30 Mar Is There Stock in Stock?

A picture is worth a thousand words. This proverb is especially true in the marketing world. The imagery used in digital content significantly impacts the way consumers perceive a brand. Designers are tasked with finding images that accurately reflect the tone, style, and message of a business. This process often includes choosing between the use of stock images or real photos from the client. Though stock images are visually appealing, many consumers prefer organic photographs. With the growing popularity of visually-based content and advertising, marketing professionals will have to decide if there is still stock in using stock photos.

Incorporating images into your content affects how consumers feel, how they engage, and how they spend. Content that includes relevant, high quality images receives 94% more views, 120% more engagement, and its reach spans across platforms and an array of topics. Not only are consumers more likely to view visual content, they’re also more likely to make a purchase decision based on it. MDG Advertising surveyed online shoppers and found that 67% of participants believed high quality images were more important than product information and descriptions, and even ratings from other customers. Though the benefits of using images are significant, just any image won’t properly represent your brand. The type of image used and how you use it is just as important.

Stock images versus real photos is a debate as old as time. Stock photographs are easy to acquire, cheap to use, and ready-made for countless scenarios. Need a photo of a woman cheerfully eating a salad for your foodie blog? There’s a stock photo for that. What about a fitness photo for your healthy living brand? There’s a photo for that too. Stock photos have a ubiquitous nature that make them effective in a variety of campaigns. Nevertheless, the conundrum that many brands face is that stock photos are often widely distributed and overused, resulting in competing brands using similar images; some of which even include the same models.

Real photos counteract this issue with originality. By taking your own photos, you’re able to customize your image to meet your exact specifications. You also have the advantage of creating an image that hasn’t been seen before, thus setting yourself apart from your competition. The upside of using real photos is full creative control. The downside involves logistics; the cost of hiring a photographer, the labor performed by your team, and the time it takes to coordinate and complete a photoshoot. Taking your own original photos can result in breathtaking visuals that stand out in a sea of generic stock images, but your business has to have the time and capital to make it worthwhile.

One solution to the stock versus real debate is to use a little bit of both. Take advantage of the cost-efficiency and high quality of stock photos and combine that with the creative editing and original flair of real photos. With the right design strategy, you can turn a generic stock photo into a one-of-a-kind visual masterpiece. As long as you’re willing to get creative, there will always be benefits to stock imagery.

Bruce Freides