Adopting authenticity in your imagery, the death of the stock image

11th January 2022

The death of the stock image is down to the sheer overuse of images as digital marketers began to add life to their content. Royalty-free images are freely available online for all to use, but there is no easy way to track who else is using them. This has meant the stock image is no longer as desirable as it once was. GottaBe! Ethnic will be looking at stock images and helping you understand how best to adopt imagery that represents ethnic minorities authentically. 

Why is it essential to adopt authenticity in your imagery?

Authentic images have proven to increase conversion rates. Bllush, a visual content agency, saw a 3 fold increase in ad click-through rates when user-generated photos were used over stock images. Images bring content to life, but when the consumer has seen the image used repeatedly, the impact of the image reduces. Consumers start to ignore what they have already seen, especially if it delivers differing messages. 

The images we see online give us a sense of belonging. So, your brand must use images authentically to target ethnic audiences, who are rarely represented through the images we see online.  The experience of seeing someone like you reflected in an image is empowering for consumers as it shows them that your brand values them as customers. But if your brand chooses exceedingly used stock images of ethnic people, audiences will recognise the lack of authenticity and look to shop elsewhere. 

GottaBe! Ethnic has a range of models and can help you create targeted campaigns to represent your audience. We recently teamed up with Save the Children to encourage ethnic audiences to adopt. The team here at GottaBe! Ethnic organised a photoshoot that included ethnic models, photographers, and editors, allowing Save the Children to deliver storytelling through original imagery.

Seeing a product being used by other consumers will sell the product better as it helps customers know why they need your product. This is one of the many reasons influencer marketing has become more popular over the years; it has been proven to increase conversion. Influencer marketing builds brand awareness as the content creators create authentic images and are trusted sources. 

Why is authentic imagery so important?

Images help create the first impression of your brand; it takes only 13 milliseconds for the human brain to process an image. Capturing your audience’s attention through imagery will allow you to engage them with your content more effectively. 

To reach ethnic audiences and show your target audience you care about their needs, your brand will need to choose or create an image that will appeal to them. A photo or graphic representing an ethnic minority will build on brand purpose. We know from our previous blogs that brand purpose helps secure brand loyalty, meaning consumers will return to your brand. By authentically adopting imagery, your brand can reach the 69% of ethnic minorities that feel UK media does not represent them—targeting a new audience that is typically hard to reach. 

Users are bored of the same images. With the choice of stock images even thinner that include ethnic models, it is easy to see why consumers ignore marketing materials. We understand that finding the right image can be difficult, and that is why we have models and photographers on hand so you can create engaging campaigns that stand out. 

When using stock images goes wrong

There have been many cases of stock images being used repeatedly, which have caused companies to go viral. One of the most well known is the ‘hide the pain Harold’ meme, which quickly went viral across the globe. The stock image was briefly the front of a COVID-19 vaccination site booking page until the Swedish health company was inundated by the meme. The image was quickly removed as it could not portray the important message the image was initially intended for. There have been many cases of big brands using the same imagery as their competitors; all have seen their marketing scrutinised. If you cannot create original imagery, your brand should run a google image search to see where else the image has been used. This way, you can understand the reach a stock image has. 

Where is it most important to use authentic imagery?

The images your brand puts on your website are crucial as they create a high level of engagement. They help you to stand out from the crowd. Using authentic images is vital as it builds a strong brand purpose and positions your company by sharing your values with consumers. Original images help build trust with your audience as it shows the personality of your business, and consumers can put a face to the brand. 

An image can also help break up long text pieces and add extra information consumers cannot get from text alone. Studies show that 80% of people remember what they see, compared to 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read. A good image will resonate with your audience, building brand recall. 

How to adopt an authentic approach to imagery?

There are many ways to adopt a more authentic approach to your imagery but don’t worry; this doesn’t have to be expensive. 

Get your audience involved 

Depending on your brand, one way to avoid a stock image is to reach out to your consumers and ask them to send you their own photos that they would be happy to use on your site/ marketing. Your brand can use your audience to create a stockpile of images; this could be through a # or competition. Not only will your brand gain a collection of pictures, but you can also showcase your products/ services by using your audiences images, creating deeper connections with customers.

Use what you have around you 

If you are looking for images to include in your blogs or social media, another way to generate images is to use the people you have around you. Smartphone quality has come a long way, and images captured on a phone can easily pass on a blog or site. Original content shows your consumers that your brand has taken the time and effort to create images they can resonate with. You can take photos of your workspace, products and staff (permission permitting, of course) at no cost. Whilst this is not as fast and convenient as pulling stock images off the internet, it is a low-cost alternative to hiring professionals and will see higher engagement. 

Invest in professionals 

If you have the budget, investing in imagery may be the better option in the long run. Hiring photographers to shoot the images to suit your brand values is more effective and shows the consumer you care. Hiring a photographer to create a series of images may save your brand money when you consider the cost of buying the rights of stock images. 

An alternative to photographs is graphics or illustrations. During the pandemic, GottaBe! Ethnic worked with artists to create graphics/ illustrations to target ethnic audiences. This way, you can avoid the monotony of stock images. The other benefit of creating images is that you have complete control over how the image looks, and you can then tailor it to the brand’s needs. 

Our digital experts can guide you through this process if your brand does decide to invest in professionals with models, photographers and graphic designers on hand.

Look past the first page 

If you cannot avoid using stock images, look further than the first or second page. These images will be the ones that have not been used as much and hopefully still have some impact on consumers. Along with avoiding the images on the first pages, your brand needs to avoid the stock images which are stereotypical and not culturally correct. Looking for an image with a natural, candid look will be more appealing than an overly friendly smiling face. Customers like to feel they can relate to your brand. 

Taking time to source authentic images that represents more than one demographic will help to increase the awareness of your brand and show your customers you care. But this should be more than one of the limited selections of stock images, including ethnic minorities. 

The design team here at GottaBe! Ethnic can create original illustrations that will reach ethnic audiences. Our services also include models, photographers and videographers who can create images tailored to your brand. As multicultural marketing specialists, we understand how to connect with the hard to reach. Contact the team today on +442380 634283 to learn more about our services and start adopting authentic images in your marketing. 

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