How to Create an Authentic Brand Using Stock Photos

You know that moment while secretly stalking another brand, and you get an overwhelming feeling of… inspiration (ahem, jealousy?) of how beautiful the entire brand is! You start to wonder how they create such a “perfectly” crafted brand, oozing with authenticity.

Well, in this blog, we’re going to break down how to create an authentic brand using stock photos. (Here’s one brand we love to “stalk,”… and she’s using our imagery to create a beautiful and authentic brand!) 

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There are SO many stock photo options out there, but what is hard to find are stock photos that tell a unique story.

Good news, we have a creative team who does all that hard work to bring you imagery that you can use to tell YOUR authentic brand story. You may have noticed, there has been a lot of chatter in recent times about moving away from “perfect Instagram feeds” to being more “authentic.” Well, UNPOPULAR OPINION alert, we disagree! You need to move away from generic, cookie-cutter imagery that every other person is using and find stock images that inspire you and speak to the heart of your audience!

The perceived value of your brand is SO important. Which means, in the eyes of your potential client or customer, your product or service is only as valuable as the images you use to showcase it. In other words, your images represent the quality of your business. If you want to look cheap, then use free cookie-cutter stock images. If you want to look elevated and professional, use a curated stock image service. We’re slightly biased, but we could make a case for beautiful stock imagery all day!

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But before we break down how to create an authentic brand with stock photos, we have a freebie for you! If you want to save time making content (let’s be honest, we all do!), we’re giving you our guide, How to turn 1 piece of content into 12”. It’s a SUPER practical way of repurposing your content and will change how you create it!! Click this link to get it today.

Now on to the good stuff! Here are our 3 focus areas for how YOU can create an authentic brand using stock photos.

01. An authentic brand starts by telling a story.

Images are a part of your branding, but they are not THE brand. Your story and mission are the brand. Images are simply tools to help you share that story with your audience and your brand images are a launching point that helps you connect with your audience.

First, find your story and then pair that story with an image. Knowing your story will give you confidence in choosing imagery and creating an authentic brand that connects with your customer. You can do this by considering images in a broader sense.

Our biggest tip that we often share is: Don’t box images into categories!

For example, promoting a podcast by adding an image of a podcast mic is easy, but everyone is doing that! It’s a generic way to promote your podcast. Find an image that tells the story behind the podcast. Create an authentic brand by digging deep into the topics you will discuss and then pair those topics with imagery that tells that story without being too “black and white” about the imagery. Pause, step back, and think about what that image says and how that applies to something you want to discuss.

Not sure how to do this in practice? We’ll show you how!

Here are some beautiful images with more depth than generic “one-size-fits-all” stock photos. Check out the topic prompts that come to mind when we look at these images:

In this image, you can easily open up topics about:

  1. Things lining up for you personally / your business / your audience
  2. The struggle to find balance
  3. The need for perfection
  4. How could you help someone get organized
different colored mood stones in a line on a white background

This image is great for sharing about:

  1. Potential
  2. Prospects
  3. Feeling all tied up and stuck
  4. Born for adventure
  5. Competition
boats all docked in a line with a beautiful mountain background

We love paths and doors! There is so much potential in images that have pathways and doors featured in them. Talk about topics such as

  • Open doors
  • Closed doors
  • When one door closes, another opens
  • Unknown paths
  • Stay on the path
  • Finding your path
old wooden doors at the end of a path. An organic and textured setting.

Here is a great image to help you create an authentic brand. You can talk about your work without it being your typical “desktop” imagery that is everywhere. Talk about what you are celebrating in your work:

  • A new launch 
  • Another year in business
  • Locking in a big client
  • Getting through the day
  • It’s the weekend!
champagne glass, laptop on a soft pink background

Thinking outside the box about what stock images you need and focusing on what images inspire you is the magic sauce. Essentially, if the imagery connects with you, it will most likely connect with your audience. All you need to do is find the images that resonate with you and tell YOUR story.

02. Create an authentic brand by choosing the right stock images:

To create an authentic brand, we recommend you vary the types of images to bring visual balance. There are 5 different categories of images that we like to work with. These include studio imagery, conceptual or editorial imagery, background & texture imagery,  lifestyle shots, and personal images.

Blending a variety of these kinds of images into your brand will give you an elevated and professional presence online. A trusted brand with a high perceived value helps you create an authentic brand.

Let’s break down what each of these image types means!

Image Types:

Studio imagery:

  • Technically elevated
  • Prop-focused, prop-forward, the props are telling the story
  • Tighter shot, defined ‘scene’
  • Superior studio lighting
  • Perfectly balanced and styled
  • Often includes tech and desktop props
  • Sharp focus

Conceptual or editorial:

Editorial photography is a style of photography that helps to tell a story.  Usually, these types of images are not meant to advertise a product; rather, they are an art form in itself and serve well as statement imagery.

Background & texture:

Close-up detail shots focused on color and texture.

Lifestyle imagery:

  • Gorgeous spaces and places
  • A sense of environment/space
  • People in the image
  • Travel
  • Interiors
  • Daily life with a human element
  • Styling is not ‘perfect’
  • Not a flat lay

Personal:

  • Environmental images of you and your team 
  • Close-up face shots 
  • Specific product images
  • Behind the scenes of what you’re working on

Creating a blend and variety of these image types will bring harmony to your brand. Essentially, the clean, simplified studio imagery balances out the busier lifestyle imagery. And by adding personal images you will add the personalized human element to your brand. While the background and textured images add depth and create an excellent canvas for adding text graphics.  Also, something to note, color should always be a unifying element.

03. Create an authentic brand by creating consistency across all platforms

You can (and should) use stock images on anything your brand touches that is customer-facing. Generally, polished imagery increases the perceived value of your product or service and is the first client touchpoint to introduce your brand. 

The biggest misconception about stock photos is that they can ONLY be used for social media. Generally, this way of thinking is considered incorrect. Basically, stock images can be used on your social, your Pinterest, your headers, your courses, your lead magnets, your promotional material, your website, your client welcome packs, and SO much more. The bottom line is to ensure you keep a consistent brand visuality across all your platforms. When a client clicks from your Pinterest pin to your website, can they tell that it is the same brand? 

We’ve broken down all the places you can use brand imagery to create an authentic brand: 10 places to uplevel your brand with styled stock. This is your chance to check if your bases are covered and your brand is consistent across all your platforms.


If you’re looking to create an authentic brand, it’s essential to use images that inspire you and speak to the heart of your audience. We have a creative team who does all that hard work to bring you imagery that you can use to tell YOUR authentic brand story. Check out our selection of stock photos and find the perfect ones for your next project! Start by downloading our 20 free images, including an IG action plan.

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