Battling the Pinterest Pandemic in Branding

April 29, 2015

Last week, I briefly touched on today’s topic in my branding pitfalls post, but I felt this discussion warranted a little more than a brief paragraph tucked away within another blogpost. Since its inception, Pinterest has been such a great tool for gathering project inspiration, discovering new recipes, or deciding what to wear on Friday date night. But it’s also become a deceptively easy way to compare your work, your success and even your visual brand to that of someone else. Every brand designer, regardless of their skill level or clientele, will tell you that at one point or another a client has come to them with a Pinterest board filled with other business logos and brand boards, telling them to make their brand look just like everyone else’s.

And that really stinks, y’all. It’s tough from a designer’s perspective because we know that whoever created that logo or brand board put so much time, effort and creativity into that project. By copying their work, we’re not only damaging our credibility as designers, but we’re also stealing some of the uniqueness and some of that sparkle from the original designer. We also know that it’s never the best route for our clients, as it robs them of the opportunity to have a visual brand that is as unique and beautiful as they are! Instead of allowing us the opportunity to create something truly one-of-a-kind that reflects their heart and soul, so many just want a brand that fits into the popular page on Pinterest.

Battling the Pinterest Pandemic in Branding via b is for bonnie design

Now don’t get me wrong. I think Pinterest is an incredible tool for gathering inspiration. I have all my branding clients assemble inspiration and ideas for their new brands within secret pin boards, but it’s made clear from the start that we’re looking for so much more than just other logos that we want to emulate. I encourage my clients to pin images that reflect the aesthetic and emotion of their new brand, color palettes that speak to them, design elements that resonate with them, and more. The occasional logo or brand board sneaks in, but we use that as a spring board onto something totally tailored to my branding client. Because I value their businesses too much to give them a cookie cutter visual brand that looks just like a carbon copy.

Pinterest is an awesome tool, friends. But with such a wealth of visual content assembled in one place, it can be all too easy to fall in love with the brand someone else worked hard to create. It’s tough to remind ourselves that what works beautifully for one person, may not necessarily be the right fit for us in the long run. We have to trust in the fact that the visual brand that’s born from within, that listens to our core and is an authentic reflection of the heartbeat of our best work, won’t be found in another business’s brand board. Your authentic visual brand will be something made specially for you, whether you’re creating it yourself or you’re working with a professional designer. And that’s something worth working towards!

In her book Yes Please, Amy Poehler perfectly quips a mantra that we all could take to heart. “Good for her! Not for me.” Rest assured that your best brand won’t be found on Pinterest’s popular page, and it will be worth the amount of introspection, heart and creativity you pour into it. Pin away to your heart’s content, but please guard yourself against the ugly comparison game, or that creeping desire to change everything about your brand to fit into a mold made for somebody else. Your work, your talent and your creativity are too rare to fall prey to the Pinterest Pandemic, friend! And that journey will be worth the work.

  1. Jordana

    April 29th, 2015 at 11:24 am

    So well written, Bonnie. I scroll through my Instagram feed and most photos look like they could be connected to any number of companies. If I don’t look at the name on the account, I can’t tell who the imagery belongs to. That’s not a brand. It’s a lot of “me too’s.” It’s sad that in this highly visual era we are losing individuality.

  2. Bonnie Bakhtiari

    April 30th, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Thanks for your kind words, Jordana! I know what you mean about many images looking the same these days. It’s such a beautiful thing when people embrace their originality and creativity, though!

  3. weekend reading | 05.01.15 - Kory Woodard

    May 1st, 2015 at 7:02 am

    […] shared her thoughts on battling the Pinterest pandemic, and I’m totally on the same page with her. Pinterest can be really great for inspiration, […]

  4. Georgeanne

    May 3rd, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    This post resonated with me. I think sometimes the reason branding looks similar online is because aesthetics become popular–not necessarily trendy, but popular–as certain brands become successful.

    I notice that all of a sudden, a blog or brand that’s had a lot of success suddenly has a lot of.. well, I hesitate to say copy-cats, but a lot of similar looking logos/branding elements floating about online.

    I think sometimes we gravitate to design elements or color palettes or other branding elements because we know they’ve been successful for others. And sometimes, we emotionally confuse that with things that really “emotionally resonate” with us!

    Does that make sense? I feel like maybe I’m thinking too much into it!

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I'm Bonnie -- a designer, brand designer + strategist, writer, wife, and pet parent to the most rambunctious golden retriever this side of the Mason-Dixon! I'm passionate about building authentic brands, encouraging small business owners to chase their dreams, and spreading joy through design. It's a delight to have you here, lovely! Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a comfy chair and stay a while, won't you?

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