Making Unsplash Work For Your Visual Marketing Strategy

September 23, 2020 Fiona Quinn
a visual marketing strategy draft in drawing form

A well-written article without the right visual to support it is like eating a burger without the meat. Sure, you’ve got the veggies and the crazy delicious sauce to go with it, but without the meat, it couldn’t even be called a burger. While it’s not the best analogy, it’s the best way to describe reading content without photos that best represent it. How much more for visual marketing? You’ve got the brand, you’ve got the message, but do you have the right graphic to represent it?

Unsplash has been a gold mine for high-quality photos or visuals for practically anything. But now, it’s proved to be far more potent in visual marketing, making it a home for brands through organic curated posts and paid advertising. It’s “Unsplash for Brands,” as seen on the website. Here you are about to discover how you can use Unsplash to change your marketing strategy.

According to neuroscience researchers, people associate brands with images and feelings. For example, when you see a yellow M, you’d almost instantly think of McDonald’s. When you see colorful circles, you’d automatically think of either Skittles or M&M. When you feel like just doing something on a whim, you’d think of Nike. Just do it. Why is that? Somehow, continually looking at a brand in a particular context trains our minds to think of that specific brand whenever we see then randomly in real life. That’s what makes visual marketing a powerful marketing tool.

Using Unsplash for your Visual Marketing Strategy

Unsplash has always been a go-to place for photos that are used for practically anything online. Images are free with high resolution and done professionally. Now, it’s getting upgraded to become a home for brands to upload their curated photos and through paid advertising where brands align images with relevant searches. Don’t worry—you won’t be seeing popup ads anytime soon. So, let’s talk about it in detail.

Organic Posting

Brands have started uploading curated photos on Unsplash as contributors on the site. This active participation on the platform means Unsplash is also actively working with them. What does this mean for business owners?

Users get to follow a company’s brand on the site, download its photos and share them on blogs, social media posts, or even presentations. It’s a subtle exposure for brands on multiple platforms powerful enough to amp a brand’s visual marketing strategy at no cost at all. Uploading photos on Unsplash is free (if in case you didn’t know).

Let’s take a look at an example. Inside Weather is a company that sells furniture. It curates colorful and professionally done photos that have their products on them. Users who need images related to “furniture” or “apartment” for some social media posts or a blog would see their photos as options. Once they click on these photos, users either download and see a prompt that says “Say Thanks to Inside Weather,” or they can go ahead and visit the Inside Weather account for more photos. That’s where they see the profile and realize it’s a company that sells furniture. They can now follow your Unsplash profile for more pictures, or they can visit the official website to purchase some furniture.

Paid Advertising

The phrase “Paid ads on Unsplash” would immediately make you think that you might be getting interruptions when looking for photos you need. That’s not happening (thank God!) What’s interesting about having ads on Unsplash is that it doesn’t even feel like a paid ad, and yet it’s there.

Paid Advertising on Unsplash happens in just three steps. First, you upload and publish your branded image. Next, you align photos with relevant search terms. Lastly, you get these images out to publishers and creators who actively use Unsplash for users to download.

Usually, a user would need to hover over the photo to see the photographer’s name. But if you follow these steps, it becomes a paid ad or a sponsored image, and your brand’s avatar shows up by default, with the word “sponsored” labeled on the image. What’s interesting about this is that a sponsored image appears on the top left of the homepage and search results. Users can then see the sponsored image first before other photos. Subtle, but powerful.

How to Start with Unsplash for Brands

Organic posting and doing paid advertising on Unsplash changes the game in visual marketing. But how does it work? How is it advantageous for businesses?

As of this writing, the Unsplash advertising program is on an invite-only basis. Case studies have shown that there has been a success in the program. Take the case of Google Chromebook. According to Buffer, Google Chromebook on Unsplash got 95 million views over a 12-week campaign. There was a 15% increase in brand associations with productivity, creativity, travel-friendliness, a 17% increase in purchase consideration amongst people looking for a new laptop, and 308,000 downloads of Google Chromebooks images. Based on this data, there’s significant potential in Unsplash advertising.

Kantar Brand Lift Insights Research even shows that Unsplash has proven to be more effective in elevating how people feel about a brand than TV, digital, and Instagram campaigns.

With all these facts, business owners can rearrange their virtual marketing strategy using Unplash for Brands. After all, it could help with brand exposure without actually being promotional—a subtle yet powerful way to reach your target market and build your brand’s reputation while giving back to the community.

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