Your brand values are what sets you apart from your competition.  You might have an idea of what they are right at the outset, or they might develop over time.  They’re the very essence of your company DNA.

Many of us would like to think that honesty and authenticity are key values we and our businesses hold.  And I’m sure that in some ways they are.  We don’t add extras on to the bill, we tell our customers the truth, not just what they want to hear, we make appointments and keep them, and so on.  But there is one area where those values seem to go out of the window.  And that’s in the use of photos on websites.

On far too many websites I see stock images that supposedly represent the premises, workforce and, by inference, the culture of the business.  In some situations, I see the same ones on several sites, for different companies.  Do those people really work for three different firms, at different ends of the country?  Of course not.  If you genuinely work from a smart, Designer-y open plan space, it’s great to show it off.  But why use stock shots of such places, populated by smiling models all drinking their lattes together while poring over each other’s Macbooks if that’s not reality?  Show off your own staff.  They’re the ones that create and sustain the company culture.  They’re the ones who should be representing you.  And if your premises are functional rather than inspiring – well, don’t show them at all.  It’s what you do that matters, not where you do it from.

Now, I’ve nothing against stock photos per se.  I shoot them myself, and have a sizeable collection on Getty Images (they’re here if you want to browse them).  They get picked up for online articles, to illustrate a point made in a social media post, and so.  And that’s fine.  If you’re using generic images to illustrate a concept, or as a header to a section, great.  Go for it – it makes the site look nicer.  But in the areas I’ve mentioned above it just seems a bit …… well, dishonest.

Here’s an example of something I’ve taken recently for a company that is genuinely striving for authenticity.  Net Hub wanted some shots of real people using their app.  So we shot some – a real user, in a real environment (a hotel dining area), where lots of meetings take place.  Definitely not an airbrushed version of reality – this is the real thing.  And it’s also unique – this image won’t be seen on another website anywhere else.

If someone’s desperate to hire you, they won’t honestly care what’s on your website.  But for the majority of us, potential customers at this stage, you surely want to do your best to assure us of your honestly and authenticity.  It’s a small thing, for sure, but for some of us it’s an important detail that needs to be got right.

Interested in talking about your own brand values and how to present them visually?  I’m always available for a no-obligation chat.