Eight seconds. That’s how long you have to make an impact. As customer attention spans get shorter and shorter, visual content gets more important.
If a picture was worth a thousand words at the turn of the millennium, it’s worth even more now. Content still reigns as king—and visual content calls the shots in our fast-paced, snap-judgment world.
Marketers can wield imagery as a powerful tool to support their brand identity. But this is one area where you get what you pay for. Let’s take a look at your options and how you can get images that excite your customers and power your marketing ROI.
Consumers can spot cheap
You definitely have some options for free images—and they’ve come a long way. Google “free stock images” and you’ll return quite a few results.
Resources like Unsplash and Pexels give you access to a fairly broad variety of images to use for your visual content needs—from your website to your social media channels. And a lot of them look pretty good, too.
But here’s the thing. Your options are limited. You might be able to find compelling imagery that aligns with your messaging for a few ads or blogs. But you’ll quickly find the well runs dry. In a matter of weeks or months, you’re faced with a dilemma. Do you start using the same images you’ve used before, or do you use ones that only sort of fit your content plan?
As your company grows, this problem becomes more complex. If your team doesn’t have an approved image pool from which to pull, it’s common to end up with a mix of generic free stock images and Google image results.
When you try to use free images, you risk your brand identity. Some of the most common problems you’ll encounter include:
- Inconsistent quality: If employees are left to their own devices to source images on a budget, it’s easy for them to get tempted to settle. This might mean using low-resolution or poorly lit imagery.
- Unclear brand identity: Consumers lean heavily on brands’ imagery to help them understand the brand. When your imagery is all over the place, consumers have a harder time grasping your brand identity.
- Copyright infringement: While your team may try to use all of the proper channels to get images they can legally use, the waters there can be murky. Unattributed imagery opens you up to the risk of a steep copyright infringement penalty.
On top of all of this, consumers are savvier than ever before. If you’re leaning on a mishmash of free images of different qualities, your customers will probably notice. While their attention spans might not be long, they’re paying attention. They might be able to spot free — and if they do, it can compromise your brand.
They’re sick of stock
So where does that leave you? If you want a broader range of options while limiting your content production cost, you might think stock photos give you the best of both worlds.
Actually, though, stock photos can set you up for failure. An article from Business.com on the pitfalls of stock puts it succinctly, saying,
“Stock photos can be a huge turnoff to your readers because they’re impersonal. Simply put, most stock photos don’t do a good job on their own of representing your brand.”
The article goes on to underscore that consumers are sick of stock photos. Meme pages even exist to make fun of them. Sure, you might be able to use a blatant stock image for a little tongue-in-cheek fun on your social media channels, but you don’t want to rely on them.
If a consumer can find the images you’re using with a quick Google search, those images aren’t doing your brand identity any favors. Even so, you might think you’re stuck with stock because custom imagery is extremely expensive, right? Wrong.
Custom images can be powerful and affordable
As consumers put more emphasis on both visual content and genuineness, custom is how brands find success. And it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, either.
With the latest visual production platforms, you can get connected to creatives who can produce completely customized images and videos for your brand. Our solution, StudioNow, comes alongside players like 90 Seconds (a video creation platform) and Meero (for custom photography), disrupting content production as you probably know it.
With StudioNow, for example, you get a visual production platform to enable easy collaboration with creatives who can take the photos you need. As we streamline the process of getting customized visual content, we also bring down the cost.
That means you don’t need to hold out and only use custom images for your highest-level slots, like your key webpages or high-dollar ads. When you rethink how you get custom imagery—and how much it can cost—you can use it for everything your brand needs, from one-off social media posts to single-send email campaigns.
What’s more, when you get custom imagery created for your brand, you can start to build a digital asset pool or add these images to your existing DAM. That way, the images can be reused, helping bring down costs on future projects while protecting your brand identity.
If you think custom imagery has to blow your marketing budget, think again. Choose a visual production platform and you can get beautiful, made-to-order visual content to support your brand identity. Use it to take your marketing efforts to the next level and to stay in lockstep with your customers and their expectations.