Un-stock your Visual Content Marketing

David Vaassen - Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Too Much Content!

Today we live in a content marketing driven world.

Native Ads in your social feeds, How To and Self Improvement Websites, Content Marketing emails,  Fake News, Click Bait Memes ... it's all a form of content marketing, and it fills our day, our media and our inbox,

There's so much content now that we simply don't have time to read it all.

....or we simply filter it out.


Visual Content to the Rescue

A good visual (Image, Video, Gif, Cinema-graph) still has the power to cut through the noise and grab attention.

We all understand the "A picture is worth a thousand words" principal, and our digital devices today make it easier than ever to create, deliver and consume visual media from images to video, in vast quantities.

Evidence the rise of Instagram and Youtube in particular.

The demand from Brands and Marketers for good visual content is exploding.

Marketers everywhere are scrambling to find and share visual content. Not just because visuals help tell our stories - but a great image, gif, video or graphic can cut through the noise.


The Rise of the Stock Image

As a result Marketers often resort to stock photo sites such as Getty, iStock, Adobe, etc. It's often quick and convenient and saves having to think too much about it.

Just search for a cool image, click buy, pay and boom - here's some content.

While it's true that the stock image vendors are upping their game and premium stock is getting better and better, it's still someone else's image.

Stock content has some inherent problems.

Stock content is great to get you out of an urgent bind, it's convenient (mostly), but has some real issues for a brands that aim to tell authentic stories.


  1. It's not yours, it's not authentic and not unique to you.
  2. Usage is typically restricted in some way.
  3. It's embarrassing (for major brands especially).
From a branding point of view, it's vital that we are telling and communicating honest and authentic stories, visuals included.

Energy company numbers stock image

Screenshot from website.

Look at this example from The Energy Number Company.

It's clearly a stock photo, nice shot, nice model, but it's not real, it's not authentic, it's fake -  it's junk content.

And if you think use of stock photos is limited to small companies with small marketing budgets - think again.

Accenture Consulting use of a stock image

Screenshot from Accenture website.



Look at this screenshot from a major consulting firm, Accenture, who are using the stock image featuring the same model from the same photoshoot, on their web page about Call Centres.

They even use the copy "Call centre employees are more important than ever".  

Given the nature of the information and likely investment in this product,  you would think then that they should have invested in their own photography of their own call center staff.  

This approach doesn't do much for the Accenture brand other than break up the text with a pretty image.

By contrast, A photo of a real staff member or a customer with your product (authenticity beats a perfectly composed image every time) is far more powerful than a stock image.


An example of the use of Authentic images by BizDojo

e.g. BizDojo uses it's own authentic images


Most consumers have an incredibly powerful filter between there ears and can typically spot a stock image when it's used, just as a web page that hasn't been updated in a while, is easy to spot.

Seeing a stock image doesn't engender a sense of trust in the brand - no matter how much you paid to licence it.

Many Brands are just not investing enough time or care into the content they choose to tell the Brand's story.

With the development of better and better camera's on smartphones and an army of users capable of creating great images, there really no excuse for not generating your own content.

So what has good modern brand and marketing team to do?


Un-stock your Visuals

In principal, stop using (or use less) stock content and invest in your own authentic, original content. Then create a visual content library for your staff and partners to access your un-stocked content. Tell your own authentic visual story and build a stronger brand.

Do this:-

  1. Build your own visual library (using Brandkit of course :)
  2. Stock it with your own authentic and original content
  3. Commission original content
  4. Utilise Customer/User generated content
  5. Share your Visual Content widely
  6. Encourage use (with attribution where appropriate)
  7. Keep your library stocked with fresh content (and retire overused or out of date content)
  8. Licence other peoples content if you must, but aim for full unlimited usage rights or better yet outright ownership.


The best visual content is authentic, resonates with your audience
and is owned by you.


Also, checkout this article from the Content Marketing Institute


Some other articles on Stock Photos

Business.com The Truth Behind Stock Photos: What Works and What Doesn’t

Hubspot: 13 Hilarious Examples of Truly Awful Stock Photography

Adobe:  Adobe Turned the Worst Stock Photos Into a New Clothing Line

Happy Branding :)

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