Whichever industry you’re in, it’s hard not to look around to see what everyone else is doing.
As a designer who specializes in branding, sometimes it’s easy to look around at others in my industry and after their feeds or websites or whatever it is that they’re doing really well.
I catch myself considering how I can tweak my own brand to have a similar look and feel as someone else I admire or how to make my work appealing to their audience also.
The reason I love so many other styles and feeds is because they’re different than mine. My brand looks very different than other designers or even others who do branding. It’s like sometimes I feel like the odd one at the party and I wanna be a part of what everyone else is doing and having fun too.
But the truth is, in order to stand out, you shouldn’t be following others in your industry, you should be doing your own thing completely unattached from what everyone else is doing.
I read a book about this called Purple Cow by Seth Godin and he talks about how, in order to be the purple cow you need to come up with something that hasn't been done before or hasn't been executed in a certain way. You can't replicate it because it's original.
But in terms of design and branding, I’ve made a little list of ways you can stand out with your design for your brand, whether you be a designer, a social media strategist, or a photographer- there’s a lot of competition out there and in order to stand out and be seen we need to speak with our own voice, in our own way, and forge a new path in our industry. So let’s dive into 4 ways to be original in your design.
1. Use Original Photos
A lot of branding is about your images. And most of the time those images are photos. Now there a lot of great sites that have free photos and there’s a lot of sites that sell photos that are also wonderful.
But when you create your own photos, by either taking them yourself or working with a photographer one-on-one, you will have completely original shots that are tailored to you and your brand.
When you have photos done specifically for you and your brand it's called brand photography. Or stock photography. Or styled photography– you get the point.
There are a lot of photographers who offer this service, myself included, that can help take your biz up a notch where you can stand out from the crowd by using original photos.
Another thing that's pretty cool about brand photos is that no one else will have them. No one can go download the picture because it's yours alone. And I think that's a huge plus to standing out.
Nowadays so much emphasis is placed on appearance and presentation that it’s important to use that opportunity to put your best foot forward and use images that are completely original and unique to you.
If you’re not a photographer yourself, there are a lot of photographers who are willing to do trades, or even work out deals with you especially if the photographer is just starting out. It never hurts to talk with someone and see if something can be worked out if you're on a budget.
2. Design Differently
I was recently listening to a podcast where the guest (a calligrapher) was on the show and she was talking about how she was tired of doing wedding invitations that were blush and gold and, as a designer, I have to agree.
That’s the thing, when something is trendy, everyone is doing it. It’s popular and everyone wants in on the action.
Especially with design.
The problem is trends come and go and choosing to pick a trend that is for your brand (such as blush and gold) is dangerous because there is an expiration date on it, whenever the trend is over, you will need to rebrand because what you have may look dated.
Similarly there are a lot of calligraphy and handwritten logos trending right now. I hope that trend never goes away cause I love it, but the truth is that it’s a trend. And in a few years when the trend fades out you don’t want to pay the big bucks again for a new brand when you could have done something a bit more tailored to you and your style to begin with.
So when you get design done for your business, look for design that is different, design that stands out, not just design that follows the crowd.
And this could be website design, your logo design– or the entire brand design. It’s good to understand how important it is to be different in terms of design because different is what will stand out, good or bad, people will remember (hopefully not bad).
3. Choose a Distinct Color Palette
I recently talked in depth about how you can use color psychology to make informed decisions for your brand in this post, but beyond just the head knowledge, you need to create a brand that is representative of you and your voice.
Right now, a trend is using teal in your branding. I see SO many people using teal. It's not a bad thing, but it's not very unique. You want to think through colors that A) represent who you are and what you want to say and B) are more original than the status quo.
If you love the color purple and really want to use it (make sure you know who your audience is) but think through how you can incorporate that into your brand and design. Even if a color combination can seem “off the wall” or “over the top” go for it! Because that means you will stand out because you’re being yourself.
4. Look at Your Brand as a Whole
It’s important to not only look at the individual pieces that make up a brand: your logo, your color palette, your font choices, your mission, your goals, your website, your outfit, your stationary, your rubber stamp, etc. it’s important that you look at it as a whole and remember how you want to be perceived.
What are your main goals for your business in 5 or 10 years? How do you want to be remembered? It’s always good to take a step back and remind ourselves, in the midst of everything we have to do, that our mission is more important than our colors, and how we treat people is more important than how we present ourselves.
Every now and again, remember where the heart of your business is and think through how you can show that in your business today.
As I continue to develop into my own brand I’m reminded that no matter how I present myself, I want it to be with genuine kindness, respect and encouragement.
Then, no matter if I use some styled stock photos of my own or from another site, it’s OK because I’ve followed out my mission for my brand.
What’s your mission for your business?
Is it hard for you to stand out from others in your industry?
Which part of branding has you most tied up?