Adobe Photoshop Lightroom™ contains the tools you need to improve your branded presence when you are presenting your photography to customers, students, peers or anyone else who sees your computer screen or Lightroom’s resultant output products. Whether in-person or online, you can use these varied options, along with your own logos, to create a unified, customized brand experience.
This article will show you various places where you can leverage your branding through the Lightroom interface and subsequent output. Though not designed as a how-to on each individual Lightroom operation it should give you an idea of what is capable with regards to branding from within Lightroom.
It starts with the application launch
When you click the Lightroom icon, the first thing you should see is the Lightroom Splash Screen. Did you know you can replace the default splash screen with a custom splash screen designed by you? Lightroom 5.x added the functionality to provide an alternate splash screen for your user experience. Your studio logo, signature, examples of your work and other elements are all fair game for introducing your brand to your customers. Let this be the first thing you, and potentially your customer see when sitting down to review your work.
The launch of Lightroom shown above features a custom designed splash screen. This screen, built in an image editor such as Adobe Photoshop (or in my case, CorelDraw), contains my business’ logos, my signature captured on a Wacom tablet, my ACP badge and the Lightroom icon. It tells the story of my presence as my company, my person and my affiliations. For the professional presenter such as myself, it is a great introduction opportunity.
To make a custom splash screen, create a graphic file in the PNG format that is 900×600 pixels in dimensions. Then, simply place the png file in the Splash Screen folder at the appropriate location for your platform.
Splash Screen folder locations:
Windows: Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Splash Screen\
Mac: Library\Application Support\Adobe\Lightroom\Splash Screen\
The Identity Plate
The Identity Plate, in its primary form, is to display, to the operator, or to any over-the-shoulder presence, a quick identifier of the catalog or the branding of the photographer. The area within the orange box is the identity plate area. Into it, you can place text, or in the case of branding, a graphic you’ve previously prepared. This incarnation of the Identity plate is somewhat limited in size (unlike its use in other modules within Lightroom- but more about that later).
Effective sizing to avoid cropping any elements is 46 pixels in height on PC or 57 pixels in height on Mac and half of your screen’s width in overall width. Without taking up too much room in the interface, this will give your logos the maximum space in to which to exist while allowing you room for text and other design elements. To use, design a PNG to be 46 or 57 pixels appropriately X 640-960 pixels (depending upon your monitor’s resolution and whether you run LR in full screen). This can be be built into an Identity Plate by accessing the Identity Plate Editor at Edit>Identity Plate Setup… on PC or at Lightroom>Identity Plate Setup… on the Mac. When you have finished and are happy with the result, be sure to save your customized Identity Plate for use in other modules in Lightroom.
Identity Plates are stored internal to the Lightroom Catalog and not available across catalogs. I keep the PNG graphics used to construct identity plates in a special folder called ID Plates located in the same folder as where the splash screen folder is stored. This way, they are readily available to all catalogs I might create and never become misplaced.
Notice too that the Module names in the Module Picker have been changed in font and color to be sympathetic to the logoed Identity Plate.
Here is an Adobe reference to information regarding the Identity Plate and Module Buttons for further information.
Panel End Marks
Oft overlooked are the panel end marks which occur at the bottom of each series of panels on the left and right hand sides of the Lightroom interface. A quick placement of a logo from your branding here can really finish off the interface making things more cohesive and professional.
The orange boxes above delineate the space for the panel end marks. The two marks shown are my logo exported at 152x152px saved as a PNG format. (That is the same graphic I use for my Apple Touch Icon – but more about that later). I reduced the opacity to 50% to subdue the graphic so that blends nicely into the background. Right-clicking in the Panel End Graphic area allows you to select a graphic to serve as a panel end mark.
Any graphic finding its way into the Panel End Mark folder will appear in this list provided it is the correct file format. Experiment with size. Sometimes the simplicity and size of a logo can affect is visual weight in the application. Here is the same logo presented at half the size with a little empty space on the top to make it stand off from the panels. Notice the increasingly unified appearance of the interface.
Maximum Panel widths govern the width of the graphic which may be used. On HD-Resolution displays, you can use graphics as wide as 380 pixels or so. Hi-DPI monitors like the Retina displays can accommodate graphics in the 700 pixel-wide neighborhood. But, as you can see from above, bigger isn’t always better.
One of the new compositional aides that was provided in Lightroom 4 was the use of a Layout Overlay. Accessed through the View>Layout Overlay> menu, it allows you to place an image over any image you are viewing in Loupe or Develop to allow you to evaluate it in the context of an overlaid graphic. Think a magazine cover or baseball trading card graphic to visualize an example usage.
In this case, I’ve chosen my PNG file used in my Identity Plate and captured it showing the Opacity and Matte Controls (activated by holding the [CTRL/CMD]). It can be dragged anywhere on your image and resized.
Whether you would ever use this is debatable but it is one more example of how you can extend your branding – even to casual browsing of the files in Library or Develop. Think of it as a compositional guide or an ever-present watermark. Or just turn it off when it annoys you too much!
The watermark is one of those love-hate topics and we aren’t here to debate their appropriateness or effectiveness today. (Thankfully!) We are here to show how they fit into an integrated branding strategy within Lightroom. People watermark for many reasons: to prevent theft, to attribute work, to identify process-states (i.e. Proof, Sample, etc.), and in this discussion, to market themselves.
Using the watermark editor, I’ve created a watermark which uses a similarly designed PNG file as my Identity Plate uses.
One Caveat: The PNG file in the Watermark needs to be much larger than the PNG used in the Identity Plate proper-especially if the file is designed to be output at high resolution or is to be printed. The screen real estate afforded the interface’s identity plate simply isn’t scalable to typical output sizes. The PNG used in the Watermark was 1800px on the long side to ensure it could survive enlargement to a 36 inch print at 300 ppi.
Above is the watermarked image output for web use through Lightroom’s export module. It scales nicely and maintains our branding. It could be smaller, yes. It could be more transparent, our course. The point is that as you develop your brand identity, you have many ways to express it, building its presence and making it instantly recognizable to your clientele.
Many things you post online can have have a watermark. Why not extend your brand identity to all your postings and build that logo recognition?
Slideshow, Print, Web and Book
Each of these modules in Lightroom can leverage your branding. Some of them can do this multiple ways. The first way three of the output modules can leverage your branding was discussed at length in the previous section: Watermarks. Three modules (exception for Book) allow you to watermark your images on creation of a Slideshow (or video of a slideshow), Prints on paper, and Images within a Web gallery – both as thumbnails and as larger views of the images.
In addition to watermarking images, it is also possible to add your Saved Identity Plate(s) to every image in a show. In the following example, a watermark (a signature in this case), and the Identity Plate (a logo and name) combine to create the branding.
An Intro and Ending Slide can also be specified as part of the show and each can contain a distinct identity plate.
Leveraging Watermarks, Identity Plates on Images and Identity Plates on Intro and Ending screens give you ample opportunity to present your brand in different and memorable ways.
In addition to watermarking any image as it goes to print, the Print Module, similarly to the Slide Show Module, allows for the placement of an Identity Plate. This can be placed either inside or outside of the image boundary. In the example show, a custom-created PNG version of our logo was created with the company name included. It uses similar design elements, fonts and color schemes to sympathize with the existing branding. I find I create many of these to handle custom shows, titles, triptychs, and many other uses.
The Web Module leverages Watermarks and Identity Plates to create custom branding. Demonstrating here in Matthew Campagna’s new 2014 HTML Gallery from The Turning Gate, you see individual images watermarked and the entire web gallery covered with an Identity Plate.
Individual gallery items can extend the brand identification sympathy.
Many gallery templates allow for you to customize the gallery template structure to include a favorite icon or even an Apple Touch Icon file. This allows people who bookmark your galleries – especially on touch devices – to see an extension of your branding in the bookmarked shortcut to your website.
In this Safari from iPad Screen Grab, you can see the icon labeled Favs of 2013 extends branding to bookmarks made on devices by your clients! When your Lightroom gallery is published to the web or delivered in email, it will have the appropriate icon contained within. (Note: instructions for implementing this icon inclusion vary by gallery and not all galleries have this feature.)
Books lack any Identity Plate or Watermark functionality but do offer a different solution to branding. Now, whether I would actually use this or not is a completely different question. Regardless…
It is possible, using the new ability to import your PNG files into you’re your Lightroom Catalog, to include an image as a page background. Create your logo as a PNG (full book page size) and save it as a file and import that file into your Lightroom catalog. There isn’t much control over placement and size but you can fade opacity and control whether or not it is a global addition to all pages or limited to appearance on a single page.
For good or ill, Slideshow module similarly allows you to watermark an image as a slide background. Although I have yet to find an effective use of this technique with branding materials, it does allow for a nice faded background over which your slide images will float.
Personalization of your Lightroom workspace and output workflow give you many opportunities to include your brand. Not all places may be necessary or even appropriate to your purpose but surely, doing nothing will grow no brand recognition. I have to ask at this point… are you tired of seeing my logo yet?
One thing that is necessary in branding is to have a strategy. Strategy starts with the components. You need a branding scheme including typefaces, color schemes, logos (in a variety of form formats from long and skinny to tall and skinny and everything in between. Consistency of usage is another forgotten hallmark of effective branding. Once you’ve developed all this, you can tweak Lightroom into a brand promoting beast. Simplicity and consistency should be your mantra as you seek to market yourself from within and without the Lightroom interface.
Oh, and some good logo creation/manipulation software or even-better, a paid graphic designer isn’t a bad idea either.
Rikk Flohr © 2014
PS. If I forgot any marketing opportunities within the Lightroom interface… drop me a line. I mean, I didn’t even start to cover the metadata strategies…