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Looking for the Stock Photos? 
How They Can Sabotage Your Brand Image and What You Should Do.


Website designers, marketers and even DYIer’s all have one thing in common… they know that “EVERY BUSINESS NEEDS PHOTOS” to maximize their brand awareness, stand out and to increase website traffic and conversion rates.


Indeed, a picture speaks a thousand words and photography plays an indisputable role in improving brand exposure and engagement. Unfortunately, people often balked at the photography line item in proposed budgets, so with the high demand for photography in business, Stock photography was invented. Now people assume that the perfect photo’s just waiting to be downloaded at the touch of a button, for ten to 40 bucks. It doesn’t matter if the images are for a website, ads, sales materials, email campaigns, social media posts or powerpoint presentations, most people turn immediately to stock photo sites and they go to the same source every time.

What’s really shocking is when designers / marketers go to great pains to create the perfect layout and/or service tools for their clients, and then, sadly they succumbed to the snare that is stock photography— by plugging in some copy, slapping a stock image on the project and call it finished. This does a disservice to the entire project and your business, because the quality of your visuals and content used to represent your business —matters. ..

What can you do about it? Keep reading….


The problem with stock photography, in most cases, is this: It bores people to death. The eyes instantly glaze over them because the brain’s saying “I’ve seen this a thousand times. There’s nothing new or interesting here. Hey, I get it. Stock images are convenient. You or someone working for you, can just pop an image into your website, sales materials, social media post, blog, or advertisement and the project is considered done. While stock images seem to get the job done, stock images really tend to devalue the content they accompany. The reason for this is, the photos you think are great, are the same photos that everyone else thinks are great and are subsequently using.

I once saw the same stock image used by two different businesses in two different ads on the same day on facebook and it just made me cringe for them.

Stock Photos Preach Authenticity But End Up Delivering Generalities:

For brands trying to represent a specific message, stock imagery may catch the eye, but for many of the wrong reasons. The average business can pick stock photography out of a lineup - it's that obvious. Stock images are generic, off-the-shelf pieces of content anyone can use. The reason being, for photographers “stock images”, is just a volume game. Stock photographers must meet the demands of a wide range of customers, so they often revert to cliché and generic visual cues. If the citation on the photo doesn't give it away, the contrived poses, false smiles, and carefully chosen message, certainly proves my point. They need their images to be downloaded a thousand times over, so they make them as generic as possible. In that case, a picture’s definitely not worth a thousand words.

Successful Brands Are Built On Three Things: Credibility, Relevance and Differentiation.

Stock photos can hurt your brand in all these three areas; If you’re trying to convey a message of quality, your credibility goes right out the window with a cheap stock shot. Higher priced stock photos; the ones used by anyone else, differentiation is out of the question. And there’s nothing relevant about an image that’s designed to appeal to a mass market of consumers age 25 to 54.

Look I understand that it can be a struggle to find compelling images. (It’s true “every business needs photos”… Your brand image can’t be built on words alone). I realize that choosing totally authentic images for every blog and social media post is unrealistic. But if you must use stock images, choose something uncommon and striking.


The real problem with stock photography isn’t always the photography, it’s the judgement of the person choosing the visual. Visuals are often the first pieces of content that someone see. An certain type of image sets the brain up for a certain type of message. If the imagery creates a preconceived notion in the viewer's mind that doesn’t match the content, the customer experience will change, and possibly not for the better, leaving them feeling confused, and confused customers don’t stick around.

Boost The Value Of The Written Content and Engage Customers At Every Level With The Right Visual Cues.

As it becomes more and more difficult to reach consumers over the noise of other voices, your content marketing strategy should include a rule for matching visuals with your content. Both visuals and content should work together: They should be a unified message to enhance your project and boost it’s selling power. Do not choose the first visual you find that sort of supports the content or matches you brand colors. Take the time to really consider someone's first impression of the photo and how the visual complements the copy.

By expressing straightforward and abstract ideas with the right visuals, it will lead to more authentic branding and create a personal connection to the brand in the same way a customer's name on an email can.

Stick To Your Branding Guidelines.

Branding should look and sound consistent across all mediums to maintain brand consistency. Colors, tone of voice, fonts, and the level of professionalism should appear the same website, social media post, blog, brochure, or advertisements, ect.

If you must use stock images, just do the best you can with the options you have. There are great shots to be found, so either spend a lot more time refining your search, making sure the right images to accompany the text. Just don’t disappoint your customers/prospects with messages that don’t match your visuals. Or consider hiring a professional designer, one that is trained to not only the right image for your text and polish the image to match your branding, but one that understandings which part of your project needs a certain type of visual to support and lift the copy and what type of copy can lift the visual. Another option is to hire a graphic designer with good photoshop skills, of that can tweak your image or create some secondary brand elements, for your services, so the final product more genuinely represents your brand.


Good designers work really hard to avoid the “ I’ve seen that somewhere before “ visuals that are so prominent today. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time to sift through the stock libraries just to find something that’s sorta close to what’s really needed.

Look, I’ve have been doing this for over 30 years and very, very rarely do you find the perfect image for the job. That’s why I became a master at photoshop, so I can create custom images for my clients and my own site, without resorting slapping in a stock images that would of been no more than borrowed interest. See Some Examples Below:

Look it is what it is—Sometimes you just have to either spend time or money to get it right, but your brand image and your business will be better for it in the long run. The fact is, your brand image should be just as important to you as the quality of your services/products.— just saying.

If you want help cleaning up and polishing the brand image of your business, visit or call me: 917.674.1025


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