What is a Hero Image? Why use one?

What is a Hero Image? Why use one?

In graphic design, the concept of using a hero image came along well before websites stared using them. But they are an incredibly effective tool in whatever medium you’re using to broadcast your message. I’m not referring literally to a super hero photo like atop this post, but a very large image relating to your message. Designers have been using these – predominately in magazine advertising – for over decades. So why is that?

Well, it comes down to one word – contrast.

In a sea of clutter, be it online or off, capturing the reader’s attention is becoming more and more difficult. So the use of one large image will cause the reader to pause or “rest”, and then give them the go ahead to read the page – because they now have a starting point. They’re comfortable enough now to keep reading. And let’s face it, if we can capture prospects attention AND keep them reading, they may just finish the piece and click on the call to action. Engagement with an ad, brochure or website is done in three parts. Capture with contrast, continue reading with comfort, and click on the call to action.

But should you just use any big honkin’ image you can find? No, absolutely not. The image must not only be relevant to your brand or to your message, it must resonate with your reader and have some emotion to it. People like to see themselves in photos, and it must “speak” to them. Click here to read another post about choosing stock photography.

So take a look at the hero image we have on our home page at Synergy Design. We sourced the puddle jumping girl from the the stock site Stocksy.com after hours of searching for just the right image. Yes, hours. We wanted a large hero image to speak to several points about branding (since we’re a branding agency). You can read the full blog here about that, but the image we chose speaks to “determination and defiance”, and because “something big is about to happen.” And that of course sounds like branding to us.

So don’t be afraid to be a hero and use one large image in your layout. Create that contrast and capture more readers. Even Apple does it – but pffttt, what do they know about branding? And don’t be afraid to ask your designer, your creative agency or your photographer for help. We all know a thing or two about images.

Greg Carmichael
Greg Carmichael
greg@synergydesign.ca

Greg is the Managing Director of Synergy Design, a creative branding agency in Streetsville (Mississauga), just outside of Toronto. Greg leads a talented team that creates effective marketing collateral for print and online, and he ensures their clients have a great experience working with them. To learn more, visit ca.linkedin.com/in/gregcarmichaelsynergydesign/en