STOCK IMAGES ARE NOT DOING YOUR BRAND ANY FAVORS.
In this article, I'd like to discuss the use of stock photography in marketing and advertising. Don't get me wrong, stock imagery has its place…These types of images work great as temporary place holders when you’re in the design phase of your company’s brand new website. However, using stock imagery to market and advertise your brand is the equivalent to saying “we’re just like everyone else.” Using stock imagery can also visually communicate that you don’t value your brand. If you don’t value your brand, why would anyone else?
Stock images are cheap for a reason.
A large majority of the world’s stock agencies make their revenue on quantity. It’s simple math really. Lower licensing fees mean that these agencies are able to license a larger quantity of images which in turn makes them more money. But what does that mean for the licensee? What does this mean for your brand? It means that the images being licensed to you are not unique in the marketplace.
Think about the basic economic principle of supply and demand. When something is less unique in the marketplace, it becomes less desirable. When something is less desirable, it usually has a lower price point associated with it. It’s the same reason why something that’s unique, premium or incredibly rare will usually cost you more.
We’ve all heard the phrase “perception is reality.” So ask yourself, how do you want your brand to be perceived? Do you want to be perceived as a company that has cheap products and services and is just like everyone else? Or do you want your brand to be perceived as an industry leader full of experts who’s uniqueness in the marketplace allows your products and services to command the fees you deserve? If your answer was to be an industry leader, than you should consider not using stock imagery to market your growing brand.
Yep, that’s right. Everyone is using the same image as you are.
With a simple Google Image Search extension installed into your Chrome browser and a swift right click of the mouse, you can easily perform a Google Image Search. Chances are, the stock image that you just put on your website may also be found on hundreds if not thousands of other websites. How's that for your SEO?
The internet is a pretty big place, but it’s a lot smaller than you may think. Don’t believe me? Do a Google Image Search on the stock image that I licensed for this blog post. You’ll find that it shows up on many other websites. As a professional image maker, it kinda makes me cringe to have a stock image even associated with my website, but I did it to prove a point.
You’d be amazed just how many competing companies are using the same exact images to market and advertise their businesses. Think about how confusing this could be for your potential customers…if you’re not differentiating your brand with original visual content, you might be hurting your business without even being aware of it. You wouldn’t dare use the same logo or tagline as your competitors right? So why would you want to use the same imagery, especially on such a broad scale?
It’s in the name. They call it “stock” for a reason.
Let's face it, in most cases stock imagery can be pretty generic. How many images of handshakes or people sitting around an office table with an iPad will it take before companies start to realize this?
Think about the last time you visited a company's website and saw the customer service window pop up. I’m going to assume there was a generic photo of a customer service rep wearing a headset right next to the chat window. Did you have the impression that this so called "Sarah” actually worked for that company? Think about how your perception of this interaction might have changed if you saw a legitimate photo of a real person who actually looked like they worked at that company instead of the generic "closeup of a call center employee with headset" stock image.
Look, if you’re going to use a generic concept, do your brand a favor and photograph your own employees in your own office space. At least you’ll be create authenticity by having original content and a point of view.
Your Brand’s Image Matters
It might be tempting to “save money” by purchasing stock images. But in reality, whether it’s in the form of brand degradation or lost revenue, your brand equity could eventually pay the price. The photography used in connection with your company affect how the marketplace perceives your brand. What may initially appear to be a bargain can easily turn into an expensive problem when the resulting images do not meet expectations.
So how do you differentiate your brand from your competitors in a visual sense? Here are some reasons WHY YOU SHOULD CONSIDER HIRING A COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER INSTEAD OF LICENSING STOCK IMAGERY.
Get The Guide: Commercial Photography 101
Maybe you’ve never worked with a commercial photographer before. Or maybe you have. In either case, I’ve put together a guide to help you understand the process of hiring a commercial photographer for your next project. Fill out the form below to get access to: Commercial Photography 101: A Digital Art That Rocks™ Guide to Commissioning Commercial Photography.