Pablo Picasso is often credited with the saying: “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” This quote isn’t just relative to art, but to all practices that demand creativity. In this blog, we’ll explain how it applies to branding for businesses. Where do you cross the line of Branding Inspiration vs Imitation?
Finding branding inspiration from other brands
The greatest artists, entrepreneurs, and marketers find inspiration in their competitors. Not only do they enjoy rising to challenges, but they also like to learn from others.
It’s not hard to find influential brands that have inspired thousands of businesses. Many companies today study Apple’s branding efforts, which have created levels of customer loyalty never seen before. Likewise, some businesses are now copying Coca-Cola’s selling of a happy experience as opposed to a sugary soft drink.
The point is, you’re foolish not to follow other brands, particularly the ones in your industry. There’s a lot you can learn from their branding efforts, both the good and the bad. In some cases, you’ll even want to emulate an element of their campaign.
Knowing where to draw the line
Picasso left one crucial aspect out of his quote — that great artists never get caught. In other words, they’re good at finding inspiration and using it to improve their work, rather than actually stealing concrete ideas.
There’s nothing wrong with studying your competitors, but you’d be misplaced to copy their logo, slogan, or content. They’ll notice it, other businesses will notice it, and your customers might even notice it. In the end, it does way more harm than good.
Find your voice
Two ways to keep your brand honest are to find your voice and design your logo independently. The first one is incredibly important and requires reflection, introspection, and forward thinking.
A recent Business 2 Community article explains how businesses can establish their brands. According to the article, you have to consider what values you stand for and what value you’ll offer your customers:
“Regardless of what you are striving for, your brand is going to either positively or negatively affect the outcome. You need to determine what attributes will help you reach your goal. Think about what you stand for, your values, and the value you provide others. From there, you can start the process of crafting a clear brand message.”
Here’s where you can use the inspiration from other brands. Consider what they’re selling, who they’re selling it to, and how they deliver their message. Note how most of them are selling experiences, rather than products.
Design your logo
Designing your logo is less abstract than finding your voice, but it still requires a lot of creativity. After all, this is an important determinant in how consumers will perceive your brand. You have to be 100% confident of your logo before you make it public.
For that reason, you should design your logo early on in your branding efforts. According to a recent Huffington Post article, this is your first and best chance to get your audience’s attention and win them over:
“Your first step in branding, and indeed marketing your business is to create a logo. This is where you have the first opportunity to captivate the minds of your audience and quickly win your way into their hearts. A good looking logo that is able to captivate your audience will earn the trust of your customers better.”
Now, this is where you have to be really careful when it comes to using your inspiration. It’s easy for competitors to see when you copy their logo, and they won’t likely let it slide. Again, it’s good to see what they’re up to, but it’s unwise to step on anyone’s toes in this respect.
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