The Importance of Authentic Customer Driven Imagery vs Stock Imagery

The Importance of Authentic Customer Driven Imagery vs Stock Imagery

Modern Marketing
User Generated Content (UGC)


An image should attract users to your brand, not distract them. Time and time again studies have shown that authentic user generated content is better than stock imagery because it is more likely to engage your audience.

People are quick to judge a company based on their ads, posts and website photos and images they share. In fact, studies say that consumers are flat out ignoring stock imagery photos they see online. See why original images are better for your brand and how they help you build a stronger connection with your fans.

Unique, User-Generated Images Humanize your Brand

Images are one of many ways to communicate who you are and what you represent. People want to see brands as human, not just a corporation or product. This is one of the reasons that UGC works so well. It’s authentic, real and relates to your audience because they see people just like them using the products.


A big mistake many businesses make is trying to add the human factor to their web pages or ads, but going about it the wrong way by using stock photos. Unfortunately, doing this plays against the concept of trust building. Stock photos look fake and they reduce trust from onlookers.

Be Original

Anyone can go with the crowd and use generic marketing tactics, but that’s not going to help your business growth or reputation. Unfortunately, using stock photography doesn’t communicate “unique” or “one-of-a-kind.” If paired together, stock images may also compromise your robust content. You want something that compliments your voice and makes sense in context. The best part about using your own photos is you don’t have to ask for permission or deal with usage limitations because you own them.

Better Manage Your Reputation

It’s true, stock photos are appealing because they’re easy. However, using them puts you at risk of compromising your brand reputation and your customers’ loyalty. Paid photographers allow you to shoot unique photos that personalize your business and projects. If a competitor is using the same photo it’ll confuse your audience and not make either of you look very good. It also doesn’t hurt that click through rates increase when custom photos are used.

Send the Right Message

If you use words such as trustworthy, real, authentic and distinctive to describe your brand you better make sure your photos are saying the same thing. When you pepper your website and ads with canned, stock photography, you’re sending a mixed message about your values. No matter how great the stock images, they always represent someone else’s vision.


If stock photos are your only option, at least try not to solely rely on them in your marketing strategy. There are plenty of photo editing programs and apps out there to help you along the way. Stock imagery may save you money in the short-term, but custom photos have a greater chance of giving you a better return as time goes on. This is because they help you build trust and portray a unique identity.

Written By

Katie Carlson , Contributing Author

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