I’m sure you’re aware of that famous saying…

A picture tells 1000 words.

However, in marketing, sometimes your picture is doing more harm than good. Maybe it is telling 1,000 words but they aren’t good ones. As someone with a background in web design and branding, photos are essential. Photos help create a landscape all by their own. Many brands have taken hold to this principal and include photos to enhance their brand story. However, sometimes attaching photos that do not match to your brand can do more harm than good.

When small businesses open up shop, depending on their budget, they may not have tons of resources and funds to shoot professional shots of their company or of the people that they serve. They may turn to free stock websites or even premium stock websites to obtain images for their promotions, social media quotes, and more.

The problem I’m starting to see is that brands are not taking into consideration that you may be telling a white lie about your brand.

Your demographic is really important. It is super important. I can’t stress this enough. Just throwing up images for the sake of having one is not going to work. Also, based upon who your brand is for should be taken into account. Now some of you may say to me…

Genesis, isn’t this obvious?

Well it obviously isn’t because this came across my Facebook feed and I had to write about it.

At first nothing looks wrong. This looks so beautiful. Of course, let’s not talk about how empty this roller skating place looks. Now there are some beautiful places in Baltimore. However, it’s the comments that took me to another level of laughter.

What we see from the comments are reactions that show that this photo was not chosen with wisdom. I had one business owner use a stock photo of clothing that she did not even sell on her site. Her customers were expecting the quality that was shown in these stock photos. Sometimes, we do more damage than we think. Marketing is to put on the good side of your business. It is to promote the “ideals” and the vision of your brand. However, we must make sure that we aren’t compromising our marketing strategies for our customer experience.

The Shake N’ Bake based in Baltimore,MD was actually started by a former NFL Colts Player. Here is an image taken from a Baltimore Sun Article here. What we see in this photo is not what is being marketed.

What can we learn from all of this? The best marketing is playing with your strengths. You should market to your audience and build a strategy around that. What would draw in more clientele that fits the demographic and the environment of your business? So many times we are focused on drawing in clients from anywhere that we aren’t focused on bringing in the right clients that fit our brand. You can actually make it without throwing up stock photos that do not fit your brand. I’m not saying that stock photos are horrible. I’m a huge fan of places like Unsplash, Death to the Stock Photo, PicJumbo, ect. However, when you’re adding these photos to your site, make sure that they fit who you’re demographic and audience is.

When I started Girls of Royalty, a Christian-based network, I wanted it to be multi-cultural. Of course, being that I’m African-American, the core group that stood with me was also of the same race. However, with our hard work and reach we now have members and writers who are of different races and cultures. We make sure that our photos and branding represent that. You will see graphics showcasing women of different colors and ages.

You brand for who is meant for you and not just for any random person that may not even latch on to your vision. I’m a 24 year old woman. I’m pretty sure the Baby Boomer Club isn’t busy wasting their marketing dollars on millennials my age. I’ll be highlighting more hilarious graphic design & marketing mistakes that I run across. I think they will all provide us with lessons to learn from. I even have mistakes of my own that I’ll be sharing.

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