Consistency = Confidence: How Stock Photography Can Work Against Your Brand

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I believe that successful brands are built on three things: credibility, relevance and differentiation. Cheesy stock photos can hurt you in all three areas…
Source: BNBranding


Today we are tackling a big topic: the relationship between your brand, stock photography, and COVID.  As many businesses navigate through the COVID crisis, their marketing strategies are now including elements like updated health & safety protocols, COVID measures, and reopening guides.


As you start to capture your safety conscious brand, you might not have on-brand images to pair with your messaging. Is this important? Are stock images okay? How do I start? We have all the answers for you here!


Do I have to use images in my branded marketing? 

The easiest way to teach people who you are is to include visuals in your messaging. We know you might think we’re biased on this topic, so we’ve filled this section full of stats to support our love for visual marketing!

    • Photos guide us towards purchasing: According to MDG Advertising, 67% of online shoppers rated high-quality images as being “very important” to their purchase decision – more so than “reviews and ratings”! Additionally, 68% of marketers rank images as more valuable content than text and video.
    • Good imagery helps us learn and remember: Nearly two-thirds of people say they’re visual learners, in fact our brains process visual information approximately 60,000 times faster than text content! Plus, on average people only recall 10% of information 3 days after hearing it; just by adding a picture recall can improve up to 65%. 
    • Visuals help your SEO: Did you know search engines prioritize visually-heavy content? In fact, pages that appear in Google’s featured mobile snippets on average have at least 12 images. Plus, posting an article with strong visual elements averages 37 percent more engagement!
                                Source: MGD Advertising


Is Using Stock Imagery Really That Bad?

Stock imagery is a huge industry – one that supports many fellow photographers, so we aren’t hating! However the reality is that stock photography can in fact work against your messaging and even harm your brand in certain conditions. We’ve got some stats to back that up: 

    • Remember how we said images stick with us? Our brains make powerful connections to imagery – and since stock photography is available to everyone, this can work with or against us. Subconsciously, if we’ve made a negative association to an image we will recall and project that sentiment again the next time we see it. Even if the first association with an image is positive, your guests brain will wire a connection between your brand + the image + the first brand they saw it on, muddying the uniqueness of your brand.
    • Authenticity isn’t generic: your people are already invested in you, and new potential clients are attracted to authenticity. This is proven by a study Marketing Experiments where they tested a photo of the company founder on a website banner against the existing control group using their top performing stock image model. Both photos represented similar qualities of customer service and professionalism, however the results showed that visitors and customers were 35% more likely to sign up on the page using the named photo of someone from the company!
                                  Source: Marketing Experiments
    • Consistency = Confidence: trust is built with consistency. From your logo to the tone of your copy, great brands are consistent in their messaging. Google Trends shows us that “Coronavirus Stock Photos” emerged as a popular search term starting in March. The question you have to ask yourself is if a stock image of a model wearing a mask or gloved hands cleaning a table is able to fit in consistently with all your other brand elements?  



How to Use On-Brand Imagery

So we know that our minds can process and make judgments of visual information within milliseconds, that our subconscious wires powerful connections to these images, and that consistency = trust for brands… Now how do you apply this to your company? Below we’ve highlighted some of the best ways to start:

    • Use on-brand photography to showcase your safety-conscious brand.
    • Maintain consistency by updating your channels with current images of your team (a practice that also boosts morale by involving your people directly into your brand!)
    • Develop your own stock of on-brand images to pull from for various messaging campaigns without having to search for generic stock alternatives (particularly helpful since we know that COVID will continue requiring frequent updates across your channels)
    • Make sure the post production of your images upholds your brand integrity. How an editor dials the white balance, vibrancy, and saturation of an image can make a huge impact on the final product. Ensure your editor is aware of your brand values so that impact is positive not negative for your brand!


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but if some of those words misrepresent your brand, then what are you actually saying? As your on-brand photography experts, we would love to continue this conversation with you. 


Our team can help review, assess and strategize how to capture a wide variety of on-brand photo assets for all your business communications. We look forward to learning more about you and your brand!

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