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Copying another business or brand – is it ever OK?

When building a brand, is it ever OK to copy another business’s product names or taglines? One marketer says no, and she’s sick of seeing it happen so frequently.

Today I feel like ranting. Don’t worry though, because I’ve been told my ranting is quite soft. Let’s see, shall we?

I am so over people copying each other’s stuff. I don’t understand why so many people are stealing each others product names, business names, even taglines. I’ve experienced this in my own business recently. Copying a word is one thing, but a whole combination of words?

The sad thing is that even some marketers advise their clients to copy other people. But there’s a big difference between modelling and copying.

Yes, it is important to research and see what competitors are doing, but it does not mean copying or stealing names, images or even a combination of words. Businesses do not need to copy and steal ideas to make it. In fact, if they want to make it long term and grow a sustainable business, they need to look elsewhere for true inspiration.

I recently did an interview with Tania Usher, founder of DARE magazine and one of the questions I asked her was about her branding. With DARE, Tania has managed to create a very powerful and unique brand very rapidly and I was curious about her take on creating a business brand. Tania shared three important key ideas: Give your brand a personality, don’t copy others and don’t ask for opinions.

You can listen to the whole interview here.

I absolutely agree with all of these key points. I remember when we started our own business, my mentor at the time told me I needed a different business name, something more along the lines of ‘your marketing mentor, small business marketing guru etc’, I cringed at the thought of calling my business something every second marketing business is called and stuck to our business name ‘Basic Bananas’.

It had personality, felt right and I knew it would be successful or at least I pretended to know. Luckily I was right and my mentor is now glad I didn’t listen. Rather than copying someone else, think about how you can make it even better and more congruent with your business.

I agree that to build a successful brand, you need to listen within and find the answers within rather than trying to copy someone else. So many people are trying to make money by selling something they don’t really believe in and building a brand they don’t connect with only because someone else told them – and this isn’t a very sustainable way of doing business.

End of rant!

I would love to hear your comments on this issue.

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