Original Vs Stock: Why authentic brand imagery wins every time.

March 29, 2023

While stock images can be a useful resource in certain situations, relying too heavily on them can hurt your brand’s ability to connect with viewers. Read on to find out why.

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Whether you’re a business in start-up phase or one that’s more established, it’s likely you’ve either considered or already used stock images to create visuals. And while it may seem like a quick and easy solution, I’m here to let you know that relying too heavily on stock photos can actually do more harm than good for your brand’s overall aesthetic and identity.

First of all, let’s talk about what we mean by ‘stock images’. These are photos created by photographers that are made available for use by anyone, usually through payment such as a license fee. Stock images can be a useful resource in certain situations, such as filling in gaps in your website’s content, across your social media platforms, or in your marketing campaigns, however they shouldn’t be the backbone of your visual identity. Let’s look at five good reasons why…


One of the main problems with using stock images is that they lack authenticity. They’re often overused and can be found in multiple places, which can make your brand feel generic and unoriginal – particularly when it comes to websites. In addition, stock imagery often has a glossy, editorial feel that – regardless of how good the quality is – makes viewers switch off and disconnect emotionally. Lastly, using stock images also means that you’re not showcasing your own products or services, which can make it more difficult for potential customers to connect with your brand.

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In addition to lacking authenticity, stock images may also not accurately represent your brand’s values or messaging. The images you choose to represent your business should reflect your unique personality and style, as well as convey the message you want to send to your audience. Using generic stock photos can dilute this messaging and make it more difficult for your brand to stand out and differentiate itself from the competition.

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Another important aspect to consider when creating visuals for your brand, both for corporate and small business, is to create a human connection with your audience. While stock images can provide a quick solution to fill the visual gaps, particularly on your website, they may not effectively showcase the people who actually work in your business. By using genuine photos of your team, your viewers can put faces to names and see the real humans behind the brand. This helps to build trust and create a more personal connection with your audience, as they’re able to see the actual people behind the products or services they’re interested in purchasing. Incorporating photos of you or your team at work or in a natural setting can also provide a glimpse into the culture and values of your business. This is especially important for small businesses, where creating a personal connection can be key to converting potential clients.


Yet another issue with relying too heavily on stock images is that they may not fit seamlessly into the overall look or style of your brand. When using stock images on your website, for example, you’re limited by what’s available and may have to compromise on your site’s design in order to fit the size and style of the image. This can result in a disjointed look and feel, instead of a more cohesive style, which can put off potential customers, and the same applies to using too much stock imagery on social media platforms.


Finally, using stock images can also hurt your website’s SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. Search engines like Google prioritise unique, high-quality content, and using the same stock images as other websites can negatively impact your website’s ranking.

brand photography for authentic businesses

Now let’s look at a client case study to see authentic imagery in action on a website design:


Max Business Solutions is a bookkeeping business based in Melbourne, and last year they engaged Johannah from Confetti Design to redesign their website. I was brought in to create a collection of authentic headshots and lifestyle imagery, so they could avoid the use of stock on the new site and create a stronger personal connection with viewers. These screenshots are just a small selection taken from their site and I love how they showcase the staff, the office, and the professionalism of the company in an authentic way that’s cohesive with the MBS brand. These images can now also be used on any other platform to help MBS stand out from its competitors.

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To summarise, while stock images can definitely be a useful resource in some situations, relying too heavily on them will hurt your brand’s authenticity, messaging, ability to connect, design, and SEO efforts. Particularly when it comes to your website.

Instead, focus on incorporating as many original, high-quality visuals that showcase your brand’s personality and unique offerings as possible. If you do need to use stock images, try to find ones that are less common and fit seamlessly into your brand’s message and design aesthetic, and definitely keep them to a minimum. 

By putting in the effort to create your own visuals you will help your brand stand out, connect with viewers, and make a positive, lasting impression on your audience – which is so important when trying to create a powerful, memorable brand for your business.


Need some authentic images tailored to your brand? Get in touch and let’s chat about how we can create some stunning new images that will engage and inspire your audience.

Or if you’d love to build a powerful brand, show up more consistently online and build a successful business doing what you love, you can also check out my monthly membership where I’m helping an inspiring community of women in business do exactly that.

Lastly, don’t forget to connect with me online on FacebookInstagram and LinkedIn. And make sure you sign up for my newsletter if you’d like to have regular updates and content such as this hit your inbox.

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