Most marketers are pretty convinced of the importance of using visuals in their marketing. Think about it. There's the rise of Pinterest. The more visual nature of Facebook after the release of Timeline. The popularity of infographics. The general population's short attention span coupled with an overall aversion to reading. After all, a picture says 1,000 words, right?
But are your pictures saying the 1,000 words you want them to? Or are they making you look generic at best, and ridiculous at worst? That's what sometimes happens when a marketer hops onto a stock photography site for homepage photography, slide deck backgrounds, blog post images, and the like. They often end up with stock photos that are generic, impersonal, rooted in no realism of any sort, and as a result, are completely and utterly laughable. It's what marketing strategist and bestselling author David Meerman Scott refers to as "visual gobbledygook," and it's why he often recommends using images of real people (like your employees and your customers) on your website and in your marketing assets instead.
So this post is going to pull out a small sampling of some of the more ridiculous stock photography you might stumble upon in your search for the stuff that's actually good. So when you see stuff like this during your image shopping ... just keep clicking. There's plenty of legit photography and illustrations out there that mean you don't need to settle for the bland and boring.
13 Stock Photos to Never Use in Your Marketing
1) We Work Hard, But We Have Fun
Also, gravity called out sick that day.
2) I Represent an Attractive Yet Accessible Sales/Support/Customer Service Representative
These headsets they give us would be way more helpful if you didn't have to hold the mouthpiece up all day.
3) Best. Meeting. Ever.
This meeting is so awesome! And we'll always remember this time we spent together, thanks to the photographer we hired.
4) Lunch Break!
They can take away my desk, but they can never take away my love for paperwork.
5) Business People Ready to Do Important Business Things
Yes, this is how we always welcome people to our office. Our enormous, bright white, tiled office.
6) Business People Working Together
I @*)!&#$ love teamwork.
7) Business Person Carrying Briefcase
That's what business people do. Business people carry briefcases. And pens.
8) Business Person Hugging Briefcase
They can take my pens; BUT THEY CAN NEVER TAKE MY BRIEFCASE.
(Go ahead and poke fun at the laptop-hugging lady on the HubSpot homepage, but at least she's one of our own.)
9) Business Person Being Stressed
I did not need to be cc'd on this.
10) People Collaborating
Wait, you guys, what if we tried it in Courier New ...
11) Woman Is Busy
Not to be too critical, but I think a lot of your stress here is stemming from a sub-par filing system.
12) Generic Buzz Words
Stand back guys. Innovation is happening.
You sly dog, you ;-)
Bonus: "Businessman in Wheat Field With Briefcase and Balloons"
Our homework, ladies and gentlemen, is to figure out for which business this image is applicable. Aaaaand ... go!
Originally published Nov 30, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated January 18 2019