‘Custom Branding’ VS ‘Stock Photography’

Custom Branding Meets Stock Photography: Maximizing Your Brand’s Visual Impact

In this blog post I’m discussing the pros and cons of both, more importantly I’m leaving you with tips on how they can successfully work together in your brand.

VERSACE vs. GAP or can they be Worn Together?

Custom Branding vs. Stock Photography is like comparing Versace to GAP.

Maybe not quite the same but a similar ideology, if you bear with me as I explain.  Ask yourself how often do you pop on your favourite ‘T’ under that designer jacket, or the designer blouse with off the rack jeans.  If it coordinates, in my books its allowed to stay and be shown off together.  Because combined they tell the story, they complete the looks!!

So goes the use of stock photography alongside custom branding.  Custom branding is awesome don’t get me wrong.  I have many clients that I create beautiful stories for that tell their unique brand story.  BUT more often than not custom brand photos aren’t quite enough to meet all your visual needs .. queue up stock photography.  Stock photography can be your secret weapon when it comes to filling in the blanks to craft the perfect blog post, IG, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn to freebies and marketing materials, the list goes on…   

When people say the word STOCK photography most think of the big ones like – iStock, Getty Images, ADOBE even Canva.  BUT there are so many more sites out there can align with your brand without being overwhelming or come at a huge cost.  With the really large sites like mentioned above they have literally millions of photos, with loads of contributors. 

The downside of using large companies like Getty Images even Canva is:

  • The endless scroll to fine just one image, they have millions of users so you don’t know how many times that beautiful image you just found is really in use.
  • You don’t know how many people in the world are using that very beautiful image you just found. It could literally be millions.
  • Can you find any more from that same photographer to align with your brand style?

Unlock the Secrets of Boutique Stock Photography

The real secret .. Find a boutique stock photography company who’s images, align with your vision, your core values, one that will enable you build your brand and share your company’s story visually. 

The perks of a smaller company:

  • The images and design assets are most likely from the same creator, so there is a continuity, a style across all the imaging.  If their style aligns with yours, you will have LOADS to choose from.
  •  They are a smaller company so most likely the amount of people using the image are not in the millions, at the most 1000’s and that a small drop in the bucket when you look at the global picture of billions of people.
  • Its hugely cost effective compared to a branding session and you have WAY more images to play with. Many have a low cost subscription price, with new assets added monthly. This gives you fresh content to use on your marketing and social media, allowing you to look high-end and well put together, without the high-end price tag.

can you tell the difference?

This collection of photos is from a dietitians branded shoot, combined with two MSS collections.

Keren Reiser, Registered Dietitian –  https://kerenreiser.com/

Here are a Few Tips to Develop Your Brand ‘Authentically’ Using Stock Photos

Using stock photos is a great way to get your readers attention, stay on brand and look high-end. But using stock photos does come with some common concerns for business owners. From feeling disingenuous, to being worried you’ll look the same as everyone else, to not knowing if they’ll actually do anything for your growth.

They’re all valid questions, here are a few tips to help ease your mind with concerns about using stock and growing your brand authentically.

“I won’t feel genuine to my audience”

It’s a valid concern – and it’s great if you’ve got this concern as it shows being authentic is a really strong value for you. But when stock photos are used intentionally and with thought behind them to help and serve your audience, they can help you be more relatable and authentic.

“I’ll look like everyone else!”

Your aim is to be unique, so using the same stock images as everyone else kind of defeats the point, right? Wrong! Don’t forget – even the largest boutique stock photo libraries have only a few thousand members. Sounds like a lot but its tiny when it comes to the online world. So the chances of you coming across a business using the same stock photo as you is slim.

Don’t forget you can customize the images – with overlays, branded fonts etc.. once they pop into your branded material they will look like they are unique and original. 

Using a Boutique stock library is always going to be a better option than a massive, mega site or free stock photos – as there’s way less many people getting access to those images. So your odds of using the same image in the same capacity are ultra slim!

“They won’t match my branding”

It’s so important as an online business owner that you stand out. So won’t using stock photos make this harder?

Nope! It actually makes it easier. There’s so many ways you can customize stock photos to help them match your brand. From cropping, flipping and rotating to get more images out of one stock photo, to using them in branded graphics for blog posts and email headers, to overlaying pre-done edits (these are called presets) to give all your images the same style – the customization options are almost endless.

And with the right image library, curating cohesive images that work well together doesn’t have to be difficult either, as the photographer in question should be working hard to release collections which blend seamlessly with others – which leads to those stunning scroll-worthy Instagram feeds!

So you see, by using stock photos from a Boutique Stock Library, your business can look high-end, visually appealing and on brand all the time – and it’s the most cost effective, time-saving and headache-busting solution for your visual content creation.


I hope this has lifted a few myths about stock photography and will find you more confident in creating your brand using a mix of custom branding and boutique stock photos. Have fun creating!!

Here’s to building your brand and growing your business!!


Yours in creativity
Annemarie

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