Stock vs. Original Photography
So, you have a brand. And you have amazing products or services. Oh, and you have an inspiring, moving, and unique mission for your brand. On top of that, your brand engages with its customers, has top-notch SEO, has consistent scheduling when posting on social media – and let’s not forget, your brand promotes posts (or ads) via the web and in print design. Your brand should be headed for success!
But, let’s be real for a second: Your brand could be much more noticeable, recognizable, and much more successful.
“How? How can I set my brand apart from every other brand in my industry?”
That’s the question every brand or business should be asking. And the answer super simple: Be original.
It's All About Standing Out as a Brand
Here at Farmore Marketing being original, at least for us, means creating your own imagery, and not just photos either. Compelling content starts with believable photographs, creative graphics, unique ads, and convincing videos. In short, materials that make your branding (or marketing campaign) different and stick out from the rest.
As a creative agency, we’ve seen a lot of stock photography in place of what should really be authentic photography. There are a handful of companies that “don’t have the time” for the appropriate photography, videos, and designs for their brand. So thus, unfortunately, some ads that emerge can be similar to others out there. This is not due to the creative behind the advertisements, but rather because the photographs are identical - because they were purchased or downloaded for free.
Original Vs. Stock Imagery for All Types of Brands
According to HostGator, a web hosting company based in Austin, TX, several companies have put the stock photography theory to the test. Funnily enough, they stated, “customers converted 35% more when faced with original photography.” And when one company in NYC tested their original imagery against stock photography “they found their original photos converted at rates around 45% higher than a stock photo.”
Crazy, right? Not really. All types of brands are embracing this idea of original imagery. Bigger brands, such as Starbucks, Target, and Apple and smaller brands, such as Kahwa Coffee, 4Rivers Smokehouse, and Helicon are reaping the benefits of their brand’s original imagery.
But you must be thinking, “They gross a ton of money in revenue every year.” And you're right, they do, but the point is that they continuously get new followers, more likes, and organic customers with every original post, ad, video or graphic that they share because a part of what they share is original to them – their original imagery.
Why You Should Consider Original Photography
Not convinced yet? Here are a few reasons why you should rethink your brand’s marketing campaigns and strategy to incorporate original imagery:
· It makes your brand recognizable across the board.
· It can enhance your SEO.
· It sells your brand and your products/services. (And gives your customers a general idea of what your brand offers.)
· It resonates with customers – via emotion, authenticity, and it makes your brand personality shine.
· It downright looks professional.
Applying Original Photography To Your Brand
So now that you are convinced that your brand needs original creative material, here are a few tips and trends to keep your brand’s original imagery up to snuff on today’s advertising industry:
· Have a library full of original photography that coincides with your brand, it’s mission, it’s values, and most importantly it looks. And when we say “library”, we mean 6 – 12 months worth of photography, if your company has the budget. Your stockpile should also include imagery for the holidays with new photos every 12 months or even every quarter if you can - your Marketing Professionals will thank you later for this. Creating new images also frees you from reusing old content.
· Think about the details. The tiny details really matter in brand photography. For example, if you have a tangible product for your brand, and you want to take photos of it, maybe think about photographing it with a model. Also, don’t forget to think about the tiniest of details – your audience notices everything. Make sure the model’s nails are clean, or if a logo is facing the right way on the product. The little things matter.
· Use Props. Using props won’t hurt your brand; just make sure they are relevant. For example, if you are celebrating New Years and you want to incorporate that with your brand in a social media graphic, you may want to consider incorporating some New Years props. This will let your audience know that you are celebrating with them, or it may even encourage your audience to use your product while they celebrate – depending on the context of the graphic.
· Be consistent. Whether it’s your brand/marketing campaign’s message, or the look and feel of the graphics/imagery – don’t mix it up too much. Have the brand’s original imagery look and feel as if it coming from one brand. Don’t worry, if you have a marketing director and another person on the team that has different ideas about the brand look – come together with your designer, director, or photographer so all ideas can be laid out on the table – thus, your brand won’t look brand confused. (Believe us, this is a thing – and some brands end up having this happen to them.)
· When creating graphics with your original imagery, keep the brand in mind. It’s your brand, so you should portray it to your potential customers the way that you want it to be percieved by them. Think of graphics as the whipped cream on top of your original photography or video. It gets the point across, makes it visually appealing, and allows the original imagery to shine. Some brands may think that graphics are needed more than original imagery, and in some instances, that’s not always the case.
· Video imagery is just as important as static imagery. So you have the original photos for your brand – and this is a great start – but we are in the 21st century. Video advertising is everywhere - even on top of cars that you rent. (Don’t believe us? Take a look at the Santa Monica brand called WaiveCar.) So it’s not just all about the static images. We can evoke feelings, messages, and brands through thirty second to minute long videos, too. Make it funny, make it emotional, make it short-sweet-and-to-the-point, but always make sure its original to your brand.
· Imagery of your company culture is just as important as your brand’s original imagery. It’s an up and coming trend among some brands and companies to have, but most companies are overlooking it. Culture shots can be anything from headshots to what your company actually does for your brand. These types of things are so important; not only because it makes the people who work for your brand look good, but it also allows any potential buyers or investors, who want to work with you, realize that you are serious about what you are sharing with the world. This means, don’t look over the headshots, folks – always remember that “you are the face of your brand”, and your employees want to be proud of the brand that they work for. Also, let’s not forget that a good-looking brand increases any sort of productivity throughout the company!
So, in short, stock photography or subpar imagery may be the difference between catching a customer’s attention for your brand or advertising the same look as other companies. Remember: Stock photography (even more so, free stock photography) can be purchased and downloaded by anyone. So, make sure that original imagery is an important element in your branding. And to those brands out there that want to put in a little extra time, energy, additional ideas, and a healthy budget into creating and conceptualizing original imagery: We are here for you – just take a look at our many marketing services (and our most recent work) and shoot us an email! We are here to help – and to make your brand look like it’s the best in the industry.
About the Author
Amanda received her bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and Digital Media with a Concentration in Print design from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI. Her career background ranges from user interface design to print design to branding. Amanda has a passion for illustration, cannot live without hass avocados, and loves anything and everything about cats.