Just Say No to Stock Images

Published January 31, 2024

Authentic brand marketing is impossible with stock imagery - even really good stock imagery.

Photography is an essential element when it comes to telling a story. And, with branding and marketing imagery being used across a variety of advertising mediums - it is worth the effort and investment to build an archive of your own original photography to pull from.

Stock photography can work in a pinch, but it should always be your goal to source original photography for your website and other marketing materials. 

Here are four key reasons why you should just say no to stock images.

1. Original Photography is a Powerful Marketing Booster

Original photography provides your brand with a consistent visual message that you have control over.

Consistency with your brand visuals and messaging builds trust and loyalty – which leads to overall growth.

Visual inconsistency can lead to brand mistrust and suspicion – which leads nowhere good.

Portraying a consistent brand face will protect your brand and help root your brand presence in the marketplace.

Original photography can be a strong foundation for your brand and help you boost your marketing presence.

Eye tracking studies have demonstrated strong support in favor of using original photography versus stock photography – demonstrating that people tended to ignore stock photos, while photos of “real” people kept their attention and converted 35% more.

That 35% is the difference between giving your marketing an A+ or a C-.

2. Authenticity Matters for Your Brand

Your brand’s authenticity has never been more relevant. According to recent Stackla data (via SocialMediaToday), 90% of customers mentioned authenticity as an important factor in deciding which brands they like and support.

Additionally, 64% of today’s consumers are belief-driven and believe brands can be a powerful force for change. Consumers simply expect you to do more with your brand.

One way that you can be an authentic brand that demonstrates your values is with original photography. It will make your marketing more successful, build brand trust and consumer loyalty.

Being genuine and showing real people in your photos that have a personal connection to your brand is huge when it comes to being authentic with your branding. So say no to stock images and say yes to authenticity.

Why does this matter? Consumer trust in brands has declined while consumer skepticism is on the rise. Consumers are watching out more actively for what values a brand portrays and acts on.

3. Original Photography Protects Your Brand Integrity

While we push for original photography at every opportunity, sometimes there simply isn’t budget or time. We recognize that and accept it. On some sites, you can see how popular a photo is, which can help you make a wise selection if you must go the stock route. Keep this in mind when you select stock photos.

That said, it’s important to note that it can be confusing to consumers to associate an image with your brand and then see it somewhere else in a context that has nothing to do with your brand – or worse, is counter to your brand values.

For example, this stock photo is one that we noticed popping up just about everywhere. We saw it in digital ads for a financial institution, as part of a news joke on TV via Late Night with Seth Meyers and as signage for an employment staffing firm. It’s a great photo, but the point here is that using stock photography can be confusing to consumers and dilute your brand message as well as your brand values.

You can imagine someone seeing the photo in the financial institution ad, and then later seeing it at a staffing firm and being confused as to who the ad is for and what it’s about.

If you source your own original photography – then it is unique to your brand. That in itself has intrinsic value to your brand’s integrity.

4. Your Website is Your Marketing Face to the World

And that face should be an authentic portrayal of your brand. Loading your website up with a bunch of stock photos won’t do that.

Using original images on your website provides the following benefits:

  • Provides visual support for your content that fits your brand and resonates with your target audience
  • Impacts your ranking in search engines by building links (something stock images can’t do)
  • Provides a positive user experience because the photo relates to the content messaging
  • Encourages readers to stay on the site longer
  • Is more effective with converting users

An effective website design features strong photography, which helps:

  • Break up copy
  • Engage the user with the brand
  • Guide the eye of the reader down the page
  • Tell a story about the brand
  • Demonstrate organizational values

There you have it - four reasons to say no to stock photography:

  1. Original Photography is a Powerful Marketing Booster
  2. Authenticity Matters for Your Brand
  3. Original Photography Protects Your Brand Integrity
  4. Your website is your marketing face to the world

Interested in talking more about sourcing original photography for your brand?

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