The lack of appeal that litters a lot of the marketing campaigns in Zimbabwe is all thanks to a shocking trend that seems to have become the norm. This trend is the use of stock images which is now so rampant in marketing campaigns it is just embarrassing, to say the least. Stock images are photos that are available for purchase online, this means they can be used by anyone who purchases them.
The risky part of using a stock image for your brand’s campaign is the same risk that comes with falling in love with a hired car, it will never be yours alone. Someone else can hire your car and you cannot report them to the police when you see them driving “your” car. Basically, you have no ownership rights at all.
Local vs International
First of all, the internet has made the world smaller. We can access content in other countries at the click of a button. This has broadened the consumer’s exposure and they are no longer just served adverts from local companies only and neither do they just read local websites. Consequently it makes it even harder to get away with using stock images as another organization has probably used the same image.
As you can see above ZOL used an image which was used by Socialeemedia.co.uk as the featured image for an article on their website. Socialeemedia.co.uk made perfect use of the stock image as stock images should only be used for blog posts and never for branding.
The fact that the image being used to humanize these brands can be used by absolutely anyone who has paid for it is scary when you think of the many industries around the world that can use it. Take the Telecel advert below for example which was also used on a website for sex performance drugs. Embarrassing isn’t it.
GetCash also fell into the stock image trend but theirs is a bit more embarrassing because they used a stock a logo. As with the images, it creates the same problem but a logo is worse because it is what must differentiate and be a unique identifier.
The obvious downside of this is even you can use that logo for your Got Caught (Pvt) Ltd and Get Cash cannot drag you to court for using “their” logomark. What if someone from that country comes to Zimbabwe, will they trust your brand or consider the whole business operation a sham?
Local vs Local
Moving on to the local scene it gets a little bit more interesting as we are now the home of using stock imagery in marketing materials. The probability of using the same images in such a situation becomes higher since almost everyone is doing it.
It even gets embarrassingly worse as TelOne, Netone, and EcoCash have all used stock images of the same woman in the same attire. She is used so much it seems we have all adopted.
If branding is all about creating a unique name and image then the use of stock images in our campaigns is certainly the death of branding. In preparation for branding’s funeral, the stock image granny was used by those in the business of death.
Evidently, this means that the creativity of our marketing is being held hostage by stock image servers. Whatever those servers hold is what our marketing efforts in Zimbabwe will be built around. Stock images are the reason behind our boring marketing campaigns. Stock images are cheap and as much as technology should help to make our lives easier they absolutely have no place in marketing campaigns. Especially of these organizations that have a huge a marketing budget. It is reckless to make a stock image the face of your brand when it can be used by absolutely anyone for anything. You need to be in absolute control of your brand’s image. Honestly, this trend is embarrassing and it should stop.
Tapiwa Creates is a creative (Web, Advertising, Branding) & a design consultant. He writes at www.tapiwacreates.com/blog when he is not fighting the design battle against ugliness.