Aaron has been continually developing his clean, professional design style since his start as a B2B agency intern up to his more recent work with GE and Evonik Industries. At FVM, he helps guide projects through every step of the process, pairing careful strategy with creative design. On weekends, Aaron swaps out his trusty Logitech keyboard for his less trusty (but equally beloved) vintage Honda motorcycle.
Musical guilty pleasure: Miley Cyrus
Marketing guilty pleasure: Direct mail
Not-so-guilty pleasures: Charcoal drawing, trout fishing
Movie intake: At least 2-3 a week
Fav. furry friend: Lucia, the Carolina Dog
When B2B companies consistently choose to portray their businesses, people or customers with generic stock imagery, they could be risking their brand identity. Buyers are savvy when it comes to marketing, and commonly used — or just plain “bad” — stock photography can instantly come across as inauthentic or even lazy, raising doubts about a brand’s capability, credibility, and taste.
But are costly, bespoke photo shoots the only solution? Not necessarily. There is an abundance of options for creating B2B photography that stands out while communicating authentic brand value. Here’s our look at approaches, both in-house and out, that can boost B2B brands — while staying within budget.
Traditionally, custom photography has meant big-budget, off-site shoots with professional photographers. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Zendesk, for example, supports their brand using simpler studio-style photography. By making sure the content corresponds with the accompanying imagery, and keeping tones and colors in line with their identity, they can connect effectively with their target audience.
And thanks to their controlled, one-location approach to shooting, Zendesk can control the message each photo conveys while keeping their budget down.
In the long run, custom photography can be quite cost-effective. With well-lit, high-resolution imagery, you can apply your photos to digital and print materials of all sizes without losing quality. This versatility supports brand consistency with imagery that feels cohesive across channels.
It is true that stock photography costs less than going custom. But because of its easy accessibility, you can expect that the shot you spent hours scrolling to find is probably already being used by some other businesses.
Combining images through compositing is one effective way to use stock photography to create eye-catching visuals for your business. Be sure these are done by a professional. Poor Photoshopping is all too obvious (keep scrolling to see an example).
Consider this hero image for a B2B company. Not only is it cliché, it is also poorly composited with too many layers.
That’s why it’s important to find photography that strikes the right balance — eye-catching but not eye-roll-worthy; polished but not too pricey.
Not all straight stock photography is bad or inferior, but you have to choose wisely. If you do decide to go down the stock route, avoid relying on clichés like people with big cheesy grins shaking hands, weird digital overlays, or cartoon people pushing jigsaw pieces together. Customers can tell when photos have little to no direction relating to the brand.
Instead, take the time to consider the personality of your brand, the emotions you’d like to evoke, and the content the imagery is being tied to. Make sure the images are general enough to feel realistic but specific enough to feel personable.
FVM recently took on the challenge of helping our client, Univar, create more authentic imagery. Solely using stock photography just wasn’t cutting it — not to mention most stock photos depicted work environments that didn’t reflect Univar’s strict safety requirements.
By exploring photography styles, content, and direction, we strategized a short list, led a photo shoot, and created a photo library that reinforced Univar’s values, engaging their customers with instantly relatable imagery.
On the other hand, we opted to use composites of stock photos on Univar’s recent advertising campaign.
By taking stock photography and injecting it with a bit of customization, we created a memorable image that feels believable, conveys humor, and most importantly, supports the overall message of the campaign.
Our work with Univar is just one example of how you can combine stock and custom photography while maintaining a cohesive brand — and staying within your marketing budget.
Many businesses push photography to the bottom of the list when it comes to branding and visual identity. The truth is, photography plays a key role in how your audience connects with your business.
As HubSpot points out, images increase retweets of Twitter content by 150 percent. On Facebook, posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images. And over at LinkedIn, rich eye-catching media in the feed increases both engagement rates and click-through rates.
Tied with the correct voice, brand, and positioning, good imagery will work harder for your business. Remember: your brand is unique, and your imagery should be, too.
No two routes are the same for every business. But with the right direction and know-how, your photography plays a major role in building a cohesive brand — a brand that your customers can connect to.