"I'll have one of those please", my wife said pointing to the picture of a starter on the menu.
"Errrm, No you won't. We just cut and pasted that from Google images - I think it is actually Chinese food!" replied the waiter.
We were sat in an Indian restaurant at the time and just burst out laughing at this response. Rather than head out the door to the nearest Chinese restaurant, my wife chose Chicken Chat as usual. However the response from the waiter pretty well sums up our view of the place. The "wow" factor isn't there. You will just get a tasty meal at a resonable price and the staff are good for a laugh. If you stop and think about this in more detail you might draw a few other conclusions:
The images you use tell your story, they build or destroy your brand. If like the restaurant above you use someone else's photos, apart from the copyright issues you are not telling your customers anything about you or how great your business is! They are not going to connect with your brand and they are unlikely to become a loyal customer returning time and time again. Not the best way to grow a successful business.
The same can be said of stock images. I follow a local business on Twitter which regularly uses stock photos in their feed. The business is based in the English Lake District, an area which has just been awarded world heritage status for its outstanding beauty. The stock photos they use are obviously not taken in the Lake District, in fact most of them look like they are not even taken in England, but in a completely different country! With so much beautiful scenery on their doorstep and so many competitors that are smart enough to show pictures of the Lake District I really wonder why they bother. The message they are sending out to the world is confusing at best. It certainly doesn't encourage me to use their business or recommend it to anyone else. I wonder if I can trust them as their feed is not authentic, and I get no impression of what their business is really like.
So when you are choosing images to post on your website or in your social media feed here are 5 questions that you should ask yourself:
Here are two examples to show you what I mean:
Story telling: Jack Holden from Mountain Oak WoodCraft in the shot below produces hand made gates - here is part of the story:
Authentic: This is a photograph of a Chocolate Mousse dessert from the A la Carte menu at the Punchbowl Inn at Crosthwaite - if you order this, this is what you get!
It may not be practical or affordable to use a professional photographer for every image you want to use on your social media. But if you are using your photographs where they will be seen for several weeks (e.g. on your website or printed brochures) by hopefully thousands of people then you do need to use images that reflect your brand and what your business stands for. Your engagement with customers will increase and they will grow to love and respect your product or service. If you are not convinced just look at the photography in Marks & Spencer's food advertisements. The food always looks mouthwatering, beautiful and of high quality - right in line with their brand strategy.
If you think you need some new pictures that more accurately reflect your brand's values lets's have a chat, please give me a call on 07557 780336. Check out this special offer for Food Photography shoots booked in August - see here
If you want to see more on how good photography can help your brand here is some Further reading
Words and photographs by R Gill