7 ways to choose stock images for your brand


Quality brand images are so important for your business. They can communicate your message, call in your dream clients, and inspire people to buy from you. The downside? Brand photography can cost hundreds of dollars. And to a small business owner just beginning, purchasing great photos can feel like a luxury.

Fortunately, you can create a solid visual identity for your brand without hiring a photographer. In fact, you can create a visual identity for your brand without spending any money whatsoever. The solution? Stock images.

Stock images are free or paid photos that you can use to promote your products, services, or brand message. For just a few bucks (or no bucks at all) you can populate your social media feeds, promotions, and website with quality photography. The downside? Millions of pictures to choose from, and the challenge of communicating your personal brand through generic pictures.

Instead of wasting hours searching a stock site or spending cash on photos that don’t work for you, here’s 7 tips for choosing better stock images.

1. Reflect your audience's mood

Are you selling planners to activity-packed moms? Or do you coach introverted creatives? Think about what mood your audience is in when they notice, engage with, and buy from you. Do they feel adventurous and wild? Introspective and dreamy? Calm and collected? Energized and confident? Search for images that match the  voice and vibe of your audience. 

2. Search according to your copy

What text will go on, or with, the image? If you’re searching for an image to promote your free sunrise yoga session, you can search for “sunrise” or “yoga” images. Or you could get creative by searching for beaches, movement, athletes, morning, breakfast, or sand.

Go deeper by searching for images according to the message of your copy. Words like trust, relax, happy, confident, or zen could turn up unexpected, fresh images for your brand.

3. Consider the use

Do you plan to place text over the image? Consider how the background colors will contrast with your copy. Is there enough room? Will the words pop, or even show up at all Do you need a horizontal or vertical image? Before spending time or money on a stock picture, think about how you plan on using it and how much use you can get from a single image.

4. Pick people

Selfies are popular for a reason: data shows that humans love looking at other humans faces. Including people in your images will instantly humanize your message. And the pictures doesn’t have to have someone facing the camera — subjects looking away, or images of hands and feet, allow the reader to imagine themselves as the image’s main character. If your audience can imagine themselves within your narrative, you’re halfway there.

5. Mirror your audience

Seeing is believing. When someone can visualize themselves using your product or interacting with your brand, they’re much more likely to insert themselves into your narrative. So choose stock images that feature people who look just like your customers. Fashionable professionals, outdoorsy hipsters, sporty moms, imaginative kids or messy-but-loveable families… Showcasing these characters can be a call for dream clients.  

6. Search according to your brand colors

Here at Rarest Fortune, we love images of nature. Mountains, fields, streams and skies flood our feed because these images convey a sense of whimsy and adventure, and that’s the kind of energy we hope to bring to our projects. But instead of searching for nature scenes, sometimes we simply search according to our brand colors. We may find a hazy, orange desert or foggy,  purple mountain range, a lavender field or clementine tree.

7. Consider alterations

Between a rock and a hard place lies Photoshop. If you’ve found a good image that’s not quite a perfect match for your brand, consider playing around in PS. Changing the image from warm to cool, blurring a background or removing an element can transform a so-so image into something that perfectly matches your brand and message.


VisualsJessica Bramlett