Brands And The Temptation To Copy What Works

Thomson DawsonMay 29, 20123 min

Developing a new or refreshed corporate or brand identity is often a response to change. Many factors will drive that change – new management, mergers, acquisitions, product development, or a competitor’s threat to a core business.

Most change within organizations (or individuals for that matter) is usually driven by external influences (fear) and rarely is initiated through forethought (innovation).

Seemingly in every industry category, offerings are increasingly becoming commodities and perceived by customers as less differentiated and less valuable. Naturally it’s tempting to respond to this by changing something. It’s only logical to assume that maybe you can duplicate success by copying the attributes, features or capabilities of what is working for others. The sobering truth is this tactic will not sustain real growth, nor add more value to customers; it only increases the sameness and adds to the clutter.

We Adapt By Copying Others.

Social observer and author, Mark Earls demonstrates the simple fact that humans have largely evolved by copying others. For thousands of years, humans have adapted through a “do what works” mentality. In fact, Earls points out “copying is our species’ number one learning and adaptive strategy.” The temptation to copy other’s success is, well — tempting. Here’s why:

It’s Easier And Less Risky To Copy What Works Than To Create More Value.

Humans have naturally sought the safety and security of the known, and avoided the risk of the unknown. When it comes to building an identity, product development, and marketing, the majority of change today is really just copied from what came before, or from what’s currently influencing the behaviors of the status quo. The pressure to sell more stuff seems to trump creating more value through serving people better.

As a result, products have more features on features, there are more flashy logos, more marketing.  Seemingly, the more that changes, or gets copied, the more organizations and brands become the same – the result is more commodization with eroded brand equity.

Your Identity In The Marketplace Must Stand For Something.

I’ve said this before; your business must matter to people, but not to everybody. There is no competitive advantage in doing what others do, or have done before. The idea that your business or brand identity promises a “total solution” is just another way of saying it doesn’t stand for anything.

If Your Brand Is Number Three Or Four Among Competitors, Don’t Confuse Copying Success With Value Creation.

The key to creating compelling value in the marketplace is to focus brand building strategy on serving the needs and desires of only those who value what you provide, love to engage with it, and in doing so, share it’s value with others. As the tribe of believers grows from the influence of others, so does the power of your brand’s identity and value. Copy that and you can change the world.

The Blake Project Can HelpThe Brand Positioning Workshop and The New Product Co-Creation Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education

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