Watermark speaks to who we are: Unafraid to innovate

May 25, 2012 | By Maria Dias | Company News, Creative, Visual Trends

When you’re in this business – at a crossroads of technology, content and digital media – you must never be afraid to create, innovate and evolve.

We take this approach in much of what we do, and it’s why we were so excited to announce this week the launch of our new Getty Images watermark for our still imagery, working with the creative agency R/GA to take something that was seen as a barrier and turn it into something that’s useful, respectful and reflects who we are.

John Galliano-runway-Watermark-Getty Images-Pascal Le Segretain-127867695

A model walks the runway during the John Galliano Ready to Wear Spring / Summer 2012 show during Paris Fashion Week on October 2, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

You may have heard about it on Facebook or Twitter (our favorite Tweet? “More than the fact that Getty changed the watermark, I <3 the fact that it now has utility. This is innovative…” Thanks, @myzuk!), but put simply, the redesign replaced our old watermark (our logo embedded across the center of an image) with a more subtle, side-aligned icon that provides our friends and customers with vital information at a glance, along with a URL that will help them find the image on our site.

“We are very excited to introduce our new watermark, which was produced in collaboration with R/GA London and is the result of months of research and discussion with our customers and development team,” said Getty Images Senior Vice President of Marketing Jim Gurke.

“During the beta phase, customer feedback was overwhelmingly positive and it was clear that the old watermark was seen as more of a hindrance than a benefit,” he said. “Our new watermark now reflects what Getty Images is all about – sharing inspiring content while adding context and value.”

Of course, if customers need creative imagery comps, they still have the ability to sign in and download a watermark-free image, via an Easy Access Download. But regardless of what our customers’ specific needs are, generally, what we’re hearing is this change adds value.

Alessandra Lariu, who has been an art director and creative director in the digital space since 1994 (she’s now the CEO of the innovative creative agency Shout and co-founder of She Says), agrees.

“I think it’s great that the image number and photographer name are there, rather than just the logo,” said Lariu, who also is a board member with the Art Directors Club. “From a design perspective, I probably would have made it half the height, but that’s just me! Design is so subjective … But I like that this is a very modern way of doing a watermark.”

Modern is exactly how George Prest, Executive Creative Director for R/GA, intended for the watermark to be perceived. As he led efforts to implement this change from a design/brand perspective, the idea of taking something exclusive — and turning it into something inclusive — was at the core of his work.

“If people are proud of something, how do they treat it?” he said. “They don’t stamp something on top of it. They make sure it looks good.

“The digital world is an open one and a collaborative one, and this watermark speaks to that,” he said. “It’s an incredibly simple thing, but it’s very powerful.”

And it’s a true reflection of Getty Images.

Prest said he was impressed at how open Getty Images was to this change, and he was amazed at how quick the company was able to take this from idea to action.

But that kind of agility has always been part of who we are – just ask Gurke.

“We seized this as an opportunity to turn the watermark into a positive and industry-innovating tool, which we believe will greatly benefit our customers,” he said. “Furthermore, it also streamlines image sourcing, making it easier for our customers to access our content quickly and effectively.”

 That fact is not lost on our photographers, who are welcoming the change.

“The new watermark is great,” said Getty Images photographer Chris Jackson, who is known for his coverage of the UK’s Royal Family. “I love the way you can get the information you need in a quicker and more instantly accessible way – it has given the watermark a dual functionality that takes it from being  a negative (something to combat image theft) to a positive (something that provides information). And it looks great!”

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