It had become a sight that we have come accustomed to: Stock Photos. Yes, who wouldn’t like to use free photos? They look good, they are free or bought for a few bucks. In many cases, the photos can fit nicely with the message or corporate identity you would like to display. However, there is also a downside to using stock photos in your branding and marketing.

Many photos that you see in the media are taken with telephones. Often these are not photos of very good quality so that as a company you do not advertise the best. Because there is no professional photographer present, this is sometimes the choice many companies make. After all, with stock photography, you have a professional photo that only costs a few euros and can then be placed with an article or media communication.

There are 3 types of stock photo’s

1. Free stock photo websites: Realize that the photos on them have probably been used thousands of times and are therefore far from the original. In addition, the question is whether these stock photos should really be free. It is quite strange that some photos are sold through Shutterstock, while the same photos can also be downloaded for free from another website.

2.Right managed (RM): these photos are charged based on the specific use. You must specify this when purchasing the images. These photos don’t just cost a few euros each but start at a few tens and can sometimes cost thousands of euros.

3. Royalty-free (RF): these are photos that you can use indefinitely and that are often charged for a very low amount. There is no record of what a photo is subsequently used for.

The advantage of RM over RF stock photography is that the rights of use of the photos can be purchased exclusively.

Free stock photos are not representative

Obviously, stock photos are far from unique. Stock photos are made to be sold as often as possible and are therefore very common. As a result, a stock photo is totally not representative of your company and does not show the unique sides that make you stand out from the crowd.

If you want to use stock photos on your website with a perfectly smiling man or beautiful lady of course it is possible. But you do not come across as really reliable as a company.

Take a look at this example of a Dutch website where you can arrange your divorce online. Do these people on the picture look like they are going true a hard time? They look like they are having a great time arranging their divorce together with their child. It does not look very realistic nor reliable.

A stock photo used on a Dutch website for divorce. Does this image look suitable?

It is the details that ensure recognizability, such as products displayed in the image that are from your own country or show your company logo. However, you will not find these details on a stock photo.

The images you use should make it clear to customers that the company is reliable and unique. Stock photos can give rise to doubts. If there are no “real” photos of the company, to what extent can customers rely on the company’s services?

As a manager of marketing at a company, you should always ask yourself what the consequences would be if your competitor might use the same photo. What if they post the same photo and slightly adjust the message and the story? This could seriously damage your brand identity. Another danger when using stock photos is that you are communicating just the right way or in the wrong way. As I showed with the Dutch divorce website example just now. You would like to come across as an expert. But many stock photos are just not good enough.

One of the most used call center ladies on the internet

Image is everything

If you use a lot of stock photography, you create a vibe that you don’t really care about the use of photography. Despite the fact that there are many studies, the use of images is very important for imaging. With stock photography, you are not doing your brand identity any good and you miss the opportunity to inform customers correctly. Also, with the use of stock photos, you show that you are not really a specialist in that field.

With every use of a stock photo, ask yourself if it is bad that your closest competitor could also use that photo with a different story. Also, realize that the stock photo you want to use is far from authentic and unfortunately it adds little to the story you are telling.

However should you after all of this still feel like using stock photos then there are some tricks that could help you in finding more suitable stock images that are less used. The first one is the Google search engine where you can search on photo URL’s and see how often they are used. Or check this article where you can find the 5 Most Popular Stock Photo Personalities. So you can at least check off 5 stock photo personalities 😀

This man is known as “business guy” and is used for many stock photos
Marco de Groen

Marco de Groen

A flying Dutchman who is Graphic Designer  Multimedia Designer | Webdesigner | Blogger | Illustrator | Infographics | Social Media | Brand Manager | Branding | Owner/Founder Asian Customs and The Daily Roar and Blackstone Design

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