Real Recognizes Real: Why Brands Aren't Relying On Stock Photography

There is a reason why brands like Nivea, Pernod Ricard, Heineken, and Coca-Cola are killing it on social media and building stronger connections with consumers. They aren’t relying on stock imagery. Rather, they are crowdsourcing authentic images that align with their brand message and values. 

Authentic imagery is a necessary element in sending brand messaging to today’s savvy consumers. We know that consumers can pick up a brand’s messaging within seconds of seeing a single image. This is why it’s so important to create authentic, local, and real images for brands, as imagery speaks faster than words alone. 

Here are a few things to consider when creating imagery for your next campaign: 

Don’t create a library of generic images. It’s important to create a library of custom photographs that showcase your brand guidelines. When you create these images with your company’s vision in mind, your brand awareness and engagement will increase. Plus, you’ll have easy access to a library of relatable images that can then be used for your marketing strategies.



Don’t pass off someone’s product as your own. It’s very hard to get the perfect image with stock photography. For example, if you own an ice cream shop and use a generic photo of someone eating your ice cream, this image will not capture your exact atmosphere, true brand messaging, and product you are looking to feature.

Don’t Photoshop your product / logo into an image. Successful brands leverage authentic images with their products being used IRL (in real life).  Consumers know when a product is photo-shopped into a scene. It’s more authentic to have your brand or company in a picture that feels relevant and relatable to your brand ethos.

Don’t rely on models. Use real people. If a woman sees a supermodel wearing a dress, she may think it is unattainable. Consumers relate better to real people. They can then imagine themselves traveling to your location, wearing your clothes, or eating at your restaurant.

Outdoors > indoors. If it aligns with your brand, taking photos with unique backgrounds outdoors can have a stronger impact than indoors. Consumers want to see content that they can connect with – outdoors tends to portray real moments, while indoors can sometimes look staged and inauthentic.

Crowdsource images. Diversity matters. Share your brand guidelines, core values and messaging with multiple photographers (professional and amateur), and let them do their magic. Remember multiple heads and creative POVs can be better than one. 

Rethinking the process and content of your brand imagery can create stronger consumer connections. The right image can speak volumes to your consumer. Consumers will immediately increase their interest in your brand, expand their user engagement with you, and ultimately purchase your product. This simple and cost-efficient switch will create a lasting impression and you’ll stand out against the competition.

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