Years ago, I was involved at a church that had just launched a new website. Curious to check it out, I directed my browser to their site and was greeted by some nice-looking pictures of people I had never seen before.
While it wasn’t a life-changing moment, it certainly was a let-down to see these stock photos of laughing families staring back at me.
What are these people laughing about? Are there no happy families in the church that they could’ve taken a picture of?
What was intended to convey warmth and welcoming instead conveyed a sense of distance, a facelessness despite the faces on the screen.
Is Your Business a Stock Business?
Let me ask you something.
Is your business just like any other business in your market? Is it forgettable, ordinary, or unremarkable?
Of course not. So why would you try to communicate the one-of-a-kind quality of your business with images that are forgettable, ordinary, and unremarkable?
Making the Impersonal Personal
By nature, a website is a very impersonal interaction. Your potential customers are scattered around the world, staring at a screen that is made up of lines of code. Anything, anything that you can do to inject life and the unique presence of your brand into that interaction is a step in the right direction.
Here’s where you have to use some discernment. Err on the side of being unique, but know where to draw the line. Using unique images isn’t an excuse to feature photos that don’t convey the value and values of your brand.
There’s a chef in New York City by the name of David Chang. When one of his employees tried to take a shortcut in the kitchen, Chang told him, “We don’t work like that here. We do things the long, hard, stupid way.”
I love that quote. Sure, stock photos are quicker and easier, and oftentimes cheaper too. But if you’re trying to build a brand the long, hard, stupid way--the way that lasts--maybe it’s time to get rid of those stock pictures.