October 28, 2020
I’ve been in this business long enough to be called wise. In that time, I’ve seen a lot of changes, like how we used layout paper and markers to present ideas to clients, showing the possibilities and not the final product.
Over the years there have been game changers. The three that really stand out in my mind are the shift from film to digital, the rise of computers and the internet, and the invention of stock imagery. Gone are the days where, by default, you’d hire a photographer or an illustrator to bring your idea to life. With companies cutting back on their advertising budgets and the emergence of stock, imagery, photography and illustration became cheap and easy.
Our fast-paced world today demands a quick turnaround and speed to market. Computers have enabled us to be more efficient than ever. Today, we’ll come up with a concept and bring it to life by finding the right image or a composite of multiple images with photoshop. Tomorrow, it’s out in market. Because of this, we’ve been retrained to make this our first choice instead of considering original photography or illustration. Stock has become the go-to.
The problem is, everyone is doing it. You start to see the same imagery being used for other brands, often the competition. Yes, you can manipulate images to work with your brand, but nothing will set your ads apart like using photos or illustrations that were made just for you.
Recently, we won a new piece of business: a Canadian retailer. They were rebranding and wanted a campaign to support it for the next two years. We presented an idea that was considered breakthrough for this client and, even more exciting, they expected it to be photographed, not just photoshopped. In the end, our creative was original and ownable, and it confirmed my belief that if you want your brand to be one of a kind, you have to use a different set of resources.
Incidentally, shooting digitally makes the photoshoot process so much easier. You now have the ability to immediately view what you’ve shot, which gives you the confidence to proceed knowing when you’ve captured the perfect image. Plus, things like green screens mean you can get creative with your photos without having to break the bank, and get it to market fast. We’ve grown accustomed to using stock to replace original work, but when the digital technology of today and our creative thoughts come together, great things can happen.
Which brings me to the point of this whole story. We’ve gotten used to running with our heads down trying to get work to market on time and on budget, but we should never lose sight of what sets one brand apart from another – originality.