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Why Free Images Aren't Worth the Risk: Investing in Custom Illustrations for Your Business

written by Mandy Johnson

As a small business owner or marketer, you may be tempted to use clipart or other free images instead of paying for custom illustrations. However, while using free images may seem like a cost-effective solution, there are several reasons why investing in custom illustrations is a better option in the long run.


Using clipart or other free images can lead to a lack of originality in your marketing materials. Free images are widely available and are used by many other businesses, which means that your marketing materials could look very similar to those of your competitors. This can lead to a lack of differentiation, making it harder for your brand to stand out.

In contrast, custom illustrations can be tailored to your specific needs and can help your marketing materials stand out from the crowd. This can help to increase brand recognition and make your materials more memorable. A great example of this is "Finn" - the brand character that Sketchnotes UK created for the agency Be More Digital (pictured left).

We illustrated a series of images of Finn - showing different facial expressions and carrying out a variety of activities. This provided the agency with evergreen content that they use on their website, in their marketing campaigns and in their training materials.


The risks of clipart

Clipart and other free images may not accurately represent your brand or message. Free images are often generic and may not fully capture the nuances of your brand or the message you're trying to convey. On the other hand, custom illustrations can be created to specifically represent your brand and message, making them more effective at communicating your unique value proposition.


Legal issues

Using free images can potentially lead to legal issues. Many free images are subject to copyright restrictions, and using them without permission can lead to costly legal problems down the line. In contrast, custom illustrations are created specifically for your business and are usually owned by you, meaning that you have full control over how they are used.


Finally, custom illustrations can be an investment in the long-term success of your business. While paying for custom illustrations may require a larger upfront investment, the quality and originality of the illustrations can help to increase the effectiveness of your marketing materials. This, in turn, can lead to increased

  • brand recognition,

  • customer engagement, and

  • increased revenue.

In conclusion, while using clipart or other free images may seem like a cost-effective solution, investing in custom illustrations can provide many benefits in the long run. Custom illustrations can help to differentiate your brand, accurately represent your message, avoid potential legal issues, and provide a long-term investment in the success of your business.

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