Not sure what watermarking is or know how it could benefit you or your business? Read on to get a comprehensive lowdown on everything you need to know about watermarks and why you should use them.
If you’re a photographer or a consistent digital content-maker, the question of watermarking your work has likely come up. But while you’ve heard that watermarks are a sure way to let the world know certain assets are yours, you may still be hazy on the what, how, other purposes, and best practices around this process.
So, to help you make an informed decision on whether to watermark your work or not, we’ve decided to do a deep dive into everything you ever wanted – and needed – to know about watermarking.
Let’s get started!
What is a Watermark?
A watermark is a type of graphic overlaid onto an image. It’s typically transparent or monochromatic so that viewers can still see the details of the asset under the imprint.
Today, watermarks tend to be found on photos, illustrations, and other digital art, but you’ll also see them on stamps and legal docs like passports, and banknotes where they’re used to prevent counterfeiting.
In a pre-digital world, the source of an image was stamped onto the back of that image. Some print stamps were even embossed so that the photo would be slightly raised on the other side disabling its use.
Nowadays, of course, few photos are printed first as practically everything is uploaded online for the digitally savvy market.
But this in itself causes problems – which brings us to the next question: why use watermarks?
Why Use Watermarks on Your Work?
The main reason for watermarking your work is to assert copyright protection. Online content is constantly being poached or plagiarized. With 4.48 billion people actively using social media alone the need for new and novel visual content is higher than ever …and some feel it’s AOK to swipe someone else’s content to keep up with output.
But if you’ve labored over a creative piece of content, you wouldn’t want another to claim ownership or even just to use it without your consent, right?
That’s where watermarks come in.
A watermark with your name or logo embedded in it signifies you as the author or creator. If you’ve created the content for sale, a more obvious watermark in the center or over the entire image can prohibit unauthorized use completely.
In fact, if your business is photography or the creation of other visual art or content, watermarked work can help potential customers recognize your brand. The consistent use of the same logo or your signature on every piece of work you create will not only improve brand awareness but also help folk find you easily in the crowded online world.
Protection Against Misuse
It’s not just that someone else might profit from your photos (though, who wants that!) The issue is also that your images and content may be misused. Every day people share, copy, cut, and paste others’ content as standard practice, often not realizing that what they’re doing is unethical if not illegal.
But be warned – even if they do, the laws governing copyright and fair use provisions can be a little unclear. This means that if your artwork suddenly ends up as a backdrop in a YouTube cat video, it can still be difficult to prove misuse or even that the content is yours – especially if there are no signifiers on the work in question to back you up.
Further Uses of Watermarks
Watermarks can be used on all types of digital content. Across the Internet, you’ll see a variety of different overlays on photos, illustrations, and digital paintings and drawings signifying authorship and protecting against unauthorized usage.
Adding Dates and Details
But watermarking is also often used to add details or descriptions to an image. For example, a photo of a historical event may have the date imprinted on it or a very short summary of what the viewer can see.
World-renowned media organizations and businesses do this to such an extent that the details are now part of their brand. Think of the bottom black bar of an image released by National Geographic or the descriptions on property photos from realtor company RE/MAX. Both these organizations use watermarking to offer additional information to their content viewers in a way that promotes brand awareness but remains professional-looking and unobtrusive.
Adding details to images is something that many like to do with their personal pics too. It’s a great way to remind yourself of the places and people that have brought color to your life.
For example, how many times have you come across digital photos of past events or holidays, and tried to recall where the photo was snapped or the name of the guy on the left who told those great stories and fell into the pool that time?! Watermarking helps you relive happy memories without having to wrack your brain for the little details!
Further fun use of watermarking is the ability to create memes. The internet today is choc-full of comical captions and quotes emblazoned across pics of adorable babies, cute pets, and pop culture moments.
If you’re yearning to create a meme of your own you can do so using our watermarking tool – and add a watermark of your own name alongside it too!
Watermark Best Practices
Aside from memes and personal captions on pictures, if you’re using watermarks in a more professional capacity it is important to follow best practices to ensure their effectiveness.
For starters, size does matter. Sure, you want your watermark to be legible but you don’t want it to be the first or only thing a viewer sees.
On the flip side, you don’t want it to be so small either that it defeats the whole purpose of being a watermark! A minuscule symbol in the bottom corner of your asset can be easily edited or cropped.
Watermarks used directly on an image tend to be white or grey and somewhere between 30-70% transparent. This means that even if it covers a significant part of your picture, viewers will still be able to see the image below.
A colorful watermark will not only arrest the attention of the viewer but may mess with the content of your image too, particularly if you’re already using a lot of colors in the original photo or artwork. And c’mon, why spend so much time and energy creating a piece of content, only to dilute or disfigure it through your watermark?
So, when considering size and color, think of an overlay that does not detract from the image you’re promoting but at the same time acknowledges you as the owner and asserts the content as copyrighted. The (usually) right-sided, translucent grey bar with text that Getty Images use is a good example of an obvious yet unobtrusive watermark.
One of the wonderful things about creating your very own watermark is that you have endless options to choose from. It’s completely your design. So, don’t create a watermark off the cuff. Instead, put some serious thought into creating a specialized watermark that’ll work for you or your business.
Will you use your logo and if so, is it discreet enough that it won’t encroach on all of the diverse images you’ll need to watermark over the days, months, and even years?
Perhaps you want to use your signature. Many artists do this when uploading images of their artwork online.
Or you may prefer to use a symbol that signifies you or your business. Whatever, watermark you do opt for, just think of the long game and how this watermark will appear on your assets, and work as an effective tool for you.
Adding a Watermark
Adding a watermark to your photos or content is super-easy when you use watermarquee. Our aim is to help you create the watermark that you want and need within minutes. Because the truth is, watermarks are a necessary tool to use in a world gone digital, but they don’t have to add to your workload or disrupt what you do. Instead, a good watermark, easily created, should protect your work, boost your brand and help you to continue business as usual.