The Easiest Way to Ruin Your Employer Brand: Stock Photos

stock photographyRecently, my husband and I stayed for a weekend on an Air Force base in San Antonio for a wedding in the base’s chapel. I’m not gonna lie: I spent a good portion of the weekend thinking that if the zombie apocalypse was ever going to happen, that would have been a good time (for me) for it to go down. I was 36 weeks pregnant at the time, surrounded by well-trained, heavily-armed humans that are scarily well-behaved in front of citizen visitors. My husband Isaiah distracted me from mentally bringing about some sort of flesh-eating end of the world scenario in my mind by creating a whole backstory for a woman we have seen for years in various overused stock photography around the country. She was in the Air Force base hotel’s marketing materials touting their comfortable accommodations for reasonable prices.

We’ve seen this multiethnic, smiling woman selling gym memberships, software, and frozen yogurt in the past. She’s the first result under any search in a stock photography program for “Asian Caucasian Woman.”

She has lived quite a magical life. Here she is in Berlin, an airport, Venice...

The point of this woman — who I’m happy is making a career for herself modeling for a versatile range of stock photography — is that this woman cannot communicate what’s unique about your employer brand. She doesn’t work for you. She probably doesn’t know anything about your company. She certainly doesn’t know why someone should want to work for you. And, chances are, in the case of this particular woman, while you’re using her image to schlep the benefits of working for you, she’s starting to look suspiciously familiar as the woman who was also selling something else for someone else online recently.

Stock photography done right can be a great resource for your organization — a talented creative team can digitally manipulate and edit stock photos to be something totally unique and memorable for your marketing materials, website, etc. But when it comes to your employer brand, stock photography just doesn’t cut it.

You have a whole roster of photogenic, hopefully happy employees to take original photographs of. There are a variety of easy photo tools at your fingertips if you have so much as access to a smartphone. The point is this: Stop using stock photos to build your employer brand. It might be the quickest way to ruin your employer brand — and building a great community online is hard enough without sparking distrust and suspicion a la stock photography deja vu.

Got it? Good.

When you're ready to build your employer brand from the ground up, the right way, check out The Starr Conspiracy. We can help.