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Integrating stock photos with your brand


Buying stock images is a very niche skill. As a stock photo buyer, someone representing a company or your brand, you must be mindful of several aspects to ensure you pick the right image. The million-dollar question is, “what parameters do you’ve to watch out for?” Let’s look at some of those major parameters and aspects.

Consistency with your brand and its visual identity, including color, style, and tone

When choosing stock images, watch for elements like visual communication, color, tone, and style. You’re looking for tell-tale signs that the image matches your brand’s visual identity before it can be considered a good fit for the specific project.

If your brand is about happy faces, vibrant colors, and hope, you should always levitate toward brightly lit images featuring smiling faces and generally representing a happy vibe. If your brand is about travel accommodations or homestays, choose detailed photos that are well-edited and have a lot of contrast and dynamic range.

Colors not only set the mood and the tone, but they are also a representation of your business. The colors representing your business tell a lot about the brand, what it stands for, and its values. It can even tell a lot about the target audience of the business. Thus, when choosing a stock image for your brand, you wouldn’t want to tinker with the colors that represent the tone you want to portray to your customers.

Also, choose stock images that are a valuable addition to the textual and other content. Choose images that will go naturally with the general flow of your website. That includes colors that are complementary to your brand. Also, choosing colors that don’t distract the text and the generally written copy of the website will ensure that viewers won’t find it difficult to read.

Choose images that feel more natural and suit your needs

People tend to easily identify when images are cheesy. A room full of serious-looking professionals in their business suits and laptops is an instant giveaway that the image is trying too hard to convey a message. A group of young college-goers poring over books is also a cheesy advertisement for an educational program.

Replace the first image with a group of professionals who seem calm and relaxed and engaged “naturally”. They don’t necessarily have to look into the camera. In the second instance, a similar group of college-going teenagers hanging out together against a bright, cheerful background, smiling at each other or even looking at the camera, is a better shot to use as an advertisement for a great campus life. If you’re trying to reach out to international students, having a multi-ethnic representation in that image would be great.

The gaze or the angle of the gaze can also determine audience engagement. Studies have shown that when a model is looking away from the audience, that captivates the audience’s attention more than when the model is looking straight at the audience. [Fashion]( brands use this technique to create ads where the model is looking away from the audience.

However, when the model looks straight at the audience, it can signify trust and is often used by organizations in the hospitality or healthcare industries to communicate trustworthiness.
When choosing the images for your business, also ensure that the images are representative of the culture and the people of the place if that’s something relevant to your business. For example, if you run a travel business focused on South-East Asia travel, it would help if the stock images represent the place’s diverse cultures. You can choose images that represent the many different cultures that make up the socio-political fabric of the place, the faces of people that represent those countries, and symbols of architecture that add value to your website.

Try and use images that are exclusive and not used by your competition

One way to ensure exclusivity for your marketing material and branding efforts is to use exclusive images with stock images, which can only be possible when you license “Rights Managed” images and get an exclusive licensing agreement. That said, this is also the most expensive way to go. But, considering that the next option would be to go through the hassle of hiring a photographer, explaining the concept, waiting for the photographer to turn around, and finally signing off to accept the final images, this is a much faster and more cost-effective option.

Worried if the images you’ve shortlisted are already used many times over? There are some pretty intelligent tools to check. You can use a tool called [Tineye]( that lets you see how often the images have been used and on which websites they have been used. Alternatively, you can also use Google Reverse Image search. This is built into your Google Chrome browser for your convenience.

Ensure that the images you use are licensed properly and appropriately to their usage case

Ensure that the images you choose to use are licensed properly and appropriately for your use. If you intend to make commercial use of the images, create derivatives, and then further sell them on your website, you need a commercial license that allows you to do so. If you take a general license for those images, your scope of use will be limited.

Some licenses, such as royalty-free, do allow some really interesting benefits. They’re simple to adhere to, as well. However, some limitations may hamper the use of the images beyond a certain number of times.

Also, knowing how to get an exclusive right to use an image can help you prevent using relevant images in the same industry or sector. As mentioned in the previous section, for many businesses, the photos must not be similar to the ones used by the competition.

The various usage cases and the general license types available have been detailed in a separate discussion. Do feel free to check them. You can learn about the many different license types, their advantages, your rights under those licenses, and your liabilities.

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