Visual Communication

How to Choose Stock Images That Will Convert More Customers For Your Business

By Laura Box - 5 min read

When finding stock images, it’s important that they successfully reflect your business’s identity while also enticing customers. To do this, you should choose stock images that add value, avoid clichés and authentically reflect your business’s high quality.

Know Your Brand’s Visual Identity

The first thing to consider is your business’s visual identity. Every business should have a branding guide that covers everything from font and colour to photography and image composition. Each small detail communicates something about your company, and the stock images you chose to represent your business are no different. We show you ideas on how to depicting corona virus pandemic but without offending in our health visual guide.

If you haven’t developed your business’s style guide yet, it might be worth checking out our tips for developing your photography style guide. Compare KPMG’s images with Monzo Bank. Both are financial service agencies, but one uses its images to appeal to a fun, youthful audience, while the other is obviously aiming for a more business-oriented clientele. By choosing certain images, you choose how your brand will be perceived.

Colorful light falling on mid adult woman standing against wall

Add Value

The images you use should add value to your page. When you choose an image, ask yourself whether your page would lose any value if you removed it. If the page won’t lose value, don’t bother using it. For example, this insurance company has a mix of unnecessary and useful stock images. For car, home and business insurance there are images of a car, a couch and a spreadsheet. These images add value as they help to quickly draw customer’s eyes to the sections they may want to purchase, helping them to easily navigate the page.

Contrastingly, the insurer uses image of small people smiling at the customer and using elaborate gestures. These people seem awkward and slightly cringe-worthy, and it makes the brand’s intentions seem somewhat artificial. By eliminating the less valuable images, the brand would increase its authenticity and the user-experience, making it more likely to convert new customers.

Low angle view of modern buildings against sky in city

Avoid The Awkward

When thinking about stock images, pixelated images of uncomfortable office interactions, or ladies laughing as they bite into salad may spring to mind. If you feel like something about an image is strange or off-putting when you first see it, stay away: it’s likely that your customer will think it’s strange too.

Additionally, don’t use images that don’t fit the context context. If you use an image of people in a park next to text about your business hours, you’re going to leave customers feeling confused and detached from your brand. Germany’s Commerzbank does a good job of using contextually accurate stock photos under each subheading, allowing customers to quickly understand which section they’re looking at. There’s plenty of incredibly natural stock imagery that won’t leave your webpage being posted under Twitter’s #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob hashtag.

Female programmer working on computer with male colleagues at desk in office

Don’t Fall For Clichés

Have you ever seen a “scientist” in protective glasses looking at an unidentified blue liquid? Perhaps a doctor holding a medical instrument up to the wrong part of their patient’s body? Varying versions of these cliché stock images have been used so often that they now seem lazy and unmistakeably replicated, and often so fake that they’re funny. Using these can lead customers to feel that your brand isn’t innovative, genuine, or worth taking seriously. This doesn’t mean you need to avoid doctors, office spaces, or the usual tropes; instead, an important technique to captivate your audience and communicate that your brand is unique is by finding new, authentic or exciting versions.

Sometimes these clichés can be considerably damaging. For example we continue to see negative trends of stereotyping and ethnic focuses when it comes to media surrounding certain global health topics. For example, we see with the major news stories surrounding the spread of coronavirus, images are often chosen without aligning them with key information or facts - misleading readers, and inturn damaging brand reputations.

Close-up of male scientist looking through microscope at laboratory

Ensure High Quality

As a customer, seeing pixelated, poorly lit, or overall unprofessional images can be a red flag. To avoid deterring customers, while also increasing their attraction and loyalty to your brand, high quality images are a necessity. This means ensuring your images have a high resolution, are well lit, well composed and look natural.

Stock images can be used to different degrees of success, as seen when comparing the London School of Economics website – which uses an array of well composed, well-lit and natural images that fit their brand – against the images on South Texas College’s website. On STC, the images are often pixelated and seem forced. This immediately shapes potential customers’ perceptions of the quality of the institution. Don’t let the quality of your images let your business down.

Creative female business professional talking through earphones while standing by window in office


  • Know Your Brand’s Visual Identity
  • Add Value
  • Avoid The Awkward
  • Don’t Fall For Clichés
  • Ensure High Quality
  • Sign Up For Fresh Inspiration

    Click here, if you want to read about more great ideas for your brand and sign up to our regular newsletter to be notified of all the latest and greatest creative and visual insights for your business.