part 2 – Investing in Better Imagery

Last week, we delved into why visual branding is important in helping your life science company stand out from the crowd to attract audiences such as investors and potential talent. We also provided a few tips on how to start thinking about your company’s science and approach differently so that you could create a style that is all your own.

With Part 2 of this series, we want to help provide resources and inspiration to up your imagery game. To start, let’s pick on this cell stock image some more:

Biotech’s favorite cell image is back. (Source: iStock)

This image is the perfect representation of what’s wrong with the images life science companies tend to use on their website.

  • It uses the overused biotech color palette (blues/greens)
  • It’s generic and can be used to represent multiple different cell types and situations. Cancer? Sure. Cell therapy? Right on.
  • It’s cheap/free and often appears on the top of cell stock image searches

It’s not a bad stock image at all, mind you, but it certainly doesn’t leave an impact. It’s like redesigning your living room with neutral, monochromatic colors – it’s pleasant to look at, but it’s not memorable.

Let’s explore a few ways to help you up your imagery game.

Go Past Page 1 of Your Image Search

Finding just the right stock image can be a surprising time suck, so it’s no wonder that many folks select something off of the first page of their image search and go with it. Why would you spend precious time raking through images when you could be catching up on emails or reading a scientific article instead?

The problem is that everyone thinks the same way, meaning that so many companies end up with similar branding and imagery. In this case, it pays to take the time to do a bit of sleuthing to see what other imagery is out there on iStock and Adobe Stock.

Setting aside even 15 minutes to do a deep dive can yield impactful results. As you search, I also recommend putting any potential good images on a mood board so that you can go back later and take a look with a more critical eye or send around to colleagues for their opinion. This can be as simple as throwing watermarked images into a PowerPoint slide.

When doing your search, remember too that once you purchase the license for an image, you likely have creative liberties when it comes to photoshopping the colors to match your branding, so don’t get hung up on the image not being quite right.

Use Your Own Imagery

If you do any type of fluorescence microscopy or other imaging work, you’re in luck! You likely have some awe-inspiring images that would be great to integrate into your brand design. Even a “failed” imaging experiment can still be insanely beautiful, so be open to the possibilities.

Lean on the Experts

Resources such as iStock are great, but keep in mind that they are generic stock image repositories. You’ll likely come across gems such as scientists pipetting without a tip or someone sticking their nose right up to a blue-colored flask to take a whiff. 

Science Photo Library is a fantastic resource for more science-focused stock imagery and videos, meaning you have to do less wading through the garbage to find an accurate image that speaks to you. 

What’s more, Science Photo Library’s team can work directly with you to help find just the right image for your needs. If you find an image that you love that doesn’t quite fit, they’ll also help commission the artist to potentially create an original image for you. 

While the images themselves are a bit pricier than what you find on more general stock sites, they’ll no doubt help your brand “wow” your audiences.

Hire a Medical Illustrator to Create Something Truly Personalized

Certified medical illustrators are like wizards – they’re able to understand multiple different scientific disciplines and know-how to dig into research papers and databases to get just the information they need to create an illustration that is impactful. They work closely with your company to talk through potential concepts and get the details just right. If you have the budget and aren’t on a super crunch timeline, hiring a medical illustrator is definitely one of the best ways to create an image that precisely matches your company’s color palette and style.

Beyond doing a Google search or asking colleagues for recommendations, you can also check out a SciArt community such as the Lifeology Slack channel, where illustrators at all levels and styles are available to help with your needs.

A Few Favorite Branding Examples

It takes work and dedication to create a visual brand that sings, but the efforts pay off to create something that truly speaks to your company and your culture, helping to catch the eyes of potential talent. 

Below are just a few examples of life science companies, both in the BioHealth Capital Region and beyond, that have impactful visual brands. Some are eclectic and some are more conservative, but all speak to the personality of the company.

  • Arcellx: Arcellx is a Gaithersburg-based company that recently underwent a corporate rebrand. The blue and purple color palette ties in nicely with the “Dreamers” tagline and imagery, and you’ll notice that all photos have a subtle purple/blue overly that matches the brand
  • Remix Therapeutics: This Boston-based company wasn’t afraid to be unconventional, utilizing a vibrant, colorful color palette and 90s-esque hero image treatment to pack a punch as soon as you enter their webpage. 
  • Arrakis Therapeutics: This company takes the 2D structure of RNA and integrates it with various design elements on the website. The mountain imagery ties in with the idea of going on an expedition to find new therapies, which is also fitting with the company name itself
  • Denali Therapeutics: Speaking of mountains, Denali also keeps to the theme of its namesake, the Denali mountain in Alaska. This branding is much more subtle compared to some of the other examples above, but is still effective and unique in helping Denali stand out.
  • CreyonBio: This website has a very playful style, utilizing custom animations and stylistic orange scribbles to “draw” the simplistic, yet powerful hero images. The illustration on their approach page also has this same feel.