ima226441, Coins stacked in piles

Our image of money
Money, money, money... Most of us probably see pictures of coins and banknotes every day, but in reality we rarely encounter them. How can we portray topics like personal finance and consumption in a way that is relevant and credible in a time when we are using less and less cash?

We see images of stacked coins, round piggy banks, exposed wallets and fans of banknotes in our news media and in the communications of our banks, insurance companies, pension companies, public authorities and political parties... There are many actors who have more reasons to communicate strongly about personal finance right now. The recession, interest rate rises, the energy crisis and the commodities crisis are all reasons to talk about money on a daily basis. But what is money to us today?
Our relationship with cash is changing
The use of cash is decreasing and if we use it, it is for preparedness in specific crisis situations. As a result, cash may evoke different associations and emotions than before.

In everyday life, our phones and debit cards are likely to be more realistic representatives of money. At the same time, new tools for payments and transfers are constantly emerging. Money now manifests itself in our actions, investments and spending rather than in the currency itself, which in turn implies a need for new motives.

For quick and easy communication, we as a society establish symbols that may represent a value, a meaning. Once they are well established, we are so used to them that we often do not question how well they represent their time. We use icons showing piggy banks and shopping trolleys to find information about Saving or Buying.

The icons are well established and therefore effective for quick and intuitive interpretation and action. There are therefore good functional reasons for the motifs. But what many of us may not think about is that the choice of motifs also says something about our brand: that we are easy going, everyday, or perhaps traditional, archaic, outdated.
Our choice of images affects how we are perceived
When we choose photographic images, it's even more important to think about the subject. The image doesn't just have a functional purpose, it should also say something about our message and brand.

Through a conscious choice of images, you can influence whether you are perceived as youthful or old-fashioned, rural or urban, individualistic or collective, simple or sophisticated, warm or cold. This in turn links to whether you are perceived as relevant or irrelevant to your target audience. It also ties in with your established brand identity, and contributes to a more reliable and credible whole.

Examples of brand-building images
Cold images
With a cooler light and a clearer individual focus, these images highlight the actions and focus of the individual rather than as part of a group. The cold tones contribute to an expression of mastery and control, a form of proud integrity.

This type of image often conveys an orderly, logical and intellectual character that promotes conscious and wise choices.
Warm images
These images use a documentary and authentic expression through moving structures that make them vivid and uncontrolled. The environments, clothes, characters and situations are familiar to everyday life and convey an obvious commonality between us humans. The lighting and colours are subdued, which calms the images down slightly and makes them warm.

This type of image often conveys a friendly, warm and social character that cherishes the security of everyday life.
More images on personal finance!
Many thanks to Karin Sandelin and Thierry Mortier for the collaboration on this article. As semioticians at Kantar Insights, Karin and Thierry guide many of our biggest brands, organisations and agencies in areas including imagery, to build strong and clear messages and brand identities.

Photographers: Plattform, Viktor Holm, Maskot Bildbyrå, Karl Forsberg, Plattform, Maskot Bildbyrå, Maskot Bildbyrå, Plattform and Plattform.