Don’t be a *flippin* copycat

By October 16, 2012Branding, Design & Your Site
Grodon Ramsey

A standard has emerged with the popularization of online courses like Marie Forleo’s B-School (I went through it in 2011), that has had a side-effect many of you have probably seen: people’s sites start to look alike.

This is normal. People with a low budget and lack of design background look for the easiest way to start a site, which is to buy a WordPress theme and copy what works.

It makes sense, but it’s not a long term brand solution and one that will cause major headaches down the line.

Short term impact is that you look like a copycat to others – and no one wants to be laughed at. You also feel like a bit of a confused liar. You didn’t do it intentionally, but you also didn’t put in the time and work to get your own brand down, so you know you’re selling yourself short by taking poor shortcuts.

And long term you really don’t know how to keep up a successful brand because your brand is a copy of someone else’s. So next steps are not obvious. I see this again and again.

So what are you doing?

When you copy someone else, your true brand identity never emerges; you continue to waffle trying to figure out how to say what to your prospective clients and how to put together that one-sheet.

When I started out on my own, my original design was very much influenced by the design firms of the time. My site was clean, neat-edged, full of gradients and moving things. But it wasn’t ME.

How did I know this?

It wasn’t bringing in the type of client I wanted to be working with, and it didn’t feel good when I looked at it. Something was off.

1. Do you feel good when you look at your site?

2. Is there a nagging voice that says: “Is that really you?”

3. Are you getting the type of client you want? Or is it more about getting any client at all?

You know what I’m going to say.

You’ve got to discover your own voice.

You’ve got to stop the mad-dashing and piecemealing your site and branding materials and instead do the work that will allow you to discover your own voice, your own art and your own approach.

That voice may be funny. Or not.

It may be candid. Or not.

It may be friendly. Or not.

And I’ll tell you, I’ve seen many a brand do really really well without trying to be the neighborhood sweetheart.

Ever heard of Gordon Ramsay? He’s extremely successful and good at what he does, and he’s not in the business of being a sweet heart to those he works with (although my sources say he’s quite sweet to friends.)

His brand is consistent: he takes no $hit from anyone, demands excellence and fills restaurants consistently.

But how do I find my brand voice?

I am working on a free home-study course to help you begin to get clear on your own voice, and if you have any specific questions, as they relate to your brand, your site design, etc., pop your question in below, and I’ll incorporate it in.

I’d love to see your big idea thrive, but we’ve gotta get you out of the copycap zone and into your own. It works a whole lot better!

You are loved.

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