Visuals: Why Brands Need To Move Away From Stock Photos


Scroll down your social media timeline briefly and you are bound to be confronted by an ad. A characteristic you will notice from most of them is that the visual elements are largely reflective of stock photos. The reason for this is that stock photos are easy to find, affordable and effective time savers.

While no one would mind over-dependence of stock photo used in regular WordPress blogs, brands should be aware that stock photography use in disseminating their visual content is losing its niche as an eye-catching art form in their messaging. A lot of users simply scroll over or don’t pay much attention to content with visibly generic stock images. The cons of stock photography don’t end there.

Fake it till you make it?

The premise of using stock photos is usually to showcase environments, sentiments or products and services that are reflective of a business setup. While some blend in seamlessly, others don’t and fail to capture in entirety what your business is about. They put some distance between your messaging and your brand, making it look distant, uninviting and on an overly fabricated exterior.

Copy Cats

Stock photos are in abundance in the digital space. What makes their prominence even more nuancing for a brand is that the stock photo sites sell the same images non-exclusively to willing buyers increasing the likelihood that another brand may already be using the same image you want to or have used. This instantly kills the originality of the visual representation of your brands content.


Visual assets are meant to help your brand create a strong presence online, literally and metaphorically speaking. And stock photos were for some time revolutionary to this effect, but time has caught up with the trend. So how does a brand make maximum use of visual assets to give content that they have worked on a better chance to shine on marketing platforms?


The Fix

It is impossible to do away with stock photo usage, not in reality but for most brands of course.  What they should instead do is make a major shift towards creating their own visual assets to better connect with audiences and aid their understanding of your brand in an authentic manner.

Shooting photos with a good camera is not a big deal when you consider Instagram is a photo sharing platform with millions of users. If you can’t-do it yourself then hire a professional photographer to do it for you. Hire creative design employees who are able to formulate their own ideas into concrete visual output other than depending on editing as their main role. When you do this, not only do you ensure the originality of your brand’s content, you also maintain ownership of the photos and you don’t have to worry about a rival brand using your photos without consent.

Ultimately, finding a balance between when to use stock photos and your own creations is the key to avoid the scroll effect from users and get your content shared creating more awareness for your brand.

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Ken is a marketing strategist working with various brands online. He is passionate about helping businesses build relationships by providing actionable insights on online marketing and advertising trends.