Why bespoke is best when it comes to showcasing your brand…
I’ve spoken before about the importance of visual content when it comes to cementing your brand – and how photography can play a huge part in presenting the ‘right’ image to your customers and potential customers.
Yet so often I see examples of businesses that have evidently invested a lot in creating a fantastic brand; with a new logo, fantastic colour palettes, clever taglines, new website and so on; but have decided to go down the route of stock photography when it comes to their imagery.
Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that stock photos are evil. Like most things they do have their place. But let me tell you why I believe that bespoke is best if you are serious about showcasing your brand the right way…
What is Stock Photography?
Before I do however, some of you may be unsure of what I mean by ‘stock’ photos. Essentially, stock photography consists of a library of already-created, ‘mocked up’ images that businesses and individuals can buy for commercial purposes.
These can range from generic imagery of places, people and ‘things’ – including graphics and illustrations – to posed photographs of specific situations, such as ‘meetings’ or couples getting married for example.
What’s the problem with Stock photography?
As a commercial photographer, it’s my job to ensure that your photos reflect your values, your message and your personality. Buying from a business is still very much influenced by how a person feels, and the power of professional photography in evoking certain feelings can never be underestimated.
So it follows that telling a story – your story – is vitally important. Your story is likely to be a personal one; it’s about why you do what you do, what motivates you, why you started in the first place, how you are different from the competition and what those who buy from you can expect.
This is not something that you can emulate through generic imagery that has not been created with you in mind.
Can you say ‘cheese’?
One thing that a lot of Stock imagery is unfortunately guilty of is the so-called ‘cheesiness’ of people images.
The rule of thirds tends to go out of the window and instead, you are forced to choose between images of people staring directly at the camera, with cheesy smiles and no interaction or personal connection with each other or the audience.
These posed images don’t do much to enhance messages such as ‘authentic’, ‘trusting’ or ‘approachable’ – three values that many businesses hold dear.
Take this recent photo shoot I did for Archway Carpets. Known for their passion, integrity and personal approach, it was important for them to have a series of images that reflected their way of working that they could use on their website.
Their use of authentic, original imagery that is very much ‘them’ – encourages that all-important familiarity and empathy required for potential customers to pick up the phone and get in touch.
The imagery we captured has done just that, with no cheesiness in sight – just a true reflection of the experience you will receive when working with them.
Haven’t I seen that before?
Many stock images are actually fantastic shots, that’s one of the reasons why the industry is booming, and let’s face it; when you are selling a holiday destination or a new car for example, it’s difficult to go wrong with many of the images available via image libraries.
But when it comes to using these images as ‘brand images’ or photos you will use time and time again (on adverts, on your website, or on social media etc) to cement your identity, stock photos quickly come unstuck.
Lots of other people will be using exactly the same image.
This not only creates confusion amongst your market (people tend to associate companies with images) but can also undermine your credibility. It’s not just the fact that your competitors may be using the same image, but it could be used in a scenario that damages your brand or is at direct odds to your beliefs.
The personal touch is everything
Taking photos of your actual business and real employees is one of the best ways to showcase what makes your company unique. I have taken photos of team meetings, individuals, the office environment, building exteriors and more – anything that makes a company different.
These images can then be used in a variety of situations and help to increase that all-important brand awareness: the first step toward getting those phones ringing.
Visiting a business’s place of work to capture unique images also enables me to use my experience and eye for detail to pick out those little touches that your potential customers will love. It could be that quirky wall canvas you have in reception, or the motivational quote you hang in your staff room, or even those beautiful bouquets of flowers you place in meeting rooms to make people feel at ease.
All things that stock photography simply can’t ‘fake’.
A picture is worth a thousand words
The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” may be one of the most over-used in the world of photography (and yes I do use it myself!) – but it’s for good reason.
If you are investing in a brand new website, I truly believe that your imagery is not the place to start cutting corners. High quality, professional, candid photography of you and your team can make all the difference between a potential customer clicking through to your enquiry page, or moving on to a competitor.
I’ll leave you with this rather funny example of stock images used to promote the Vince Vaughan film Unfinished Business back in 2015… it’s a PR stunt of course, but I thought it a rather amusing example of what bad use of stock images can ‘do’!