We hear it all the time, “representation matters.” But this idea isn’t just for television shows and entertainment outlets, it holds great import for businesses and brands.

Too often, brands and businesses use stock photos instead of local imagery just to look worldly. The models may look like our cousins and the settings are generic. But let’s be honest, Jamaican audiences can’t connect culturally.

It’s weird seeing an image of a woman on Bank of America’s Instagram page and then she shows up on your local supermarket’s page? If nothing else, it’s an indication that many brands and businesses are disengaged with their customers.

Brands should use images that resonate with the local market. A brand cannot fully engage with its target audience if it strikes consumers as alien. Consumers need to feel a personal connection to stay loyal. There is no easier way to do this than to integrate local imagery into branding. It brings authenticity and relatability, helping the brand stand out in a marketing landscape already supersaturated with generic images.

Images of Jamaican people, places and products will always have a positive impact on consumers here. The more positive feelings that people associate with a brand, the more likely they are to support it.

Local imagery is also the best way of reflecting reality. Imagery that is not authentic feels dishonest to consumers who expect what is advertised to match what is available in store. When consumers see branding and imagery that matches the reality of what the brand actually offers, they subconsciously associate the brand with honesty.

The use of local imagery is particularly effective for aspirational marketing campaigns. Such imagery makes the goals of aspirational marketing appear more accessible and realistic for consumers to pursue. A brand’s advertising must energise its customers to aspire to the ideals of its campaigns. Generic imagery alienates the consumer base by making the goals feel off-target and almost not worth the effort.

Investing in local imagery is essential for any brand serious about building viable and positive relationships with Jamaican consumers.