Why Not To Use Stock Graphics On Your Startup

I really love stock sites like iStockPhoto.  I’ve purchased almost a hundred images.

During SXSW, an article was published about Twitter’s main homepage image being stock, with some pretty heavy faux outrage about how this is bad.  Horrible, off topic headline.  First off, the author doesn’t differentiate between spec and stock.  Stock = 100 people can buy the same image.  Spec = 100 custom images are created, one is paid for.  That is just sloppy journalism.   Twitters use of stock isn’t unethical at all, but one could argue with the mass pile of cash they have raised, $1000 for an illustration should have been on the list of purchases.

Second, if you use stock for your startup, just remember that there is a downside: other people can use it too.

Twiter.com (notice one t) is a squatter looking to cash in on the misspellings:

hmmm... that birdie looks familiar...

hmmm... that birdie looks familiar...

See that birdie?  Same as the Twitter homepage.  And they can do that legally because it was a stock image, which is still on sale today.

The actual Twitter homepage

The actual Twitter homepage

Stock sites are great resources for ideas and simple images.  Be careful not to rely on them too much.  And if you do, send a big thank you to the designer when you make it big.

  • That's pretty incredible! I definitely have used stock vectors before, confidently not expecting the site to become a household brand or a verb. I guess this story tells me to think big, and to go for it.

  • It does get interesting.

    I am done with paying for graphics work when I am launching a new idea. Start with a temp logo and then order graphics work if it turns out that you need it. It is awfully easy to spend hundreds when brainstorming logo designs, especially if you don't know what you want the logo to be. 🙂

  • Good points. It seems inherently dangerous to brand your company around stock content, but I suppose these things are easy to overlook when you're still a little guy who can't capitalize on a branding anyway.

  • I really love stock sites like iStockPhoto. I’ve purchased almost a hundred images…………………….

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