The Importance of Producing Unique, Authentic Content for your Brand
Picture this: you’ve spent hours poring over high-quality and unique stock photos. You’ve invested a not-insignificant sum in downloading them royalty-free, to use as creative for your website, social media, and marketing collateral. One day, you inadvertently stumble upon a competitor’s website and behold - one of the images that you’re using to promote your business is plastered huge on their home page.
Back in the day, we had a word for the feeling you get in a situation like this. Moded. You just got moded. And it’s not like you can demand they take it down - they legally downloaded this image from the same source you did. But that’s the risk you take when you use pre-packaged stock photography and graphic design to build your brand - the risk of confusing your audience, potentially diverting them to one of your competitors.
I get it: it’s a risk that many solopreneurs and small businesses have to take because producing your own content is a very expensive undertaking when you’re not already skilled in photography and videography and if you’re not savvy with using the gear you already have. If you’re just starting out and you know you’re not very good at capturing photos and video, I actually support going the stock route. Really squeeze the value out of it by thoughtfully curating images and doing an image search to make sure it’s not being used too many other places online. As you grow your audience and expand, however, a plan for unique content is a MUST, and here’s why:
Google rankings. We are now at a time where about 33% of all Google searches are for images. Now, unlike with page searches that turn up duplicates, you will not be penalized or ranked lower for using a stock image that’s also being used by others on the web. So who will come out on top? The business that has put the time and effort into high quality image SEO. If your competitor’s is stronger than yours and the both of you are using the same image, you lose. In any case, image SEO is important, and should be a part of your workflow whenever you upload to your website. So imagine, if you prioritize producing your own branded creative and you marry that strategy with good image SEO, how you’ll differentiate your brand online.
At the end of the day, we all have to start somewhere. Just know that you can set your branding apart with stock creative by making intentional and thoughtful decisions about what you’ll use. If, however, you’re not creating a long-term plan for original content production, with intent to implement it once you’ve grown your audience, you’re doing your business’ branding a huge disservice.