No one likes a copycat. It’s just not cool. Not to mention that copyright infringement is illegal. However, sometimes the most well-meaning people unintentionally blur the lines of copyright violation. Even if you’re just looking for inspiration and do not use another artist’s images directly, you could be at risk for infringement if your photos/logo look similar enough. But how do you find branding inspiration without stepping on toes? Learn how here!
Due the subjective nature of creative design, those at higher risk for being sued for copyright infringement include:
- Web designers/developers
- Graphic artists
- Business owners
- Website & blog owners
What Counts as Copyright Infringement?
Obviously, if the image is copied directly, that’s copyright infringement. However, you could potentially be at risk if a “reasonable observer” can deem your creation, design, or photo “substantially similar.” Long story short, the rules of copyright infringement are far from black and white, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
So, here’s how you can find inspiration to create your own unique branding design without imitating others:
1. Determine what aspects you like about another design.
Instead of copying the design or content directly, look to the overall appeal that you’d like to achieve. Use the inspiring work as brainstorming fodder. For instance, you might use it to help you flesh our overall goals, direction, and vision for your own brand.
Some questions you might ask are:
- What do I like about the aesthetic?
- What do I admire about the overall feel/vibe?
- How could I incorporate what I like most while tweaking it to make it my own?
2. Stay focused on your brand.
Instead of lusting over another brand or artist’s brilliant design, take note of the good parts, but stay focused on your own unique brand. Start with your branding vision, and create from there.
- What makes my brand different?
- What are my brand’s core values and personality?
- How can I use design to authentically reflect our brand?
- If my brand was a font, what would it be, and why?
- If my brand was a color (or color palette), what would it be and why?
3. Pick one or two things to emulate, and change the others.
For example, maybe you found a font combination you love. Great! Use a similar combo, but incorporate a different color palette and layout. On the other hand, maybe you love their brand colors. You can draw on those while incorporating a different style for your images. Find your inspiration – then change it up!
4. Create a mood board for branding inspiration.
Instead of focusing on one single brand or design, look at several. It’s harder to copy someone’s idea when you pull from diverse sources. Check out my post on how to create a mood board here. Consolidate your favorite pieces from each to craft a design that’s all your own.
5. Draw from free or shared templates that are approved for general use.
If you don’t want to start from scratch and need a bit more help, try a template! Instead of going off of existing published or copyrighted work (which may get you in trouble), utilize free and readily available resources so you have tangible (and legal) templates to use.
Try one of these to get started:
6. Ask a professional for help.
As an experienced branding photographer, my craft involves putting together innovative and creative designs. Let’s partner up! Share your mood board or send over some of your favorite pieces of inspiration, and I can help design a collection of branding images that are distinctly you! I’d love to provide you with images you can proudly and confidently display on your website, social media, and marketing material. Check out my portfolio, and connect with me today to get started.
Lindsay is a Los Angeles-based food, product, and commercial photographer. She specializes in Still Product & Food Photography, Lifestyle & Portrait Photography, Stop Motion, and Food Styling. Connect with her HERE for product marketing!