How to create branded images using stock photos

by | Dec 19, 2017 | Branding | 0 comments

Create branded images using stock photos

Create branded images using stock photos

Let’s take a look at how you can create branded images using stock photos.

When you are starting out as a business, stock image websites can be a godsend. These beautifully curated photos can lift your brand so you can punch far above your weight in business. BUT if the good ones are used EVERYWHERE how can you really stand out? 

These days, everything is SO visual – we need pictures for marketing, for websites, for ads, for print, for social media… constantly! Not all of us have a big wodge of cash to spend on either getting high quality photos taken specifically for our business or even the money to invest in buying stock imagery. Pictures are a growing currency in marketing. Use the wrong image and your business can look cheap and nasty. Get it right and your business is flying.


[Weeps into cold cup of tea]


The good news (yay!) is that with a few little tricks and tweaks, you can create some drop-dead gorgeous images to use in your business without spending the big money, without commissioning photoshoots or hiring graphic designers to make sure everything is ‘on brand’ (ooh, I do hate that corporate language).

You can create your own brand look just using a few FREE online tools, FREE or very cheap photos from reputable stock image websites and a little bit of pixie dust. And once you’ve mastered your brand ‘look’ you can reuse your creations again and again throughout your marketing. No wasted time, no sitting there looking at a blank screen wondering when the inspiration fairy is going to hit you over the head and no more random photos of your dog (unless the dog is particularly cute or business relevant that day – can happen, honest!).

So, to help out the inspiration fairy sitting on your shoulder, I’ve put together five super dooper, easy peasy, whizzy ways that you can create something wonderful for YOUR BRAND.


[cue, mystical magic music]


1. Choose photos with a similar theme

I know, it can be like being a kid in a sweetie shop when you jump onto free image websites. Especially the likes of Unsplash where each image looks as if it should be sold in Getty images for hundreds a pop.

But hold your horses. Each image you use, be it on your blog, in your marketing or on social media needs to say the right thing about your business so choosing a bunch of random pretty pictures isn’t going to boost your business, even if it does turn more heads.


a. Go into this with a mission. What sort of images will say something about your brand character? Funny? Wistful? Natural? Exciting? Sparkly? Pretty?

Need some help with finding those images? Check out my FREE images cheatsheet >>Here<<

b. Don’t worry about colours at this point. You might have an idea of your brand colours, but keep your mind open to possibilities as we can add colours, layout and fonts later on.

c. Then collect together everything that communicates this (remember to make a note of any attribution you need to make for the original photography). You’ll end up with a nice fat folder of inspirational images that you can draw on at any time.


2. Template it up

This stage is one of the most useful parts of creating imagery for your business. It will save you oodles of doodles time later on down the road.


a. You can use any graphics app to do this but if you are new to this I suggest either Canva ( or Picmonkey ( as they are very user friendly and most of the tools are completely free to boot!

b. Although you will probably want to create a template for all your platforms (eg: FB, Twitter, Instagram, your blog), start your first design with the one you are most familiar with. Both Picmonkey and Canva have a huge range of already sized up for you templates for these things so go ahead and pick something that works for you. You can then play with it to make it truly yours.

c. Once you have created your templates, you can save them all in your free Canva or Picmonkey account and return to edit them each time you need to create something new.

Create branded images using stock photos

Loads a templates for all sorts of posts and printables in Picmonkey and Canva

Create branded images using stock photos

Loads a templates for all sorts of posts and printables in Picmonkey and Canva


3. Use your colours

One of the most powerful tools you have in your branding arsenal will be your colours. Having these already worked out and consistent across everything you do can really boost your image and create an instantly recognisable brand. If you haven’t already done so, take my FREE BRANDING QUIZ {link} to get some fantastic colour ideas that suit your business to a T.


Use those filters!
The key here is consistency. Using the same filter settings across all your images can really boost the ‘I recognise that business’ factor. Here are some easy ways you can use your colours to create a filtered look.

Create branded images using stock photos

Add a coloured layer over the top of your image in Canva

Create branded images using stock photos

Add a photo effect in Picmonkey. This is an ombre layer which you can define as your brand colours (yay!) but you can also choose from lots of preset filters, just like Instagram.

Add another layer
Adding a coloured layer behind your main text can both boost your message (text that is readable is always a good idea) and add an element of your brand to your images.

Create branded images using stock photos

Add a simple solid coloured shape behind your text to make it stand out.

Create branded images using stock photos

Add a transparent shape behind your text whilst keeping some of the picture.


Keep it consistent
Don’t be tempted to stray too far from your core brand colours.


4. Use your fonts

Using a consistent set of fonts is a great way of drawing together your imagery and making it your own.


Boost your character
Different styles of fonts have different characters and they can say a lot about your business. A swoopy, elegant font might say traditional, quality or girly, a hand drawn font might say fun, childlike or welcoming.

You should have only 2 or 3 main fonts to use throughout your graphics. But choose only ONE font that SHOUTS your brand’s character. Too many interesting fonts can make a confusing mess, whether it is on one image or over a number in your marketing

Be consistent
There are SO many to choose from and even I’ve been tempted to stray from my brand guidelines when a GORGEOUS font has jumped out at me. BUT be consistent with your fonts and you will instantly add bags of your brand character to all your images. Stay strong!!


5. Adding MORE character

Stock images can really work, but sometimes you need to add your own little something to make it truly yours.


Special effects
This is where Picmonkey really shines. You can add sparkles, frames, focus, multiple layers and get super creative. Here are a few ideas to get you started…

Create branded images using stock photos

Adding textured overlays in Picmonkey. This is one of their clouds textures.

Create branded images using stock photos

Adding effects in Picmonkey such as bokeh hearts and focal effects to focus in on her face in this image

Create branded images using stock photos

Adding a frost frame effect in Picmonkey. Simples



Illustrate it
It can be very easy to overdo this, but combining one or more pictures together can really work to make an image totally yours. There are loads of illustrations, clip art, photos and graphics you can use for free or very cheap in Canva and a few in Picmonkey. Just be careful that you limit your use to a couple at most and keep it consistent across all your marketing.

I use my Business Beautician fairy to illustrate my images. I just upload her as another graphic layer and bingo, it’s instantly mine


6. Sign it off

Add your logo, your name or your website to each graphic. This can be a lovely way to show that something is yours and help people to find you online once your images have been shared.


This is easily done in both Canva and Picmonkey. Just add an overlay in Picmonkey or add an upload in Canva. Canva will even save previous uploads for you to save you time.

Keep it consistent, consistent, consistent
Place your logo or web address in the same place each and every time. Use the same colours, overlays and layout. This keeps your designs consistent, making them instantly recognisable and your own.

Once you’ve figured out your ‘look’, making graphics will be SO much easier. You’ll know what colours will work for your marketing. You won’t have to spend hours fiddling about finding the right fonts. You will have a raft of images just waiting to be you-ified (totally a word).

Need help deciding what look will really suit your business? Take my FREE BRANDING QUIZ (link) and get a FREE style guide pdf with suggestions for the perfect colours, fonts and graphics for your business’s unique character.

Kat <3

Branding Guide

Kat Reynolds
Kat Reynolds


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