Stock photography is a handy tool that can save you time searching or creating images and videos for your digital platforms — be it your corporate website, blog, or accounts in social networks. When there is no money and time to create visual assets on their own, brands use stock photos that can become a good solution when approached smartly.
However, it may sometimes happen that stock photos have a weak connection with the brand, so using them leads to a “blur” of positioning and a decrease in audience confidence. Some visuals may not match your corporate identity. To avoid this from happening, we will tell you how to use stock content correctly so that the brand does not suffer and the effectiveness of communications increases.
Role of the Brand & Corporate Identity in the Choice of Photos
There are three different brand components that influence the choice of free stock images for your project: audience, character, and visual language. Let’s analyze them so that you know what to focus on when picking/working on the stock visual.
Communication without understanding who it is aimed at is far from being effective. To make your photos “hit” the audience, personalize them as much as possible. In addition to age, gender, and social status, think about the motivation, needs, hobbies, life principles of your target audience. Based on this information, create a brand persona — a generalized image that reflects the target audience, and adapt your visual communication for it.
2. The Voice of Your Brand
The voice of a brand is a set of human qualities and inherent values. Visual communications perfectly convey the voice (character) of the brand through the use of vivid associations and metaphors. If the values of the brand and the audience match, people become its advocates and vote for it. The character of the brand must be present in all visual communications; otherwise, it will be blurred. Always keep in stock a few images that match it so that you don’t have to use the first photo you come across.
3. Visual Language
Visual language is the most recognizable brand element that should be present in digital communications by dint of stock images. Some bright examples are Coca-Cola’s trademark red, Apple’s apple. In case you have no clue how to make the image language work for you, there are three tools for adapting images to the visual language of a brand:
- Color correction — It is the use of filters and overlays. With their help, you can add the colors of the brand without compromising the content of the photo.
- Text — Any stock image can be adapted to the visual language of the brand by adding text in the corporate font. The text should duplicate the accompanying message or supplement it.
- Graphic elements — This way of branding images allows you to make them look less “stocky.” It is enough to add a logo, lettering, pattern, or other elements of the corporate identity.
Apart from the above, you should never forget about the main idea behind using a visual asset on the page — communicating with your audience.
The Role of Communication
The nature and content of the message play no less essential role in the choice of the photo than the components of the brand. The correct image does not live separately from the message but corresponds, complements, and enhances it.
1. Compliance With the Emotional Background
The mood of the photo should match the emotional background of the message it accompanies. Photos convey hundreds of different emotions and their shades. A well-chosen image enhances the emotional background of the message, reinforces the message, and makes you pay attention to it.
2. Relevance to Context
Photos should be consistent with the context of the message in which they are used. The context includes the content of the message, its idea, and calls to action if any. If you forget about the context, you mislead the audience and will reduce the effectiveness of the message.
3. Communication With a Product or Service
If the message is about the product, then it is better to use a photo with its image. However, there are often no resources and no time to create such photos. In addition, in the image communications about the product, you can do without them. Follow one of two principles to stay connected with your product:
- Use symbols and associations that reflect the purpose of the product;
- If using photos with models, shift the focus towards the activity with which the product is associated.
4. Uniformity of Images
If you plan to use stock content to visualize a series of posts or an entire ad campaign, pay attention to its consistency. Look for a series of similar images that can be used for a long time. There are several tools to search for them in photo banks:
- A series of photographs from one survey;
- Similar photos;
- Photos with the same model;
- Search for photos in the author’s portfolio.
These will help you tell a story without breaking the lines. Knowing how to use stock photos will give you a lot of advantages and will help you optimize your effort for running digital projects.