Stock photos are great. Suddenly every business had access to images that were quick and easy to slot into web content. Seems like a dream right?
The problem now is that the same pictures are used far too often. Time and again images cropped up with a different tag line, resulting in the beginning stages of a cliché. The illusion that content was bespoke, well-crafted and original was destroyed as each stock photo appeared online.
Does that matter? Well, yes. Why? Because we’re fickle beasts with the attention span slightly less than a goldfish these days. We are like children, drawn to originality, bright colours and that ’ooh’ moment. Our childlike qualities are spilling over into business as the experiences we have on social media are impacting on the way we want businesses to treat us. A great client/business relationship means more sales, advocates and lifelong customers.
Besides, doesn’t your business deserve more than ‘stock’ imagery to represent a brand?
At the same time, we know that consumers have more power than ever. They don’t want to be sold to in the conventional sense. No, what they need is seduction. This is where personalisation becomes a crucial brand characteristic.
Let me be bold for a moment… Look at the production of film or advertisements on television. Ask a director how they’d frame a shot to seduce their variable target audience. They will tell you that it entirely depends on their audience and the understanding that different audiences mean a different approach.
They are creating micro moments for individuals and that is exactly what we need to do in business. As director Anna Biller said in a recent interview: “There are so many ways for cinema to create desire, and most of them have nothing to do with nudity.”
So how do you seduce your audience?
Honestly? You need to create style, panache, a sense specialty and basically stop people in their tracks. Target audiences and the fragmentation of the consumer means niche and personalisation is key. It has to be this way. The world is so noisy that unless you can tell a great story no one will notice.
For example, in our agency we like using images that don’t appear to fit with the narrative. A clever title can prompt an exciting thought, a different perspective and a jolt to the brain. On Pinterest, although it’s a visual social media platform the text can shed another viewpoint and prompt thought. A pause and appreciation for visual content.
So how can this be done without spending a fortune on a highly talented creative department? Try these highly original image providers.
This is an amazing platform that provides some extraordinary images for free. I remember talking to a gathering of picture librarians and causing a stir when I said, ‘Look, people no longer want to pay shed loads for images. Your subscriptions models are dying. Think again.’ I didn’t quite need an escort from the building but it was close.
Unsplash recognised my point and they are a platform that showcases talent from all over the world. You can download any images that takes your fancy and all you need to do is cite the photographer in your content. With some original searches you can come across images that have never been seen. People love an image with a powerful caption that asks the reader, ‘hey do you see what I see?’
Here is another stalwart of the free image. You can download for free here too. Beware of the obvious ‘stock’ photos that live in this website. A careful eye is a must, and the wrong choice will become obvious. With a bit of effort, though, Pixabay can provide the additional icons and images that your website can’t do without.
Take note, this website will make you hungry. So if you have just started a new diet, you may want to wait a few days. Foodies Feed has amazing imagery of delightful dishes that will catch anyone’s attention. If food is your thing, or even if it’s not, Foodie Feed has great free images that will catch eyes across all platforms. With almost a million downloaded images, you really can’t go wrong with this website.
Here is a short list of others you might fancy looking at all with Creative Commons Zero Licence:
- Stockfree Images – Not for all websites, but worth a glance.
- Visual Hunt – Stunning landscapes and inspiring images.
- Fancycrave – Smaller collection, but new photos added daily.
- Jay Mantri – THE PLACE for landscape shots.
- Gratisography – Free high-resolution pictures to add some life to your brand.
- IM Free – A curated collection of images and website templates. Citing the artist is required for this site.
- Pexels – 5000+ images for you to plunder. 500 images added each month, so you will find what you need.
There are many more and spending time finding the right image for your brand or business will pay dividends in the long run. People will take notice, will remember and even look out for you.
But wait… You’re not done yet!
Just because you have found a great image, doesn’t mean that you are ready to post. First, you must make it your own.
We suggest getting a subscription to photoshop or getting familiar with Pixlr, or another online editor. Have your brand logos on hand and be sure that you are sticking with your company style guide when choosing colors or filters.
Just imagine a photo intended for Instagram; it matters , right? You should put this much effort into each photo you post on social media or your website – if not more!
Get inspired by the greats
You don’t have to take our word for it. These successful companies show how personalised content can help you achieve your goals.
Now we know we can’t all be Netflix, but their business model should inspire even the most established websites. Netflix began as a secondary source for media, that is until they decided that they can do it better. It is thanks to this personalised content that we get to enjoy our favorite shows. Stranger Things anyone? How about House of Cards? Yeah, that’s what we thought…
This seemingly nerdy web hosting company has made a name for themselves by embracing their brand and featuring personalised, original artwork throughout their social media channels. This company has thought outside of the cloud hosting box to explore their brand in original ways to connect with their customers on a whole new level. For example, check out their amazing wallpaper designs here.
If this brand isn’t one of the most original companies you’ve ever seen, we will eat our hats (not really, it’s an expression). Just a quick look at their homepage and it is easy to see that Kenzo has personalised content on a pedestal. Now even if this daring style isn’t for you, it is easy to appreciate that what this company has done is new, eye catching, and hard to forget.
While taking the extra time to personalise your content can seem a little like overachieving, it really is a must in this digital age. Have no fear though, the experts at VKN Digital can help you create a brand that is entirely unique, authentic and eye catching. Learn more today at viviennekneale.com.
Vivienne Neale is an experienced content and copywriter and is director of VKN Digital.