How to Choose Stock Photos that Best Represent Your Brand

by Bianca Hanson, Senior Social Media & Creative Specialist

The time old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words couldn’t be truer, especially in the digital age. We are always seeing brand’s photos on websites, social media ads, in our highly curated Instagram feeds, and in blog posts just like this one amongst many other places. And, with scrutinizing eyes on the web, it has never been more important to choose these images carefully.

With so many things to consider, how would you know where to start? That’s where we come in. In today’s blog post we are covering the eight most important questions to ask yourself when sifting through and ultimately choosing stock photography for your brand.

8 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing Photos

1 | Does this photo represent my brand and its values?

Your core values should be top-of-mind when you’re choosing images to include in your marketing collateral. Whether you strive to be inclusive in showcasing diversity or want all of your photos to feel business more than casual, it is important to choose accordingly. Use keywords in your searches to narrow down the selection.

2 | Is this photo going to resonate with my audience?

Do you know your target audience? If not, now is the time to get acquainted with them. This could vary post-to-post, but it is important. If you are targeting millennials in a specific ad set, then sharing photos of senior citizens will miss the mark and vice versa. Whomever you intend to target should be showcased in the images you select.

3 | Will I like how this looks with my content mix?

If you are an established brand, then you want to stay on-brand across platforms. Look at the images you are currently using and make decisions based on what will align with those. Unless you are looking to revamp your current “look” then you won’t want to stray too far from the style and aesthetic you are using now.

4 | Is this photo free of controversial and offensive imagery?

I cannot stress enough the importance of analyzing EVERY part of the image you want to use. Look in the foreground, background, and minute details of the image you are considering. Is someone making a cruel gesture behind the main subject? Scrap it. Is there a political sign that might bring you the wrong attention? Don’t use it.

5 | Does this image relate to the copy beside it?

So, you found a great image – we love to hear that. However, does this image relate to the copy you plan on posting with it? Dropping a photo into a blog post can be helpful unless that photo is out of place. You can save photos you like in a folder for later but don’t use it unless it fits with the copy accompanying it.

6 | On which channels do I plan to share this photo?

This is one of the most important questions to ask because not every photo makes sense for every platform. If you’re sharing on Instagram, then you may need to crop this image and if you are sharing on your website then it may need to meet a minimum resolution requirement. Always consider where it’s going and how it’s being used.

7 | Am I free to use this photo however I want?

Copyright law is a real thing, and it can cost you anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars if not taken seriously. Always look at the rights to a photo and make sure to either 1) find fair-us images or 2) purchase the correct license before plastering the image all over your website. Doing your due diligence can save you time and money.

8 | If I’m purchasing this image, how can I repurpose it to get my money’s worth?

Back to our earlier point about copyright, not all images are fair use. If an image is copyrighted, then you may need to purchase the rights to it. Before dropping big bucks on an image that won’t get you far, think about where you can repurpose that image to make the most of it. If it is only going up on social media and can’t be used in other marketing collateral, then consider finding an alternative that won’t break the bank.

4 Places to Find Free and Paid Stock Photos

  1. Unsplash | Free
  2. Envato Elements | Paid
  3. Pexels | Free
  4. Adobe Stock | Paid

One of the tips that has proven valuable for me is taking advantage of free time to comb through stock photo websites. I save a folder labeled with the site name and then download any that might be helpful for the agency or our clients into it. This way, if you are really in a pinch then you might just have something already saved to share with the snap of a finger.

Photos pull our websites, ads, social media, and traditional marketing efforts together. You want to represent your brand in the best light and avoid controversy wherever possible. We hope this guide helps to build your photo-searching confidence and increases your awareness of how, when, where, and why you should and could be using images.

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