The Difference Between Inspiration and Copying: How to Make Designs Your Own

Alright, fur friends. Let’s be real. As small pet business owners, you’ve got a lot on your plate. From managing the day-to-day business operations, keeping your customers satisfied, and making sure you’re staying on top of your marketing, how much time is left over for the creative process?

“Business” and “Art” are two worlds that collide more often than you may think, and yes, you too can consider yourself an artist! When it comes to your product design, your online presence, and/or your branding, you are in the business of creating

Dox Design is in the business of creating, too, (obviously!), and one thing we, unfortunately, see a lot of in the industry is designers copying each other. Now, we’re not here to point any fingers! We know that everyone is familiar with the academic principle that plagiarism is a no-no, and we don’t believe people are sincerely trying to copy the work of others (at least not 95% of them!). 

It’s actually easier than you might think to fall into the trap of copying someone else’s work that you admire, rather than coming up with design and branding that is 100% unique to you and your business. The work of all artists, creators, and even business owners are inspired by the work of others. That’s not wrong – It’s just how it works! But the reality is that when you copy other business’ work, you end up hurting your business because every business has its own audience and presence. You wouldn’t be reaching the right people by using the work of someone else. It just doesn’t work.

As designers ourselves, we know how to apply inspiration and influence without copying and so we are here to share how to tell the difference and how to make designs your own:


Start by drawing inspiration from multiple sources

Okay, there’s always that one brand or influencer whose branding and designs you’re just obsessed with. They’re your business ideal, maybe even your idol. But here’s the thing: If you only immerse yourself in that person’s work, you’re more likely to end up inadvertently copying their designs. In fact, it’s natural! Think about what it’s like when you spend a lot of time with a close friend. You both start mirroring each other’s mannerisms and funny sayings, and you often find yourself copying each other’s style.

Instead, expose yourself to the styles of many friends! Or rather, different kinds of designs and brandings. You’ll get a wider variety of styles, angles, color palettes, and other ideas that way. By diversifying the pool of artists from which you draw inspiration, you have a much greater chance of ending up with original work of your own. From there, write out everything you see that you like. Describe it in detail. Learn about yourself by finding out what excites and inspires you.


Do some design soul-searching

So, you’ve done some browsing and hopefully found a ton of designers and business owners you admire. Now it’s time to sit down and ask yourself some deeper questions. It helps to actually sit down, take out a pen and paper, and brainstorm your answers:

  • Why do I love this work so much? Perhaps this question will lead to some self-discovery. For instance, you might say, “Hmm, maybe I love the fact that this design can appeal to so many different kinds of audiences.” From there, you might even ask yourself why that’s important to you, and how you can do the same, but differently.
  • What are my intentions? To answer this one, prepare to give yourself some tough love and honesty! When you see an idea that you like and want to make it your own, what do you intend to do with it? Do you want to modify it in some way and give due credit, or do you want to make it seem like you came up with it on your own? 
  • Are there any underlying insecurities that need to be addressed? This is a big one. Is it really a lack of time that gets in the way of your creative process, or is it fear and insecurity? Fear can either be a motivator or a roadblock. If you worry that you just can’t come up with something as good on your own, that’s going to get in the way of creating truly original work that is unique to your brand. 

Ultimately, the most important thing for pet business owners to remember is what got you here in the first place. Why is the work you do important, and why are you (not someone else) doing it?


Switch up your perspective

This is one of the biggest ways you can come up with truly original work. You can look at multiple influencers and creators within the industry, but you can also look at branding and designs outside the industry you’re in. Even the most traditional artists or writers do this: they’re inspired by music, nature, books, and human experiences, to name a few!

When you listen to a song you love, what feelings come up for you? What’s the vibe? There’s a reason why coffee shops, bookstores, and restaurants play a particular genre of music. What’s that business trying to evoke in their customers? What experience are they trying to create? 

When you go outside, what colors draw your eye? Take a look at different (physical) places of business and take note of their signage and branding. By taking your perspective outside of the online screen space, you’ll find even more ways to create a unique experience for your own audience. 

All right, fur friends, are you feeling empowered to create drool-worthy design that’s totally original to your brand? If the answer is yes, GOOD! That’s what Dox Design is all about: inspiring you to drop the competitor envy and get to work on your brand. 

P.S. One bonus tip to get you started on gathering inspiration. Pinterest!! If you haven’t used it yet, you reaaallllly need to. We use it every single day, even as designers.

Feel free to check out our Pinterest page as a great place to start because we love sharing our own work and the work that inspires us most.

Then, when you’re ready to elevate your brand (and your biz), hit us up for a free 20-minute brand audit to see what’s working, what’s not, and how we can come up with a design that resonates with your unique audience.

Ready To Command Your Brand?