By Rebecca Swift, Director of Creative Planning at iStock by Getty Images

If an image is worth a thousand words, small business owners and managers shouldn’t overlook the importance of carefully considering which images they use to represent their company – whether on their websites, in email blasts or across store signage. As fashion and design trends change, imagery trends do too.

With millions of images available for license, it can be a daunting task to identify ones that fit both the zeitgeist of the moment and still tell a unique story. To help guide your decisions, here’s my list of the top eight trends dominating visual communication in business today:

  1. Transparency and Openness: Company values are an important consideration when building a visual brand for your business. The images our customers search for have changed as prevailing values have changed. Transparency and openness are highly regarded in business, across all industries, being represented via meetings and people at desks shot from an observational viewpoint, through glass doors and windows.
  2. Show Me Innovation: As the services and expertise that businesses offer evolve, the language that is used to search for imagery online is changing too. The keywords our customers are using when searching for imagery represent trickier concepts to visualize: inspiration, planning, creativity, innovation and ideas.
  3. The New Leader: The vision of the business leader is changing. The experienced trustworthy executive portrait is an old favorite, but the new executive is more creative – less power suits, more individual styling.
  4. Service-Oriented Workforce: As more small businesses are building visual brands online, we find our customers are searching for more creative and service-oriented images. Advisors, experts, curators and editors are being depicted more often than before.
  5. Dads on Deck: Today, mothers and fathers share work and childcare responsibilities. Single male parents and gay couples are a core market versus a niche one, and hands-on dads are appearing in campaigns for a range of industries.
  6. Women in Power: In the same measure, women are business leaders and mentors. Power is depicted through qualities of collaboration, co-operation and generosity.
  7. Hipsters are Taking Over: Hipsters continue to inspire trends that are making their way into popular culture. Beards, bikes, monochrome clothing, wooden desks and real coffee are touchstones of the creative business.
  8. Work from Home: Small business owners have done this for years, and today business is just as likely to be conducted from the home or in a small rented office space. Therefore the look and feel of the office is broadening.

Once you select your images, it’s important to keep your visuals fresh. According to a study by SiteKreator, 75% of small business owners update their website only once a month–or less. The same study also found businesses that updated their website regularly (upwards of five times a month) saw traffic increases up to 300%. A common misconception is that updates require a big time and monetary investment. Rotating or adding visuals using an image subscription plan, videos or short posts can make all the difference.

Rebecca Swift is the director of creative planning at iStock by Getty Images.