Image editing is a growing field. Brands have incorporated online presence, visual storytelling, and daily touchpoint creation into their growth strategies. In this blog lets examine the Business-to-Business work in the Imaging Industry. From individual influencers to established product companies. Brands need a variety of audio-visual feed to keep their followers and customers engaged. These include photographs, videos, GIFs and “light” VFX work, etc. While inbuilt editors in Instagram, TikTok etc. and DIY photo-editing apps offer more functionalities than ever, brands often have specific, specialized needs or high volume requirements which rule out doing things inhouse. Enter the B2B Image Editor.
B2B vs. B2C Image editors
B2B image editors differ from B2C ones in a few key ways. Some of these are creative capabilities. While others have more to do with business management than creativity. The B2C image editing industry is awash with single editors, small companies, and tech companies that provide some very good software for DIYers. For some new entrepreneurs or small brands, this can be an attractive way to go. Especially if the decision maker has a good understanding of image editing and can afford to spend significant time to create finished images themselves or supervise the outsourcing vendor. However, for many new brands or entrepreneurs this can be quite a rabbit hole to go down!
On the other hand, B2B image editors can cater to a large number of industries, but generally call themselves specialists in a few based on years of expertise. A high quality B2B image editor is more than a professional capacity enhancer. It is a co-creation sounding board, consultant, and partner. For instance, B2B companies maintain proprietary databases detailing the work required for most types of image editing jobs, resulting in fast feedback about such jobs. What’s NOT in the databases is co-created as custom work.
B2B image editors typically also provide a great deal of sophistication in data handling, with multiple options to send single images and large batches through dedicated FTP servers, public Cloud, email, etc. Especially with larger service providers, clients should expect total workflow transparency including time taken per image, name of artist, disclosure of any proprietary tools, security protocols, etc. This helps clients with their own planning and builds reassurance about data privacy and pricing.
Matching client requirements with multi-level skillsets
Both the B2B and B2C image editing worlds are crowded with thousands of service providers. At one end are part-time individuals and mom & pop shops that do simple work like background removal. This space is getting disrupted with new AI tools. Individuals and brands with occasional requirements or less than 10 minimal editing-requirement photos a week should look into using such service providers and tools to pick what works for them.
As new brands grow, their image editing requirements progress to more than what Insta filters allow. For example, an emerging fashion brand might need 50-100 new images a month for its various online and offline channels. Typically these need to be created as variations from just 5-10 raw originals. This needs intermediate level skills like color correction shadow addition/removal etc. On the other hand, a smaller brand might also need high quality work like color correction or compositing. Perhaps on images featuring iconic models like movie stars, but the volume may be just a few images. Either way, the image editor requires several years’ experience to balance the work and the time spent on it. By this stage few individual graphic artists are available to do this kind of work. It is almost completely the domain of professional companies.
Established mid-sized brands in FMCG, Food & Beverage, Real Estate, and other B2C facing industries usually have well established workflows and partnerships with several service providers, based on niche expertise, price point, output capacity, etc. Established brands usually have well thought out look, lighting, size and workflow guidelines. This works perfectly for larger service providers like Manipal Digital. Depending on the volume, frequency, and variation.
Manipal Digital sets up either dedicated teams specifically trained for the client’s requirements, or creates a customized process using AI with “human in the loop” checks. At this level, the work is well categorized into simple, medium, hard, and custom work and typical industrial production techniques for efficiency, communication, transparency, quality, and cost control can be brought to bear. On the other hand, graphic artists often have the most fun working with mid-sized brands. Because they are open to new creative ideas. Their decision makers are more accessible, and open to more experimentation.
Large, iconic brands come with their own legacies. Not only do they have exacting quality standards, they also have precise creative guidelines. In many cases the brands have such loyal fan bases that everything from the product to the promotional material must achieve a certain feel. Large brands are often multi national companies with decision makers for each workflow based in a dozen different locations. Therefore, while work quality and experience are definitely required, the infrastructure setup is equally important.
A brand needs to know a familiar face is available at all times to resolve problems as they come up. In addition, the brand’s standards of partnership, fair play, transparency. As well as its values have to be respected by the image editing partner. This isn’t easy for most image editing companies to achieve, because it takes years of experience. A broad world view and culture of continuous learning, and deep pockets to innovate and differentiate. Manipal Digital is one of the few companies in the “million+” club- a select group of image editors which can process over a million high quality images a year.
A good B2B image editing service is built on the same principles as the brands it serves- high quality, consistency, fairness, transparency, and differentiated value creation. It requires a combined effort of creatives and business managers to build a company that creates value for its clients consistently in a fast changing world. It’s no wonder few companies get there, and those that do need to keep working hard to stay there!