You're creating a social media post and you need a photo of a smiling client, in an environment that vaguely resembles what you do. Quick Google or iStock search and - boom. Got it. Right click, copy. Right click, paste. Sometimes you find the right photo for free - but it's resolution is too low. Sometimes you pay for it (at a ridiculous $33/photo), and sometimes you just snag it anyway - watermark and all. So you end up with either a fuzzy, an expensive, or a watermarked photo.
All of those solutions are working against your branding. Because Stock Photography is NOT cheap especially when you need several of them across different channels. (I mean how many times can you use the same smiling "customer" until even you are getting sick at looking at them?)
This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest and easiest mistakes to avoid when you are building your brand. Stock photos are great in a pinch, but if you are up and running - you should have at least a handful of high-quality photos of you, of your building (if you have a brick and mortar), of some of your employees, of your products and even of the community in which you work. People want to know that there are real human beings who exist on the other end of the product or service they're paying for.
And it's not as expensive as you think. Even certain cell phones can produce high quality photography as long as you're outside on a sunny day (just make sure the sun is to the side of your subject). All you need is someone who can hold a camera (or phone) steady and some free time. Ask your employees to throw on their branded shirts and take some photos as you normally would spend your day. See, here's Karen working at her desk. There's David on the phone talking to one of our customers. And here we are outside of the office laughing because we love our jobs so much. You get the idea.
Think about the type of photos you usually search for. Happy clients? Office staff? Products? City skyline? You have all the elements - just block out a couple of hours one afternoon to get the shots - even if you have to take them yourself. You'll save money, save time later, and end up with a much more authentic and stronger brand.