Your brand ought to be like your fingerprint — entirely unique and associated with you. Everything about that brand, from the business name to your logo to your web design, should encourage and communicate your company’s unique identity.
So, why on earth would you think about using stock artwork or stock images to represent that brand?
“It’s cheap and convenient!” You’re likely going to reply. However, stock art is the opposite of a fingerprint — it is generic, lacking in character; and, worse, that very same stock artwork could (and does) appear on your competitors’ sites, business cards and logos. That is one reason why a business owner shouldn’t purchase logos at “logo stores” which sell pre-made generic templates.
These are all aspects which will weaken your brand. Additionally, if you think about the legal issues you will face if you use stock artwork incorrectly… that “cheap” alternative might not be so cheap and convenient whatsoever. You might be trying to save money to use on other aspects of your business such as small business coach training, but if you aren’t careful with things like your branding, all that business coaching could be for nothing.
Your brand deserves something better than stock artwork. Here are five reasons why generic stock art may be killing your small business brand.
1. It steals your brands voice
Your brand should be as unique and specific as possible. In the end, no other company is exactly like yours. Your unique conditions and eyesight are one of a kind. Your brand should reflect that. A clearly articulated, consistent assignment combined with the specificity of your authentic brand identity needs a visual language just as specific.
Stock art, on the other hand, is adaptable to a wide array of users, the more buyers that use it, the more rewarding it is for its founder. By design, stock art is the reverse of specific. Therefore it cannot have a strong perspective.
So, instead of stock artwork … sing your brand’s voice “loud and proud.” Make artwork design choices that will give your brand a consistent, clearly articulated viewpoint. Invest in an original logo and web design that captures who your business is.
2. It undermines your brand’s credibility
An authentic brand is one which presents itself with transparency and honesty. These attributes make real brands relatable and dependable. In actuality, at a 2016 study, 83 percent of consumers surveyed stated that confidence drives their devotion to a brand.
Using Stock photography on your site in place of photographs of your actual company or employees might be easy. But, it is a far cry from authentic.
Opting for slick but meaningless stock artwork means you run the risk of alienating a broad market of your clients.
So, instead of stock artwork, make decisions for your visual content that will cultivate a deeper relationship with your clients and customers. Professional, well-lit photographs of your actual employees doing their actual jobs will take more value and build greater confidence than yet another stock photograph.
3. Most logos featuring stock art can’t be trademarked
Since a logo is the company’s visual identity, it is in your best interest to legally guarantee that no other company can use your logo. This is referred to as a trademark. If you choose to use a stock image rather than creating your own logo design, then it is exempt from trade marking. That identical stock artwork is available to any other individual or company that purchases it.
The second important issue is that a signature provides the owner with the legal rights to stop the trademark’s unauthorized usage. However, stock artwork is sold with a license which allows the art to be used under certain pre-approved conditions. (These permits will, however, often dictate that the artwork might not be utilised as logos for websites.)
At the same time, a stock artwork permit grants all buyers certain legal rights. This would preclude you from preventing other buyers from using the exact art that’s featured on your logo.
So, instead of stock artwork, work with an expert graphic designer to find a logo that’s original and correctly embodies your brand. In any event, you will wind up getting an original, unique logo that you have and that may be legally trademarked.
4. Your brand might be confused with a competitors
What if you and a rival both enjoyed the identical stock art and integrated it into your own logos? Your logo would not be unique anymore. Now your logo may be easily confused with a competitor. And, that is not so good for you.
Customers seeking out your company might get confused with your comparable logos and shop with your competition instead.
Losing customers (and of course all of the accompanying earnings) is bad news. However, it’s particularly painful to lose clients to this easily avoided misstep. And, the threat doesn’t stop there. If your competitor does something dishonest and their reputation takes a hit, you’re standing may be impacted too! Guilt by association, honest or not, is a real threat.
And, making a logo change when a PR catastrophe is already upon you is the wrong strategy, just ask a business coach. Rebranding in the aftermath of a PR catastrophe is reactive. Worse, it implies that you might have really done something wrong.
So, rather than using stock artwork, stick out from the competition by using an original logo and authentic photos of your products, services and personnel within your website design. Share more about your organization. The more clearly you pronounce your brand identity, the more you’re differentiating your company from the pack.
5. You may violate copyright law
Lawsuits are never fun. And, they cost money, too. So, if your objective is to save money with stock art, know about the potential legal dangers. Cheap stock art that contributes to a lawsuit is not “cheap” anymore.
Stock art can trip you up for a couple of different reasons, legally speaking. I have already mentioned the first: you cannot trademark most images which include stock art. Attempting to do so can get you in trouble right there.
And, stock art permits include more possible pitfalls than simply trade marking difficulties. You open yourself up to litigation if you violate the specific conditions of use to the stock art you buy. Worse than that, copyright legislation is no-fault. This means that you could get into legal trouble even if you haven’t knowingly done anything wrong. A good example could be legally purchasing an image from a stock photo site that later is found to be a stolen photograph.
So, instead of stock artwork, hire a professional photographer to shoot original pictures of your company. And employ professional graphic designers to create a logo and visual assets for your own brand.
You owe it to your company to make decisions that will offer a return on your investment and help your business grow. Stock artwork will do neither of these things. On the other hand, a clearly articulated, unique visual brand supported by authentic photographs of your enterprise will support growth.