By Nora Wendel
Stock photos save time. And time is money!
Stock photography is made specifically for the purpose of providing you with images that you can use commercially for marketing. It can be unrealistic and really expensive getting professional photo shoots done every time you want to publish a blog post or create a social media graphic. And that’s where stock photos come in.
I’m sure you have already trawled through some big name stock photos sites searching for images that you could use on your website, in a flyer or for a Facebook post.
Thousands of images, page after page, stare back at you. Some you like, many you don’t…but how do you choose the ‘right’ image?
That’s a question I often get asked by my clients who feel frustrated after spending over an hour searching through images to only find a few that they find interesting or, more importantly, usable for their business.
Although technically any and every stock photo can be used – you want to try and keep your marketing “on brand” (meaning in line with the look and feel outlined in your brand guidelines).
So how do you find the right images?
Read on below to find my tips on how align stock photos with your brand.
First let’s make sure we all understand what a brand is. A brand is the whole experience of your business: the logo, the mood, the colors, the design aesthetic, the way you communicate via email. A brand encompasses the whole vibe of your business!
[ahem, Rikki butting in here – if you need help with your brand guidelines, you can download a free communications styleguide template right now. Complete with instructions & will TOTALLY help make this image-choosing thing easier for you!]
You probably already have a defined look and feel to your brand; perhaps have already chosen a few words that help categorize the way you want your brand to be perceived…. And if not choose some words now!
For example: maybe it’s feminine and flirty, or earthy and grounded, or perhaps, like mine, it’s fun and wild!
In any case, the words you choose also define who your audience is going to be. If I’m into feminine pink and pearls with flowers I am not going to buy jewelry for myself from a shop that sells minimalistic black and white jewelry am I?
Now that you understand what the holistic definition of a brand is, let’s move onto marketing your brand.
Every single thing you post out there needs to stay inline with your brand vibe. It really all boils down to that!
Don’t have a brand vibe yet?
Quick Tip >> a brand mood board really helps to visualize your brand vibe – use a Pinterest board to collect images, colors, logos, and more to make a quick brand mood board so you can keep referencing back to your brand vibe!
This means you need to be conscious of the colors you use, the tone of voice when your writing and most importantly the types and styles of images you choose to market your brand with.
Overall you’re looking to achieve a consistent and cohesive look and feel to your brand so people can start to associate who you are and what you do and how you do it by seeing the images you are using.
So how can I align stock photos with my brand?
1. Find photos that match your brand colors (broadly speaking)
This doesn’t mean every single color must be present in the photo. No, what I mean to say is that the overall tonality of the photo should match your brand colors. Taking the same feminine flower example as above — If my brand colors were softer pinks and pastels with off-white, I would be looking for images that have more subdued tones and perhaps even a misty filter over them. See the examples below.
I definitely wouldn’t want black and white photos or photos with high contrast colors like the ones below.
Think about the vibe of the photo – your brand has a vibe too right ? – make sure they match!
Remember when I asked you what your brand words were? This is where they can come in useful! If your brand is earthy and grounded your not going to want fluoro colors or a techie looking photo are you?
No, you’re looking for muted tones, perhaps lots of greenery, warmer colors (not bright reds though!) perhaps images that relate more to nature….
Here’s an example: I sell organic homemade skin care, and my brand colors are luscious greens, turquoise and browns. My brand is all about natural beauty and taking care of oneself (these are my brand ideals) – the words I describe my brand are natural and fresh.
Below are some stock images that I would want my brand to be associated with – take a moment to notice how the images make you feel…
Each of the stock photos you want to be using for your marketing needs to fit into your brand mood board (or Pinterest board) and the aesthetic flow of the mood board should not be interrupted. Use that as a rule of thumb to help you sift through the thousands of stock photos you see when your searching!
Quick tip >> when searching for stock photos, make a mind-map of all possible emotions, feelings, styles, colors and scenarios you want to be represented in the photo. This will give you a big list of alternative keyword terms to search for and it will help you to stay away from cliché stock photos which are overused!
If you keep both my points above in mind when searching for stock photos you should be able to find images that make your brand shine bright instead of confuse your audience. This is key to using stock photos in marketing. No one wants to see the boring overused and emotionally-void stock photo. We all want to see images that we can relate to, that draw us in further, that make us yearn to work with you or buy something from you.
So go on, go back to your branding. Have your brand colors in front of you and the words of your brand vibe by your side search for that perfectly aligned stock photo.
All photo examples used in this blog post came from The Photo Forest.
Meet Nora Wendel, the mastermind behind the amazing new stock photo site The Photo Forest!
Nora calls herself a “Creatress of Beauty” and runs online design agency for #fempreneurs who are ready to beautify their businesses.
Stock photography is a topic she rants about frequently. This led her to create The Photo Forest; the world’s first community driven stock photography website where members get to request the type of images they need.
She is on a mission to bring back #SexyStockPhotos and to revolutionize the stock photography industry. Sign up to the pre-registration list and get 10 beautiful REAL LIFE stock photos instantly!