When creating digital content for your marketing efforts, images are a valuable asset. The right image can summarize important concepts and drive home the point of your message.
However, it’s easy to sabotage your marketing efforts by using stock images. While stock photography is available from several sites and is a relatively quick and low-cost option for sourcing imagery, it isn’t always the right solution. Here are 5 questions you should ask before using a stock image.
1. Do These Stock Photos Undermine the Authenticity of Our Brand?
There are times when your work requires your own photographs and images for authenticity. Of course, you would never use stock images in place of actual employee photographs when displaying bios on your website, but there are other areas where stock imagery may be giving a false impression of your company, products and services.
For instance, if you operate an auto repair shop where you service only domestic car models, using a stock photo of a mechanic working on a Ferrari could come off as disingenuous to your customers. Always consider how your audience will view a stock image before using it.
2. Is the Stock Image Already in Use?
When searching keywords on a stock imagery site, the most popular photos and graphics are presented first. Odds are, if you choose an offering from one of the first few pages, you’ll run the risk of licensing images that are also in use by other companies. Some may not share your brand values or may represent competing products or services.
Before committing to an image, it's important to know where it is currently in use. That's where reverse lookup tools such as TinEye come in. Simply paste in an image and you’ll receive a listing of every place the image is in use across the web.
3. Can You Get a Rights Managed License?
When using a stock imagery site, you're granted a license to use each image you download in your own unique designs. The problem is, so is every other company who purchases the license.
To combat the overuse of stock images, some providers will offer a higher tier of service, granting you a Rights Managed License. Generally, this upper level attracts higher quality photographers, ensuring a superior product. Best of all, you’ll be granted exclusive use of the asset for as long as you own the license.
4. Can You Make the Image Your Own?
While everyone may be using the same photo to represent a popular keyword or concept, you may be able to make that photo your own. Creative use of typography, background manipulations, and the right use of cropping can turn a stock image into an original creation. You just need the right tools and creative know-how to get the job done.
5. Can You Take the Picture Yourself?
Generally speaking, if you can take the picture yourself and achieve professional results, you should. When you use stock images, you’re employing imagery that most closely matches your message and ideals. By using your own images, you can do just the opposite, strengthening brand messages by customizing images to text.
Original images also underscore the uniqueness of your brand, making it possible to tie in elements that are important to your company, such as scenery specific to your location or product.
How to Build a Library of Original Images for Your Business
Using your own proprietary images allows you to maintain total control of your content and your brand. By taking the creative reigns, you can ensure that images are always 100 percent brand compliant and original.
Originality is particularly important when using images of people. When you exhibit photographs of actual employees in your content or on your website, you’re providing an authentic peek behind the scenes, encouraging deeper relationships with current and potential customers.
If you lack the internal talent to create your own images, consider hiring a professional. For businesses on a budget, local colleges or photography schools often have talented students who will do the work for a lower rate than an established professional. You’re giving a newcomer to the industry a chance to build a portfolio while licensing quality original images.
Likewise, you could hire an intern to take photos or create graphics for your company. The student will receive the college credits they need to graduate, and your business will build a library of quality images.
With a little creative juice, you could even become your own photographer. The cameras in most phones today are advanced enough to turn out many types of quality images. It’s also possible to purchase an entry level DSLR camera for your business to have on hand.
With a little planning and some basic knowledge on how lighting and composition work, you will be taking professional looking, high quality pictures in no time. The post editing tools now available even make it possible to fix mistakes such as poor composition or lighting after the photo has been taken.
When it comes to your brand, images are an important part of your marketing strategy, so authenticity and originality will always win over canned images.
The articles in this blog are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations. When making decisions about your financial situation, consult a financial professional for advice. Articles are not regularly updated, and information may become outdated.