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Taking Stock: Sheryl Sandberg Is Now in the Image Game

Stock photography can be incredibly frustrating at times for designers. The image we formulate in our minds is rarely what we get when conducting a search. We may want a woman of a certain age, involved in a certain activity, or within a specific environment.

We’re ultimately looking for something that is on brand, nicely styled and relevant. What we often get is a reflection of how things have always been, not a projection of where they are going, and the images associated with a brand can play a pivotal role in the messages we convey.

This is particularly true in health marketing where we almost always see traditional gender roles at play. When an image depicts a child and a caregiver, it’s usually the mom we see dolling out a bandage or medication. The female nurse takes our temperature, but the male doctor performs our surgery. As a designer, these image options are challenging to work with. Rarely do they satisfy our vision of our client’s brand, and they don’t always connect in a real, authentic way.

Sheryl Sandberg has some ideas about how to give us an alternative.

After shaking things up with her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, Sandberg built a brand out of it with her website, blogs, and strong social media presence. Her recent collaboration with Getty Images is just another step towards changing perceptions about women and how we portray them in marketing and advertising. It’s an attempt, and a good one at that, to help designers and clients break away from these dated misconceptions and do something fresh and forward thinking with their brands’ visual identities.

Brands that connect authentically with customers tend to be very successful, and image plays a large role in that relationship. When we take in something visual we have an emotional reaction prior to an intellectual one. That power to affect with image puts a lot of responsibility in the hands of designers and communicators. Having a more modern, pioneering gallery of stock photography elevates the role of design in marketing and branding and gives us more effective ways to communicate.

If a brand truly has a long-term vision, it needs to stay one step ahead in its consumer interactions. At InterbrandHealth we believe that brands that have that foresight and take ownership of visual messaging have the power to inspire, to change perceptions, and to truly change the world.


Senior Creative Director