The Temptation of Being Too Commercial

Diluting your business, product, your website, your marketing materials, etc. to make them appear more “commercial” will just make people like them less.

Photographing business owners

It seems to be the “default” mode of doing things for businesses trying to climb to the top. The thought is that “bigger is better”, so tremendous efforts are made to look big by copying the methods and styles of the big guys.

Website designers choose stock photos of professional, unrealistic looking people in a boardroom happily smiling and pointing to graph on the whiteboard that has nothing really to do with the business. They choose a stock photo of  high rise building  to represent their facilities when in reality they’re located somewhere in the suburbs. It goes on and on.

They are confused about the difference between looking professional and looking commercial, contrived, or institutional…

A photo of your employees can look professional without looking like a contrived photo purchased from a stock photo website. The photo of your building or office space can be professional without looking like a sanitized version of an office you know couldn’t possibly exist anywhere but a corporate advertisement.

Professional doesn’t mean corporate looking or institutionalized, it just means a quality job of the photo, website, video, or other marketing material.

Remember, everything communicates – so you have to be extremely careful not to introduce thoughts, feelings, questions, or even suspicions through the elements you use.

Every photo, video, image, icon, or other creative derived from an outside source brings with it it’s own agenda – the original intent of it’s author. Each piece is designed to communicate something, some message to the viewer. That’s why stock photos are generally very sanitized – even the chart on the whiteboard has no numbers, visible data, etc. so as to not disqualify it from “fitting” in the purchasers creative.

Though it may seem like a short cut to take the “copy and paste” commercial route, it won’t take you very far. The reality of your business is always better. It’s human nature to place low value on our own stuff, so we look to imitate others. Avoid this at all costs.

A professional can see the magic that happens in your business, the uniqueness of your people, your facilities and your products, and help you show it off in a way that really engages your audience, builds trust, and creates emotional bonds.

We all have a nose only an inch above the hole in our face – yet we’re the last ones to know we have bad breath. Fresh eyes of a professional can really help you see what you’ve probably overlooked, forgotten, or don’t appreciate in your business.

Don’t I use stock photos here? Yes, but in an entirely different way. On my website I use them much like a newspaper would – to illustrate a concept with a story. Even then, be careful to match the image and the message it communicates to the story being told.