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When it comes to the financial services industry, trust, or lack there of, has been a popular topic. The past few years have brought about a slew of rebrandings as many financial institutions, especially banks, have tried to overcome widespread negative perceptions of Wall Street, and reengage a wary customer base.

As brand strategists, we have watched the evolution of these financial brands with great interest (and even participated in a few). It turns out, Getty Images has also been paying careful attention to the ways in which financial institutions are using imagery meant to convey concepts of trust, confidence and value to reposition themselves in the market.

Since the beginning of the global financial crisis in 2008, Getty has tracked the changes in imagery used in financial services marketing. In a recent issue of their online trend magazine, Curve, Getty examined the visual trends used in the advertising campaigns, films, websites, and even social media channels of some of the biggest players in the industry. Check out their highlights video here.

The issue points to some interesting trends. While none of them are surprising in and of themselves, they do underscore the challenge that financial services brands face in translating their often abstract products and services into compelling and emotionally engaging stories. What’s clear from Getty’s trending analysis is that out of the turmoil and recovery has come a deep desire for authenticity and an appetite for stories of real people doing amazing things.

For example, as small business customers have become a more important market for financial services firms, the way in which small business owners are portrayed in marketing communications has evolved – from rather bland, average, almost journalist-looking to highly stylized, sophisticated and more romantic, evocative of the ‘good life’ of the small business owner. This new imagery style is meant to convey a sense of inspiration and empowerment, an aspirational yet authentic snapshot of the small business owner that is meant to resonate with the new customer ethos and separate financial brands from the tarnished traditional images of Wall Street.