by Niel McKenzie
Ok, this is not a rant about using stock photography or stock images. They have their place but it may not be in representing your personal or business brand.
What is stock photography? Stock photos are images created by photographers and either sold by the photographer or agencies that represent many photographers. With the increase in the number of people with digital cameras there has also come an increase in the number of stock photo agencies – most all are represented on the web. You can find a stock photo for almost any subject or object. As the number of stock images that are available has skyrocketed the price for images has plummeted – many can be had for a few dollars.
Professional photography helps develop personal and business brands. In many instances the personal brand is the same as the business brand. These images are used in all kinds of printed materials from business cards to brochures and almost always on a website or social networking sites like Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter, etc.
Here are a few ideas on how stock photography can detract from your personal brand:
- There is nothing unique about using an image that may have been used thousands of times by others including your competition. Here is a good example of what not to do – Embarrassing Royalty Free Stock Photography Blunders The fact that this was done by major companies makes you wonder.
- You probably wouldn’t consider using the image of someone else on your personal business card. Are your web presence or other printed materials any different?
- By using stock photography you run the risk that because the image or type of image has been used so much that it lacks any impact other than filler – most people don’t even bother to give them a second glance.
- Stock images do not help you build relationships/trust with your customers and they do not help you in developing a brand that is unique.
- A huge concept in brand strategy is “authenticity”. If you need an image of an object such as a red rose then stock photos will work just fine. If you are trying to depict your customer service department as a group of beautiful models with phone headsets standing by to take customer calls and the reality is “Mabel” who has been taking care of your customers for 20 years – what kind of “authentic” brand are you creating?
To sum it up: Be wise on how you use stock photos, be authentic on how you present yourself and your people, and budget money in your marketing programs to develop images that are unique to you and your business.