Personal Branding, Entrepreneurial Marketing, Faith

A picture is worth 1,000 words, and those words can be good or bad.  If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the following post around the topic of stock photos:

The problem with stock photos…

Yes, I believe that stock photos are a thing of the past. Here are my top three reasons why:

  • As Mark Schaefer says, “The most human company wins,” and honestly, stock photos are far from human. Just take a look:

The problem with stock photos…

How many more “thumbs up” pictures do we need to see? Or how about the professional woman in a suit?

The problem with stock photos…

Consumers today are looking for real. They are looking for authenticity. And unfortunately, 95% of the stock photos out there, do not provide that. As Schaefer says, “when you use stock photos, the message you convey is, ‘even we don’t care.'”

  • Another problem with stock photos is that they are being used by multiple companies. The issue with this is you end up creating a generic brand (more on that below), and in a world that is inundated with marketing noise, you end up blending in rather than standing out. Consumers today can spot a stock photo a mile away.
  • Lastly, it’s super important to create a brand identity, and stock photos will not do that for you. What is a brand identity? I believe Hubspot gives a great definition: “A brand identity is made up of what your brand says, what your values are, how you communicate your product, and what you want people to feel when they interact with it. Essentially, your brand identity is the personality of your business and a promise to your customers.” The key words here, communicate, feel, and personality. Every visual you utilize and the words you use, point back to your company and the brand that you are creating. Stock photos don’t allow you to create a brand identity that will help you stand out in the marketplace. The last thing you want is to be generic, and unfortunately, that’s what stock photos do, they provide a “generic identity” that will get lost in the marketing noise.

A key marketing goal is to make a personal and emotional connection with people, and one of the best ways to do this is through your visuals. But beware, research has shown that “57% of respondents indicated that less than half of brand-created content resonates as authentic and 70% of the time, consumers can distinguish between consumer-created content and brand-created content” (Social Media Today).

So, what should you do as an entrepreneur with limited funds and staff?  Use your phone. Here’s the truth: consumers prefer seeing less-than-perfect pictures that are real, over stock photos. Don’t be afraid to use the camera on your phone to capture the life, story, and personality of your business. The more “real” pictures you can incorporate into your marketing, the more engagement and trust you’ll create, which will ultimately translate into business.

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