Why Stock Design Can Ruin Your Content Strategy

A potential customer is browsing your website. They’re excited by what your company can offer them and are about to navigate to your contact form. But as they scroll through photos on your About page, one image catches their eye. It’s a group of businesspeople in a conference room, all smiling, laughing, and pointing at a laptop screen. Why do they pause here? The image may seem a little far-fetched for a corporate meeting, but that’s not why they’re hesitating. Instead, it’s because they use that very same stock photo on their own website … and now they’re questioning both your company’s visual content strategy and their own! 

We know that stock visuals and photos have long been a part of content strategy for brands of all industries. And that’s because they’re often cheaper, faster, and easier to obtain compared to custom work. But you get what you pay for — a generic approach seen on hundreds of other designs. So here’s why stock images are harming your content strategy

Quality Over Quantity

If you’re exploring stock photography or design for your content, we’d argue that you should reassess the importance of the content you’re putting out. Is it truly more important for you to launch a piece (or multiple rapidfire pieces) that’s recognizable from other places or even practically invisible? Or, is it better to get ahead of the next opportunity and take the time to create memorable content? In most cases, the latter is your best approach. 

And if it’s a matter of being hesitant to work with vendors or freelancers due to past experience — or worse, if you don’t trust your in-house team — the more critical issue is likely that you haven’t found the right partner yet. So don’t let past experience get in the way of future success!

In all, you created your content strategy and content calendar for strong reasons. And you deserve to produce quality work with each piece you’ve planned.

Visual Content and Brand Perception

Brand consistency has been linked to a 33% boost in revenue for businesses. So it follows that establishing a clear brand identity to work with your content strategy is essential. But here’s the thing. Brand consistency isn’t working in your favor if you’re using consistently dull visuals. So if stock imagery is a part of your brand, consider that it sets a low bar for how your audience views you at each interaction. 

Brand perception is all about how your target audience perceives your business, and especially how they perceive you relative to the competition. If they’re seeing the same stock imagery or aesthetic across multiple brands — or if your competitors simply outshine you in visual content — then it becomes an issue of customer attraction and retention. Ultimately, all of this can affect your bottom line. When it comes to visual content, put your best foot forward.

Refreshing Your Visual Content Strategy

So you’re ditching the stock imagery. How do you build a successful, memorable brand? Whether you’re launching a new business or navigating a brand refresh, there’s a lot to consider. Take your time in developing a brand that speaks to your strengths and values and really connects with your target audience. Start by understanding who your customers are and what they look to you for — remember brand perception! And leverage a trusted partner who can assess the landscape of your industry and the positioning of your brand to create something truly special. 

Need a consultation on how to move ahead without stock imagery? We’d love to speak with you!

Lucy Todd

Author Lucy Todd

Lucy Todd is the Chief Process Officer at Killer Visual Strategies. She is a Seattle native and Western Washington University graduate. Her degree in Creative Writing and her customer service background both inform her work daily. A Killer employee since 2011 and executive since 2014, Lucy has researched for, written, and/or project-managed over 4,000 projects for the company, affording her key insight into our processes and projects. This experience is invaluable in allowing her to lead and empower Killer’s content and project management teams to success. Lucy enjoys managing the day-to-day at the office, offering a unique perspective when a team or colleague feels stuck, and learning from her peers and clients each day.

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