"I want to be original," says the young startup founder. Well, I've got news for ya pal, you never will be and you will kill yourself trying to go down that road.
Everything is a derivative of something else. There is no new idea under the sun. Now, you can see this as negative or you can realize the opportunity you have to explore and put your spin on something already successful. The best creative work I come across is stolen. Meaning, the people that made it did not come up with the idea on their own, but they put it into a new context.
I'll give you an example, my friend Luis rebranded an agency a while ago. This agency's office overlooks a harbor in San Diego. So, he took the brand down a nautical path and turned them into a rebellious rouse of scallywags. They changed their name from Digital Style to VSSL, shifted all of their lingo to mirror a gang of pirates, and even named the rooms in their space after the places on a ship (the brig, the gulley, even the poop deck).
Here's the thing, Luis found every single element that went into that brand, he didn't conjure it out of thin air. The logo, the name, the language, the visuals, even the culture of the company is rooted in life at sea.
Find something inspirational and different, then steal it.
I take criticism very seriously. It's not that I get offended or that I curl up into a ball and cry, but I always think about it deeply. Mostly, because improving on myself and expanding my capabilities is of the utmost importance to me.
Yesterday, my punch talked about a digital marketer who had expressed concerns regarding my website building capabilities around an SEO focused, digital strategy. From my standpoint, it sounded like he inferring I had no idea what SEO was and that it was impossible for me to learn more about it. This is the kinda shit I think deeply about. SEO is important to the web design process, so when someone tells me I'm not good at it, I think about it. Probably more than I should.
I was thinking about it all day. Am I really that lost on SEO? I thought I had a decent understanding of how it worked and how sites should be structured accordingly.
Last night, when I was at a UX event, I told some trusted colleagues what was concerning me (many of whom are in the digital marketing space). By putting these thoughts out there for other people to address, their gravitas was minimized. They didn't seem that bad anymore. Certainly not something to dwell on any longer.
Point being: find a tribe of good people who've got your back. Rebels are nothing without an alliance.
Most of the startup world is focused on getting bigger, expanding, scaling, and a long list of adjectives all pointing to gaining more.
Unfortunately, this mentality leaks into startup branding efforts as well.
Have more colors, have a bigger logo, more subbrands, more typefaces, more messages. More, more, more, more, more.
The issue with this mindset is that it is the complete opposite of scalable because you are reinventing the wheel every time you embark on a new branding effort.
Ask yourself, what is in the way of us getting our point across and connecting with our tribe? Then get rid of it and cut straight to their hearts.