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When Bad Stock Happens to Good Projects: Top 5 Types of Images Ruining your Digital Marketing | Bluefish Digital Marketing

After getting a (good) photographer’s bill, I was thinking about the democratization of the digital marketing industry (and photography industry, in particular) and how the digital photography revolution is affecting the business of photography in much the same way that desktop publishing hurt the design business in the early 90’s. But that’s a serious blog and I’d rather start the New Year off with something a little lighter.

As we’ve been developing sites, one of the biggest things we find we need to explain is the importance of quality images. There is good stock out there, and we take pride in finding it when it fits with the creative direction/budget. That said, too many companies willingly default to hackneyed images that completely undermine their brand’s credibility.

Below are a few of the favorite stock images  that we as digital marketing agencies run across on a regular basis that can ruin an otherwise decent concept or layout.  (Editor’s note:  I wrote this then went back and found these images – it wasnt very difficult.)

The “United Colors of Benetton”

stock-photo-portrait-of-smiling-multiracial-business-team-in-office-180581660.jpgThis may be a dated reference for some of you but the old Benetton commercials from the 80s/90’s that promoted diversity (like 20 years before it was cool)  have found a home in stock photography.  It’s the one where you have an Asian woman, an African-American man, an average white guy and a brownish-man of indeterminable race who could be anything from Middle Eastern to Hispanic. It is supposed to say “we’re diverse” and what it screams is “someone invited our HR department to be part of our creative review process.”





“The Huddle up”

office-collaboration-huddle.jpgThis is the classic, “let’s all bend over and look at one guys laptop because we’re sooooo collaborative here.” Please. If you have that huge of a conference room, you can probably afford a projector. Besides, wasn’t the cloud supposed to free us from having to actually see our co-workers?




Speaking of the Cloud…


I know it’s a little bit 2011…but images to represent the cloud have gotten just plain silly. There were companies that had absolutely nothing to do with the clouds throwing a ”cloud message” page on their site…and what images should we use with that? “Oh, just right, throw up at all that has any sort of cloud in.” It’s theCumulonimbus revolution!




Shiny Happy People

group-business-people-office-happy-hand-together-35509645.jpgAny over use of people smiling fits into this category. Especially business people who look suspiciously like models. No one likes their job that much. And if they do, they sure as hell don’t like taking time away from doing important business things to pose for group pictures. (Ed. Note: Hubspot also called out the first cousin of this image…the happy person on the phone/headset…



Stressed out man/women

portrait-of-executive-woman-being-stressed-out-AERE54.jpgThe opposite of the shiny happy person? The Stressed out person…it’s a simple shot to set up: You take a person, and have them hold their head in their hands like they just had a root canal with no Novocaine …voila! That guy is clearly stressed!

Relax bro, your spread sheet will tie, it’s not the end of the world.

(Editor’s note: If this guy were to lie on the ground they would look like European soccer players looking to get a penalty kick.)



The Sporting Executive

You’ve seen135225089.jpg it. This one’s native habitat is a PowerPoint, usually near the end. You have an executive throwing a football, shooting hoops, or winning a race in a suit. There’s usually a headline that plays on the sports-catch phrase…”It’s a home run for our customers!”… “We’re all Winners!” … “IT’S A SLAM DUNK!”   (Ed. Note: I believe it’s a law in 12 states that you must use IMPACT ALL CAPS BOLD AND AN EXCLAMATION POINT FOR THE HEADLINE!)


Full Disclosure:  It should be noted that even though I joke about this, I have personally committed several of these sins myself. Sometimes you just don’t have a choice. Sometimes it’s the clients “vision” and sometimes you’re just not getting paid enough to find/shoot good images.

This is why we try like heck to make sure we stress to our clients before the project begins that photography will be an important part of the process. And (just as importantly) if they want to project a certain image, they will need to pay to get either original images, or pay for images that match the quality of the creative direction and the image they want to project.

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