Choosing, photographing or drawing images is fine, but things get a lot more complicated when you try to make them part of an identifiable branding scheme. Every client wants a set of images that stand out and are ‘theirs’, and that’s fair enough. But the challenge is how to do that without resorting to big logos all the time.

It helps if an identity scheme has a big idea in it that can be brought over into images. When Ravensbourne suggested a photo-shoot of their students for their prospectus and report, we immediately began to look for ways to avoid the obligatory ‘pics of students in the library’ that pepper the brochures of the world’s universities and colleges. Thankfully, we had persuaded them to adopt a scheme based on their new building’s outer skin, a tessellating tile pattern. So we cast and photographed a dozen students, then meticulously tessellated part of the images to match the overall style.

Other schemes have had similar linking ideas – for our work with Swanswell (a drug and alcohol rehabilitation service) we had developed an identity based on the ‘uncrumpling’ of their name, so we simply applied that thought to images.

Their relationships with families and loved ones often suffer as a result of their dependency. We were initially nervous about this visual approach – ‘crumpling’ sufferers to show the strain on their relationships with families and loved ones – but in testing, Swanswell’s clients were most drawn to this idea and it caused the most (positive) debate.

Sometimes it’s possible to theme an entire set of images, such as these: a suite of images for Parc de La Villette’s summer season where we took the grass of the park and used it to painstakingly create images, symbols, books, trousers and deckchairs.

It’s true that this level of detail and image quality takes time. And some money. Best to mention that at this point.

On certain occasions, taking images and changing their context can work well. For the charity Living Paintings who produced three-dimensional sculptures of art and objects for the blind to feel and understand art, we just re-photographed the artworks onΒ  easels to give them a dramatic set of images to work with.

One of our earliest examples of making imagery work hard for us was this poster (part of a set of six) designed for classrooms. Because the core information was essentially a little mundane, we wanted to find a way for the posters to illustrate storage in a ‘wrong’ way and fuel some quizzical classroom debate.

Sometimes the interplay between images and words can be very powerful: the image above for the Design Council imagines a museum case of the future, containing a fossilised nappy of the present.

The two photographic images above were also for the Design Council - designed to look beautifully ‘wrong' they were used to illustrate articles and web pages about ergonomics and interaction design respectively.

Sometimes photography is just a little too perfect, and just a simple two-colour illustration says it all.

Basic geometry can be surprisingly effective - this poster for a cider manufacturer works in two directions and show the ups and downs of cider drinking.

A graphic approach helped to make strong, powerful illustrations for these billboard posters designed for a special edition of Time Out themed around London as a republic.

But on occasion, it’s great to throw the kitchen sink at a problem – this lead image for Skate at Somerset House references Victorian silhouettes and dΓ©coupage to create an overwhelmingly festive Christmas scene.