There is a HUGE problem in our industry that no one will talk about directly but I will because it breaks my heart to watch.
Especially design. Good design is rare in the business development industry and exceptional design is even harder to find. It makes me sad to know that when a industry leader invests in a beautiful design, they can expect to be copied by everyone else.
It is natural to look to leaders in your industry as an example of what your brand should look and feel like. In fact, it is a part of the process of creating a grown up brand. When I first learned how to design, I did a lot of copying. I didn’t know what else to do. I had no examples and I didn’t know where to start.
But here is the deal: if you steal another brand’s colors, design or aesthetics, you will never ever rise to the level of that brand.
In fact, you will NEVER be seen as a peer.
While you think no one notices that you have THE SAME colors, design elements and layout of a site everyone knows, we TOTALLY do. I repeat: EVERYONE KNOWS IT.
And it’s bad karma, baby. Your brand deserves more than that. YOU deserve more than to be the shadow of another brand.
Challenge yourself. Challenge your designer to get it right.
Branding is not easy. It takes a LONG time to get right. Those redesigns you see? They can take MONTHS. I am working on a site redesign that is taking me FOREVER. It is supposed to take forever. Your brand is important. And you have to make sure you have the clarity to do it. It is so easy to look at a site (even mine) and want it but KNOW that it takes people a while to get there. Most sites who get these redesigns aren’t even READY for a new site.
Another thing you HAVE to realize: a website isn’t a brand. A website is an illustration of a brand’s values, beliefs and target market. You can’t just grab a piece of it and go. We think of a website as the beginning and the end of a business. You can have an unforgettable website without fancy branding and you can have a forgettable business even with a slick site.
Especially if the site isn’t you. Especially if your brand isn’t ready for it. Have you ever been to a site that looked good but you couldn’t connect with it at all? Or maybe you didn’t even care?
It’s like listening to a song and having a random song start playing in the middle. It’s just awkward.
Take the time to educate yourself about what design is, what branding means and KNOW what you want.
My goal for this post is to give you other options. DESIGN is amazing. There are so many colors, textures, layouts and website models you can explore and learn from. There is SO much out there. Let’s not limit ourselves to the same sites over and over again. I created a list of sites and resources that are my go-to places for design inspiration. Keep in mind, these sites are all created by professionals who have THE SAME goals you have for your own brand. They want to represent the brand’s purpose in the best way possible. I have also included some of my favorite places to go for typography inspiration and art too.
When you go to these sites, keep these questions in mind:
What vibe am I REALLY resonating with?
What color schemes do I like?
What design elements do I really dig?
How do they add freshness to typical design elements (opt-in forms, contact forms, blogs)?
What do I REALLY like about this?
The super list:
I want to leave you with one more thing:
Ask yourself this: If you really want the same success of your idols, do you really think you can do that when you steal their stuff? Imagine it would be like to position yourself alongside someone like Marie or Danielle as a peer and not an imitation. Think about being respected for your unique (and awesome) contribution. Imagine being seen as an equal. Aspire to have more and do greater.
If you want some in-depth help on this, check out my new offering. I work with my clients 1-on-1 to figure out their web layouts and other essential brand elements. No copying allowed 🙂
How do you feel about this? As someone who isn’t a designer, do you find it difficult to tell your designer what you want without copying? I am working on something now that will help non-designer develop a brand point-of-view 🙂