Visuals are an important part of marketing and communication.
Advertisements, social networks, and print communication are rapidly evolving as people are looking for businesses to reach out to them with pictures and graphics instead of words. Even sms texting has taken a turn to graphics (emojis 🙂 ) to replace words.
Visuals are very important. Essential, even, as most marketers, business owners, and brand developers will agree. Your photos and visual media are often the most effective way to emotionally connect with your audience and tell your brand story.
But unless you have a professional photographer and designer on staff, producing enough visual content for your website, marketing materials or blog can be difficult. The convenient solution? Stock photos!
Stock photos are definitely a helpful resource and there are a lot of great ones available. But let’s be honest — stock photos often have a way of looking like stock photos. Generic, staged, or outright ridiculous.
It’s important to carefully evaluate each stock photo you use. Pictures really do paint a thousand words, and it’s incredibly easy damage your brand image or make your potential customers cringe and walk away with a poor image choice. Make sure any photo you use genuinely and authentically conveys your brand story and draw your audience in.
Follow these simple tips to evaluate your stock photo choices and ultimately select ones that help and not hurt your brand image!
1. Avoid Cliches
When choosing photos for your branding or blog posts, be careful to steer away from overly used image cliches. Cliches tend to have two negative effects — (1) they tell your audience that you are just following the trends and (2) they can instantly lower the way your clients perceive the quality of your services and professionalism of your business. If you can’t find an appropriate photo for your needs, consider creating illustrations or graphics that fit your brand.
2. Be Consistent
Choose photos that are consistent to your company’s brand identity. Consider your company’s primary qualities. Are you casual, formal or eco-friendly? Your photos should reflect the general mood and tone of your brand. Your photos also need to be consistent to each other. One of the best ways to tell the world that you are using stock photos is to use a wide range of settings, color tones, style and models. Always choose photos that look good together, even if they won’t be shown right next to each other. It may even be helpful to download or create a unique filter for all your brand images (think Instagram filters) to help maintain consistency.
3. Look for Emotional Authenticity
Having people in your photos is great! But if their emotions or actions appear unnatural, you’ll chance losing your audience (or at least your credibility). Choose photos that create an emotional response with your viewers and accurately represent the feelings you what your audience to feel.
4. Include People When Possible
Try to show people whenever possible in your images. Photos without people tend to look static and unnatural. Studies have also found that people like seeing other people (surprise!). So, add a few pretty faces around your website, blog and marketing materials for a better customer experience.
5. Choose High Quality Images
It’s often temping to source your images from free stock photo sites. And while there are some decent photos available through these types of site (I recommend Unsplash) they are often on the lower end of the quality spectrum. Look for crisp, defined photos with bright colors and perfect focus. Avoid heavy shadows, distorted colors, odd angles, and blurry images.
To wrap all that up — always make sure your photos look authentic, fit your brand, and inspire the kind of feelings you want your customers to experience. Include people when possible and always go for high quality, crisp images. Visuals are incredibly important, but remember that no photo at all is better than one that damages your brand image!
Ready to start? Check out some of these royalty free stock photo sights!
iStock Photo (about $15/image)
Adobe Stock (with monthly subscription, $2.99/image)
Unsplash (free, mostly high quality images)