Why Visual Marketing Ethics Matter


November 6, 2023
Kirsten Quinn

Visual marketing ethics have never mattered more than they do in this ever-evolving digital marketplace. 

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In an era where consumers demand honesty and integrity, the ethics of your marketing can make or break your brand. 

With such a focus on integrity in the marketplace, every brand should have a set of ethics and principles that they decide on with intention and practice with consistency. 

That’s where ethical visual marketing comes into play. 

Especially if you want to build a loyal client base – and maintain your clients over time – it’s important to think about some of these ethical choices when it comes to your visuals. 

Why Visual Marketing Ethics Matter

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In a world flooded with digital noise, standing out can be a challenge. Of course stunning visuals, carefully curated looks, and on-brand messaging will help you capture the spotlight. But another great way to stand out is to simply conduct your business – and your digital presence – with a strong and visible code of ethics. It’s all about building trust with your audience, and here’s why it’s so important:

1. Authenticity Builds Trust

Today’s consumers are more discerning than ever. It’s not just the product or service that matters anymore. A survey by Cohn & Wolfe found that 87% of global consumers believe it’s important for brands to “act with integrity at all times.” Authenticity, including your visuals, is key to winning your audience’s trust and establishing the kind of long-term client relationship every business owner strives for. 

2. Transparency Equals Loyalty

Transparency grows loyalty. According to Label Insight, 94% of consumers are likely to be loyal to a brand that offers transparency, which includes clear, honest and accurate visual representations of their products or services. While authenticity helps you forge a true connection with your client, transparency helps you keep it. 

3. Ethics Prevent Drama

Ethical visual marketing also helps you steer clear of drama. While social media and digital marketing spaces can be a fantastic place to share your life and your brand, there’s always the potential to ruffle some feathers. That’s why you want to be as straightforward, authentic and transparent as possible. Misleading or inappropriately sourced/cited visuals can tarnish your brand’s reputation or even lead to legal issues. 

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Tips for Ethical Visual Marketing

Once you’ve established the importance of ethical visual marketing, it’s time to put some best practices in place to ensure authenticity and transparency in your visual content. 

1. Share Real People & Stories

Visual Marketing Ethics marketing ethics why marketing ethics matter why visual marketing ethics matter ethics strategy marketing ethics strategy visual marketing visual marketing expert santa clarita visual marketing expert scv visual marketing expertGone are the days of stock photos and staged models. Showcasing real people and sharing genuine stories helps you connect with your audience on a personal level. It’s authentic, relatable, and, most importantly, real. Need ideas to help create stories around your brand? Check out our 100 Posts Guide for inspiration. 

2. Use Filters & Editing Lightly 

There’s a fine line when it comes to editing photos and using filters. You want to feel good about the photo you’re posting, but you also want to still look like you. That line can be difficult for even a professional photographer to navigate, so when we start playing around with filters and editing tools on our own images, we tend to go a bit overboard. Today, people prefer to see real, authentic faces instead of extensive filters. If you aren’t sure how to strike the perfect balance, please feel free to ask us! 

3. Disclose Sponsor Relationships

While this is more of a general marketing rule when it comes to ethics, it’s worth a mention in your visual marketing strategy, too. Not only do audiences expect brands and influencers to disclose sponsored content and affiliate relationships, but they expect it to be easily visible. Whether that means including “#ad” in your caption or including a mention in your video content, as well, you’ll want to think through your choices with intention. 

4. Respect Privacy and Data

As more and more of our information and likeness becomes available online and through shared data, it’s more important than ever to reassure your audience that you’re protecting them. At SchlickArt, all of our clients are given the option to review and sign model releases. If they do not wish to share their images, we honor their wishes 100% with no questions asked. Always obtain consent when featuring individuals or sharing personal information in your visual marketing. 

5. Be Responsible For Your Message

While this is more of a personal belief than a marketing ethic, we believe in being intentional about your messaging when it comes to sharing content. At SchlickArt, we think it’s important to focus on the positive, build each other up, and cheer each other on. We don’t use social media or our marketing platforms as a place to air grievances, talk negatively about others, or get involved in conversations that don’t have a positive end-goal. We want our clients to feel safe, happy and confident when they walk in our studio, and we work hard to maintain that same atmosphere online, as well. 

Visual Marketing Ethics marketing ethics why marketing ethics matter why visual marketing ethics matter ethics strategy marketing ethics strategy visual marketing visual marketing expert santa clarita visual marketing expert scv visual marketing expertIn today’s quickly evolving digital landscape, ethical visual marketing is not just a choice; it’s a necessity. Authenticity and transparency build trust, loyalty and long-term relationships with your audience. Plus, it helps you build a brand that people can truly relate to and invest in. Maybe you can even make a positive difference with your marketing. 

At SchlickArt Photography & Video, we’re committed to helping you create visually stunning, ethical content that resonates with your audience. Remember, honesty and transparency are your best friends in the world of visual marketing. If you have any questions or need assistance with your visual marketing journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help!

Visual Marketing Education 

At SchlickArt, we know your marketing visuals are only effective if you actually use them. That’s why we help you create powerful photography and video – and then we teach you how to share it. With each session, we’ll give you our best tips based on your specific marketing goals. We provide the education and resources you need to brand your content, integrate it into your marketing strategy, post it with intention, and maximize engagement along the way. 

If you want even more tips and resources, we have an educational blog, newsletter and video channel to help you dive deeper, as well as professional presentations, workshops, and coaching sessions if you’re ready to take action and level-up your marketing now

About SchlickArt Photography and Video

SchlickArt, a boutique photo and video studio in Santa Clarita, started in March 2012 with the simple idea that empowerment creates a kind of beauty and authenticity that shines through every camera lens. Built on a philosophy — rather than a product, service or person — SchlickArt has rapidly evolved, meeting professional portraiture, business photo and business video needs as diverse as the community we capture. It’s the desire to take care of you, the client, that drives us at SchlickArt.

author avatar
Kirsten Quinn
A lover of strong coffee and yellowed pages, Kirsten Quinn-Smith is a professional content writer and owner of WordSmith Content Marketing here in Santa Clarita. She believes great content can forge a loyal, authentic and beneficial relationship between you and your audience – and grow your business. With each piece of writing, Kirsten's goal is to position you in the content spotlight through audience-centered, strategy-based writing that actually sounds like you. Why? Everyone has a story, and every story deserves to be heard.

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