When producing collateral or designing illustrations to decorate trade-show stands or other marketing collateral, it’s easy to find images that seem to reinforce messages. There are many excellent websites that offer a huge range of stock images. All you have to do is search for a particular topic and bingo! We know – we do it frequently. Image libraries have been a great boon to marketers as they enable you to find all sorts of distinctive images without the cost of having to create your own.
There is, however, a pitfall. At the TMW this week, we noticed many companies that had, presumably unaware, fallen into this trap. They were using the same images. Little red men were everywhere, colonising the show floor and being used to support and reinforce messages. While each company was distinctive in its own way, many had, inadvertently chosen the same stock images to enhance their booths.
It’s easily done – you search for a theme, find something acceptable in the first few results and then don’t explore further. There are deadlines to be met, the printers want the material and so you settle on something. We can imagine this happening in many companies.
But the results speak for themselves. Companies need to think a little harder about the images they want to use. They need to make sure that they distinguish and differentiate themselves from competitors on all levels. Supporting images are part of that effort.
Stock images are great – but you can use them as they are, or you can work with a designer to create something new that is inspired by commonly available images. Differentiation requires attention to detail and that means being prepared to go beyond the first few images that you find. The little red men are lovely – but be careful that they don’t take over the world!
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