Using Images in a B2B Content Strategy
The visual look and feel of your company is often the primary lasting impression for your technology audience. Sure, there are other factors that come to mind when people think about your company (quality of your service, personality of your employees, reliability of your products), but even these are subtly declared via your imagery. So how do you leave the right lasting impression for this audience with the use of stock imagery?
Cheesy Photos vs Authentic Photos
As a general rule of thumb, stock photos of people should be avoided unless absolutely necessary in order to avoid looking cheesy or inauthentic. Ideally, people shown in your photos should be real life colleagues or clients associated with your business (among other reasons, this prevents the possibility that one of your competitors might use an image with the same model as you).
However, if you are in a position where you must use stock imagery showcasing people, find photos of people that do not look overly enthusiastic or unrealistically animated. As seen in the examples above, these people come across as insincere models that are simply acting.
Instead, try to go for lifestyle shots that do not look staged but instead carry a casual quality, portraying authentic emotions of real-life individuals. These types of images are easier to relate to on an emotional level, and intrigue viewers with their realism. They give your company an honest, more personal feel that benefits both B2C and B2B technology companies alike. *Quick tip: note that these models are not smiling directly at the camera – this gives viewers the impression that they are witnessing a real-life, non-staged, everyday moment in time.
Maintain Style Consistency
There are a plethora of imagery styles for you to choose from. To select the right stock imagery for a particular marketing campaign, avoid cluttering your image library with too many different styles – choose a few and stick to them, to maintain visual consistency.
1. Choose to use photos with heavy filtering (left) or without (right), try not to incorporate both styles into your content marketing.
2. Make a conscious decision of whether to use illustrations or not. If you decide to use illustrations, be sure to use them regularly rather than just a single time. For example, when putting together an email nurture campaign, avoid using a single illustration in only one of your emails. Instead, have a few of them dispersed throughout your emails to create a more cohesive visual experience.
To Trend or Not to Trend
There are many different image trends that are currently very commonplace in the technology industry. Trends can be great to follow to show the world that your company is up to date and contemporary, but following trends can also prove problematic. For one, trends quickly grow old and outdated. Trends that also become extremely mainstream start to lose their edge and wow-factor. Trendy images can become so overused online that they’re no longer unique, standout, nor impactful.
For example, one very common stock trend in the technology industry showcases business professionals pointing at graphics and icons. These types of images no longer carry the same impressive impact, since so many companies catering to technology contacts and IT executives already use them.
A second trend showcases highly digitized and futuristic graphics.
A third trend showcases whimsical or comical business photos.
You want to wow your customers and definitely refrain from boring them with imagery that has already saturated the market. However, some companies fully embrace a particular trend in their brand guidelines, which can create a very cohesive identity. E.g. HubSpot use a cute and whimsical approach on their blog, which really amplifies their personality. When it comes down to it, you and your company should make a conscious decision of whether it makes sense to follow trends or not, based on the personality and nuances of your company's identity.
Don’t miss your chance to leave a captivating impression on your technology audience, with compelling stock imagery. When selecting imagery for your technology audience, remember to portray people with authenticity in a realistic environment, choose a few styles and stick with them to maintain visual consistency, and be conscious of utilizing trendy images. When it comes to impressing the technology audience, quality counts!