TIP: Lots of social media websites compress images, which can be particularly unflattering for simple block colour and text based graphics. To minimise this, it is recommended to use photos to reduce that soul-crushing fuzz. (Yes Facebook, we’re talking to you.)
When building a business and forging a brand, your choice of imagery can be the glue that binds it all. With the growing popularity of image driven platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, choosing the right photos to enhance your brand has never been more crucial. Cue stock photos, your secret branding sidekick.
Not only do stock photos save you time (that elusive commodity as a business owner) but choosing the right ones and using them cleverly in the right places can help to build a solid and recognisable brand. Thankfully, these days there’s an ever-growing choice of creative stock photography so you can find imagery that aligns perfectly with your business and speaks distinctly to your ideal audience.
Think stock photography only applies to an IG post here and there, or to sit pretty at the top of a blog post? That only scratches the surface, my friend. We’ve rounded up our 10 favourite ways stock photos can be used creatively and effectively to elevate your brand. Plus, we’ve also thrown in some strategic design tips with how to get the most from the photos, too!
1. Website landing page This one may be a little obvious but your website landing page is often the initial point of contact and opportunity to make that all important first impression. When a visitor (a potential customer or client) stumbles upon your landing page, they’re immediately greeted with whatever is presented ‘above the fold’ (the top part of the site before you start scrolling).
One of the most engaging ways to capture a visitors attention is to use a considered combination of text and imagery that subtly guides them to look where you want them to. This is particularly effective if you use an image that complements the text and draws the viewer to read the headline copy. Images created with negative space (examples of these can be found here) are great for achieving that all important balance between text and imagery.
Wherever possible you want to ensure that your choice of image is enhancing and not distracting from your copy or call to action. If you have a call to action on your landing page, the choice of imagery can have a huge impact on converting that initial contact into a click. By opting to use an image with elements that frame the text, you’re drawing the visitors gaze to the copy. To help nudge things along even further, your call to action button can be emphasised by the choice of colour of the image, too.
2. Website Pop Up Whether you’re a fan of the pop-up or not, they are still a highly effective way of growing your mailing list and capturing those all important email addresses. To create an attractive pop-up that’s not a turn off and doesn’t scream ‘spam’, use imagery that’s on brand and cohesive with the rest of your site.
If your pop up is offering some type of lead-magnet, why not incorporate that into the image? For example, if you’re offering a worksheet or e-course you could present it in an iPad mockup which gives the visitor a persuasive insight into what they can expect to receive by subscribing. Paying attention to detail and making your pop-up look attractive is a simple way of enhancing the likelihood of a visitor gaining your trust and sharing their address email with you.
3. Coming soon/Maintenance pages Whether you’re in your pre-launch stage, or you’re in maintenance mode making sure you’ve carried out all of the necessary updates, chances are that (hopefully) people will still be visiting your site.
Much like your landing page, you want to make sure that visitors leave with a good first impression. So, alongside all of the necessary copy that tells visitors what’s going on behind the scenes, you could use engaging on brand imagery that gives a glimpse as to what the visitor is to expect when they return.
4. Blog posts Again, this may be a little obvious but alongside a captivating blog post title the accompanying imagery can be a gentle nudge to click and read more. Depending on the content of your blog post, you may only need one image (the header/thumbnail picture) or you may illustrate the various topics you discuss with additional images weaved throughout the post.
5. Pinterest Pins One of the ways you may want to incorporate your lead image in blog posts is by using it to create a Pinterest friendly graphic. These images are often vertical graphics that are a combination of both imagery and text that you should place either at the beginning or end of your post.
Pinterest savvy viewers will recognise these types of ‘pinnable’ images and be more encouraged to save and pin these types of posts to their own boards. This is a win, as wherever possible you want to be encouraging people to share your content. To create graphics quicker, you could also use social media templates and use the same format for every post to create visual consistency throughout your blog.
6. Lead Magnet Opt-In You’ve created a fantastic resource for your audience and you want to offer this as a lead magnet. Awesome! To encourage visitors to part with their email address in exchange for this super helpful resource you’ve created, you’ll be needing to present them with an opt-in. These could be strategically placed throughout your site, such as on your landing page, in your sidebar or even at the bottom of a blog post that offers content related to your lead magnet.
Much like the pop up example above, to encourage visitors to opt-in you could use accompanying imagery that showcases what they should expect to receive. For example, if you’re offering free social media graphics you could present this in a phone mockup. This makes the offering more tangible, more real, and within easy reach of the visitor.
If your lead magnet isn’t something that could be illustrated in a mockup, no worries! Using an eye catching image in your opt-in content block can be a great way in itself to draw attention to it.
7. Headers/section on your website Throughout your site, you may have various ‘functional’ yet important pages such as your ‘About’ or ‘Contact’ pages. These pages needn’t be neglected and can be livened up with the use of image headers.
Image headers on these pages can be much like that on your landing page, or they can be ‘banner’ images which span across the top of the page. These small bands of imagery with a text overlay can be a great way of adding engaging visuals on a page without dominating the page’s copy or content forms.
8. Sales pages So you’ve got a product or service to sell, which means that you’ll also need a masterfully crafted sales page, too. A landing sales page is the specific page you create when directing a traffic source (either an ad, a link via social media etc.) to the product or service you’re selling. Using engaging imagery on this page helps to maintain the attention of the visitor, especially if you’re pitching to a creative audience.
If you’re selling a digital product or online course, you could also use mockups to contextualise your product and make it tangible to the visitor. For example, if you sell organisational templates you could create graphics using a stationery mockup to display the product rather than a simple screenshot. Similarly, with online courses a great way to showcase these are with iPad or laptop mockups which give a visual glimpse into the content.
When it comes to choosing what type of imagery, remember that sales largely rely on an emotional response. With that in mind, carefully choose images that will evoke a positive response from the viewer. For example, if you’re selling an online course about how to run a creative business efficiently, you could use images of an organised workspace. By doing this your potential customer is already imagining the achieved outcomes that could result from purchasing your course. With the imagery alone you are building emotion into the sales, which alongside killer copy is a winning combination for conversions.
9. Sidebar images Your blog sidebar can be a perfect opportunity to highlight parts of your website that you want to draw attention to. Do you have a new product launch, a podcast, or a resource page? By adding clickable image blocks, you’re steering your visitors navigation of your website and optimising the chance of your best content being viewed.
When creating these graphics, be sure to use on brand imagery and typefaces that are coherent with the rest of your website. At all costs you want to avoid your graphic looking like an ad that readers might think will take them off-site. To optimise these sidebar clicks, be sure to integrate a call to action in the final graphic, such as a ‘read now’ or ‘see more’ button.
10. Social media covers Most social media platforms now display your profile or page as a mini website in themselves. These days, when someone lands on your social media page, be it Facebook or Twitter, it’s important that what they see is cohesive with your website branding.
If you have a certain colour palette or a strong recognisable landing page image, you could incorporate them into your social media covers to create a cohesive profile across various websites. You want visitors to recognise that they’ve arrived at the right place, creating brand recognition and the trust that goes with that.
So, there you have it! These are just a handful of the ways you can use stock photos to enhance your business. Some key takeaways are that when it comes to choosing the right stock photos, consistency is key. By committing to consistency and choosing similar images across all of the platforms that you’re visible on and active in, you’re building that brand recognition with your audience. Let us know in the comments section below if you try any of the ideas, or if we’ve missed any out be sure to share them with us too!