In today's diverse and socially conscious landscape, using inclusive stock photos is pivotal for impactful marketing campaigns. But it’s easier said than done when it comes to actually driving results.
In this article, we tell you all about the significance of authentic visual representation in marketing visuals and outline a practical three-step guide on harnessing the power of inclusive imagery.
From identifying the perfect photo concepts to handpicking images and enhancing your SEO strategy with image-based insights, this is a seamless approach to creating visually compelling and inclusive marketing materials using budget-friendly resources accessible to businesses of all sizes.
Ready to elevate your brand's message by embracing diversity in your visuals? Let’s go!
Inclusive photography –images that portray individuals from diverse and traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, cultures, lifestyles, and communities authentically, positively, and non-biasedly- is a better representation of our current society and, thus, highly relatable.
Equally important, they show your customers you value diversity, equity, and inclusion. In today's world, consumers are increasingly conscious of the companies they choose to do business with. Studies have shown that customers are more likely to support brands that align with their values, including those related to diversity and inclusion.
Using diverse and inclusive stock images in your marketing campaigns and branding efforts can significantly impact your business as it helps build trust with your audience and connect with potential customers through shared values.
It's also an effective way to increase representation in stock photos to reach audiences that may not have felt interpellated by your marketing materials in the past –such as people with disabilities or people of color – and may now see themselves and their community in your visuals. In the same vein, it helps represent concepts more authentically and without stereotypes, like it happens when it comes to gender or age, for example.
But, like everything in marketing, it’s not a matter of choosing any picture, throwing it into your ad, and calling it a day. In fact, that’d be the worst you could do. To design visual campaigns with a genuine inclusive message, you must find inclusive and diverse stock photos that are authentic and of great quality and select them wisely according to your goals.
Now, you may think this requires consulting with experts or hiring research specialists to handle the work and forking out considerable amounts in the right imagery. While that's an option if you have the budget available and the desire to invest it that way, there is a solution to do this on the affordable side and achieve perfectly sound results. Read on and find out!
One stock photo agency that thrives in its offer of inclusive imagery is iStock. This renowned pioneer of royalty-free image licensing (previously known as iStockphoto – read all about them in our iStock review) puts a lot of effort into bringing the freshest, most diverse, and authentic pictures to its library, which boasts tens of millions of images.
iStock’s catalog is divided into two main collections: Essential, where you can find high-res, budget-friendly photographs, and Signature, which hosts high-value artistic pictures that are exclusive to this agency –find out the value of exclusive stock images here. In both of them, inclusion and diversity are paramount topics. You may even find curated, inclusive photo collections ready to navigate.
The best is that they’re all under the iStock license, one of the most flexible licensing deals for commercial-use photos, and its price points are extremely affordable –we are talking about less than 50 cents apiece for exclusive imagery, more info in our iStock pricing breakdown. Plus, you may even test it out for free with up to 10 free image downloads using the iStock free trial.
Equally relevant, this agency leverages the data collected from millions of searches on iStock and its parent company, Getty Images, in a valuable creative resource named Visual GPS, a user-friendly and interactive tool available on their website at no added cost that helps you search for images that represent diversity in stock photos in the trendiest way, saving time and effort and granting captivating visuals as a result.
Now, let’s see how you can create advertising campaigns with inclusive visual content in three simple steps!
Whether you want to craft adverts based on the latest trends for inclusivity and diversity, or you are looking for engaging, culturally relevant pictures in a minority niche, before you dive into a stock photography catalog, you must have an idea of what theme, style and composition your pictures must have to be compelling and up-to-date with visual trends. This is a time-consuming and not always enjoyable analytical task.
Luckily, a way to solve it effectively and easily is by using iStock’s Visual GPS. This is a complimentary service offered by this agency on its platform, and it's very simple to use. You simply type in a term or concept, tweak a few parameters, and you'll see detailed reports with the most sought-after and best-performing styles and themes for every topic imaginable.
You can see general overviews with trending topics or type in your keyword to see topic-specific content trends; you may also use filters to broaden or narrow the window of time considered in the data, to circumscribe it to a determined country or region –it covers most regions worldwide–, or even a particular industry.
For example, Visual GPS tells us that the terms “Community” and “Mental Health” were among the most relevant in the US in the past six months. Using these concepts in an advertising campaign would increase the potential reach and engagement.
If we analyze those terms in particular for the US in the past six months, we’ll find that community themes revolve around multicultural group collaboration and positive social unity, and mental health concepts focus on mental health at work, support, and seeking emotional wellness.
See? In just a few clicks, you already have powerful information and even multiple image suggestions to use in an inclusive marketing campaign targeting the US audience that works for various industries and niches… all without spending an extra penny as Visual GPS is available for free for all users.
Once you have an idea about the kind of photos you will use in your campaign, it’s time to make a selection of images.
This is a breezy experience in iStock, not only because they have millions of high-resolution images to choose from but also because the iStock search engine has advanced technology to give you a smooth experience in finding specific types of photos.
Intelligent keyword search and reverse image search are improved by various filters, each with multiple selective options, that weed out results to see exactly what you are looking for and nothing else.
Say that you want your community-themed photo to be a multiethnic group of people working in a garden, and you want this graphic to be geared toward young adults. The Age and Ethnicity filters will let you see results for that topic featuring young people and making sure different ethnicities are included.
A speedy, creative workflow for image selection at no added cost is another great benefit of the iStock service.
Pictures are a crucial aspect of any marketing campaign, but certainly not the only one. Pairing your images with compelling and (equally important) optimized copy is key to putting your content in front of your target audience so they can be captivated by its visual power.
While SEO is a science of its own, and researching to define the best copy for your adverts can be difficult and tedious, the good news is that iStock can assist you on this front, too.
Visual GPS not only helps you discover trendy photos and illustrations to increase representation in media but also gives you a complete report that includes terms and phrases that are popularly used in connection with those images, as well as statistics on which industries and regions have a higher interest in each.
It’s a very clever move to use this information in your SEO strategy, exploring these keywords and the kind of discussions around them to craft a message that resonates with your potential customers and boosts up the power of your selected photos across your campaign in social media, websites, publications, and so on.
The iStock team has a useful guide that teaches you to harness Visual GPS results to improve your SEO workflow.
This simple three-step creative workflow can radically improve how you design your marketing materials and, more importantly, ensure more effective visual content that meets your business goals without requiring large investments in consulting or investing long hours in learning visual trend analysis.
If you want your brand to be inclusive and your marketing efforts to drive results, exploiting iStock’s vast stock photo library and search capabilities and Visual GPS’s superb trend reports is a wise way to get it done!
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