How to use stock photography and still stay “on-brand”

Use Stock Photography for Your Business

Picture this…it’s Monday morning and you’ve got your caramel macchiato in hand ready to take on the week for your online business. You sit down to schedule your content for the week on social media only to realize that you don’t have graphics?! What are you going to do now?? You don’t have time to snap your own branded photos…who even knows where the notebook you normally use went? The clock is ticking and you end up pushing your posts another day, it will be ok right?

Wouldn’t we all love to hire a branding photographer to create “on-brand” photos just for our business? It would totally solve this problem. You would have a stock pile of photos in your colors that are related to what you do. It would be lovely right?

But most of the time we don’t have the extra money to invest in custom stock photography based on our business colors. And I don’t know about you but even trying to get office supplies and decor that you have to store in between when you are snapping photos is also a crazy notion. I don’t have room for 4 staplers, 6 vases, pens/pencils and notebooks that I don’t use to keep them in pristine condition.

That’s where stock photography comes in and save the day. It is also the source of the question I received.

What are your thoughts on random stock photos and just placing your logo or other brand identifier item on it versus a core theme with colors, fonts, graphics, emotional feel to have an aesthetically appealing brand?

Using stock photography can be a lifesaver in your business. It takes a lot of time to create content and then the graphics that go along with them. So stock photography can be a benefit when it comes to getting a consistent visual feel for your brand but also to saving you time. But there is a right way and a wrong way to use stock photography and I’m not a big fan of grabbing photos online randomly and slapping your logo on it and calling it a day.

You do want to include your logo/website/name something so that people can come back to you when they come across your image online but creating your graphics needs to go one step further than that.

Taking random graphics and using them in your online social media strategy isn’t going to look professional. It isn’t going help you build recognition and it isn’t going to be cohesive. It is actually going to hurt your relationship with potential clients if your graphics don’t have that cohesive feel to the feed.

Consistency

The biggest thing about branding is the consistency component. YOU want to make sure that you are visually consistent and sometimes grabbing random stock photos can work in your favor and sometimes they just make your social media feeds look like a hot mess.

You could just through your logo on the image and calling it a day doesn’t help your branding. In fact, just throwing your logo on it just makes it look like you’ve taken someone else’s graphic and are trying to pass it off as your own. You might even have every right from the original owner to use it for your business but it will still stick out like a sore thumb.

Having that “core theme” with your branded elements as part of your graphics strengthens your consistency and helps you establish your branding online.

Pros of having branded stock photos

1) Completely unique to you
2) Photography and editing style are consistent
3) The subjects of your photos are in line with your business

If you have the money to invest in custom branded stock photos then do it. It will help you stand out because you’re photos aren’t going to look like everyone else’s online. And they will match your branding specifically.

How to make stock photography work for your brand

Now you are probably thinking… but wait didn’t you say that it would be nice but expensive to have custom stock photography??

Stock photography can still work for your businesss even if it isn’t a 100% match to your brand. You just have to be a little more strategic about finding and using the stock photos to keep that consistency for your brand.

You have to ask yourself a couple of questions before using any random stock photos that you find…

1) Are they bright and airy or dark and moody? Basically, does the image convey the personality of your business?
2) Does the subject in the image fit with the topic I’m attaching it to?

One way you can use stock photos is to find a bundle of photos for sale. That way you get a core of 15-20 images to use in your graphics that are all consistent with each other. Look for images that are using similar colors to your branding and have those basic elements we talked about above.

Be picky about what photos you choose to use from the stock photography pool. Consider making your own graphic quotes to use on your channels. This way they are always “on-brand” and they use your fonts/colors rather than random colors and fonts that someone else chose.

Tips for making stock photography work

And to wrap up this post here are some tips for making stock photography work for your brand. Some I already touched on in the article but I wanted to make a single spot with the nuts and bolts.

  1. Be picky.
  2. Look for bundles that you can purchase that use similar colors to your brand
  3. Use colored overlay’s in your brand colors to bring in your branding
  4. Create a template that always has the same elements like borders/lines/embellishments
  5. Use your branded fonts
  6. Create your own quote graphics with your fonts and colors
  7. Be consistent. Try it out for a few weeks and track your numbers before making any adjustments. This will help you stay on track and build recognition.

Do you need help making a graphics template for your branding? Check out the worksheet in my Free Resource Library to help you put one together!

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2 thoughts on “How to use stock photography and still stay “on-brand”

  1. Great post! I wrote about this on my own blog. Stock photos can be really helpful, especially when you have so much on your plate already. I specifically love your suggestion about waiting a few weeks before determining whether something worked or not. We’re always in such a hurry and if we don’t see results RIGHT AWAY we think things didn’t work. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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