For anyone who spends any time on the interwebs, memes have become a way of life. From Grumpy Cat, to George RR Martin's Game of Thrones, to The Walking Dead, and so many more, there is an image out there with text on it just for you! Feel free to create them, share them, personalize them, promote them.
For those of us in the business world, though, the story changes. Copyright infringement laws and trademarks kick in - even if you are the one who created the image. This is especially true if you look to gain any monetary value off of some other company's well-known product. Since they still own any likeness, who can blame them? They have worked hard to get every drop of market worth from their actor, undead being, or other notable entity. We could get into a bunch of lawyer-speak, but the long and short of it: Do not test the waters of someone's owned property unless otherwise given the ok to do so.
Finding a Solution
So, how do we as businesses jump on this explosive bandwagon? Royalty-free images are the answer. Some are free, others you have to purchase, but there are plenty of grumpy-looking cats out there, crazy squirrels eating nuts, and rabbits that seem to have partaken of entirely way too much coffee. Perhaps we have to do a little more work to establish what others may have already done with a known entity, but that is part of the fun in finding out what does and does not work with inbound marketing. Places I like to look for images include: morgueFile, WikiMedia Commons, and for that special photo you just must have, iStockPhoto. Feel free to go to your favorite search engine and type in "royalty free images for commercial use" to find your own favorite image site. Please be sure to review each site's Image License Agreement (or per image in some cases). Some may require creator attribution; others make it free and clear as long as you are not using it for an unlawful or distasteful purpose.
People want to see graphics. After all, as the adage goes, pictures are worth a thousand words. It has been proven time and time again, through surveys and analytical research, that graphical posts far outperform plain text posts of equal content. Do yourself a favor: think outside the box and get creative. Even if you think your product is lackluster at best, creating a memorable niche for your product with something people can relate with will only give you a leg-up on your competition.