Six Tips for Stock Image Success
After decades of use, the 1970s inspirational office poster that says, “Hang in There, Baby!” and shows a very serious little kitty hanging by its paws is a completely exhausted image. We’ve seen the poster re-imagined with different cats on tree branches, jungle gyms, building ledges—you name it.
With the advent of stock photography and illustration Web sites, marketers need to keep the above example in mind and be wary of making trite or obvious choices in their campaigns. Steve Penn, CEO and executive creative director of Minneapolis-based direct response firm Penn Garritano, also recommends the following best practices for marketers to successfully incorporate stock images in their direct response campaigns.
1. Search smart.
When searching for images on stock sites, “You have to resist your temptation to do the thing that sounds most intuitive. There’s a story or concept that’s at play, and I want to tap into the emotion rather than the labels.” For example, if you are creating a campaign for brake lights, Penn recommends searching for the word “safety.” He reasons, “We don’t sell toothpaste in this business, we sell nice smiles.” It also helps to further narrow your search with the filters, menus and dialog boxes available on each site.
2. Take the image one step further.
“Stock photography is stock for a reason—it’s because everybody is looking for that same kind of image. The question is what are you doing with that image?” Penn says. He encourages his art directors to use Adobe Photoshop, Lightbox and all the tools available to them to manipulate the image—make it sepia or black and white, or crop it—so that it doesn’t look like the same stock image everyone else used.
3. Don’t be banal.
Penn says he sees the most clichéd imagery in the B-to-B and technology sectors. “I want to talk about partnership and what’s the first thing I see? A couple of guys shaking hands,” he laughs. Even if the idea or product is complex, dig deeper than mindless images such as futuristic-looking pieces of computer equipment or smiling customer service representatives in headsets.