Friday, December 7, 2012

Copying VS. Inspired: Creating a Brand Identity

The world is full of inspiration, its what helps us stay creative and come up with new ideas.

When making items for your shop or coming up with a brand identity for your business or blog its important to really know where the fine line between "inspiration" and "copying" come into play.

Being a graphic designer I see it from every angle. As a designer I see my work being copied and it really breaks me heart. 9 times out of 10 the person copying me really didn't mean no harm and just thought they were being "inspired" by me, when I of course make note of how they point blank stole my artwork they then see where I am coming from and most often are very willing to take down the art in question. It's usually followed up with an apology from them and then we go hold hands and frolic in some meadow somewhere. It's kinda magical.

I also see "copying" on the other side of things too, when dealing with a client I'll sometimes get someone send me another person's logo or design work followed by "I want my logo to look JUST like this"
Unfortunately I can not make your logo look JUST like that. It's not fair to the artist who created it and its not fair to the current owner of that logo whose shop is being identified with it. I can be inspired by it, but I can never ever point blank duplicate it.

Some people have a hard time understanding this, and I can see why. You see your friend wearing a super cute gray sweater with orange heart patches on the elbows, you ask her where she got it, then you go to the store and get the same exact sweater.

But designing a brand identity for yourself (or coming up with products for your shop) is a lot different than just buying the same mass produced sweater that your friend has.

The items in your shop or the logo for your blog is your finger print. It is is unique to you. When you go and copy piece by piece another artist's creation you are hurting both people, yourself and them. You are taking someone else's hard work, someone else's design and just "recycling" it for yourself.
When this person finds out they will be hurt, mad and confused. You should never ever steal another artist's ideas, the reason why we are all doing what we do isn't JUST for "The money", its also to let our customers and friends see a little peek of what makes us different, what makes us stand out from the rest.

I designed this logo for Jessica N Designs recently. I want to show you the difference between being "inspired' by her logo and "copying" her logo (by the way, these examples are designed by me, they were not found on cyber web land :) )

See how for inspiration logo for "Leonora Lee Photography and Design" I used some of the flower elements and the script font concept for the tag line? Yet you see these 2 logos and they still look different. Jessica N Designs and Leonora Lee Photography have their own brand identity and their own "fingerprint". Simply changing some colors around and changing a font doesn't get you off the "copying" hook, you are still stealing the artist's concept and design integrity.

This concept also carries over for when you design items for your shop. There is nothing wrong with being inspired, just don't ever ever copy. You wouldn't like it if it was done to you, right?

Basically, when coming up with a brand identity for your shop, make sure to make it unique to you.


  1. Great Post!! It's frustrating to design something for your shop and then someone else designs the same exact thing or something similar and sells it at a much cheaper price.

  2. HA. I wish I could include my side by sides for your examples.

    1. I've done that a few times on my blog and not mentioned names but people have actually gotten mad at ME. They think that once you put your ideas and images out there that they are free game. It's a crazy world!

  3. Preach it sista! I actually took all my cards out of my shop for a while because I just can't handle the copying. People are even selling my designs in stores. Really breaks my heart. And then they have the nerve to claim they are "creative"! What?!

  4. Preach it sista! I actually took all my cards out of my shop for a while because I just can't handle the copying. People are even selling my designs in stores. Really breaks my heart. And then they have the nerve to claim they are "creative"! What?!

  5. This is a fantastic post! You could not have made it more clear for those ridiculous people that think stealing is ok! I still don't get how anyone could feel good about what they do when they steal others' work. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I were to do that!

  6. Awesome post. In my day job I teach writing. copy vs inspire reminds me of the paraphrase vs plagiarize lecture!

  7. Very nice blog. Webdesign is important one for increase your business by online. You increase your business by online when you have people liked website content. You will get that when you choose right website design professional.
    Graphic designing

  8. Very useful blog post. Thanks for sharing this information.

  9. The difference between copying and inspiration for creating a brand identity in terms of logo, graphics etc. is just like a piece of mango and big lemon lying on the same table. You have to pick the best out of them. Taking inspiration from others is not a bad idea but just copying them madly will hurt the originator’s feelings as well your oringality. Recently, I had a visit to a famous Philadelphia branding company and the people working there were very innovate in creating an original brand identity for business firms.

  10. Very interesting stuff. I found another good take on this at strat-talking


We heart comments! Come on, make us smile :)

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.