Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery or so the saying goes. Which I guess when you think about it is kind of true because you are obviously doing something so well that others wish to jump onto that band wagon. Question is how do you deal with it, or do you even do anything about it? I’ve written today’s post in response to the many emails I get from businesses around the globe, more often than not start ups, who ‘ve come up with a fab idea only for others to leverage upon it and take part of the pie.

We have been copied a zillion times from product design to the design of our website, to my actual words and phrases believe it or not. If you had three hours I would tell you the most amazing tales which you wouldn’t actually believe but its Friday and whose got three hours.  Plus I shall leave that until my business book comes out!

I digress there are actually two types of copying.  There is the being inspired type of copying when you look at your competitions see what they are doing so well and leverage upon it. Which is less about copying per se and more about being inspired and improving what already exits. That is actually smart business, case in point Steve Jobs. Jobs didn’t invent anything he just made what existed way better. The reason I opened an interiors store in the first place was because I wasn’t blown away with what was out there I thought we could do better, push it further, so we did. I didn’t reinvent the wheel, I looked at what was out there thought I could do better and got on with doing that. That is actually what the business books call competitors, challenging the market share in an innovative fashion and successfully calving out their own successful biz!

Then there is the other type of copying, the silly copying where everything is a replica. Do you worry about it?  Nine times out of ten I am going to tell you not too.

Here is why.

Odd as that sounds think of it like this. Copycats are always playing catch up; they are static by nature they can’t move forward unless you move forward because they don’t have the ideas. Copiers have zero visibility into the workings of your company what you have up your sleeve, what you are about to do, or launch or collaborate with so you will always repeat always be ahead of the curve.

Rather than feeling down about it take it as an opportunity to keep your business on its toes, keep changing it, improving it and moving forward with it. We have. It’s made me sharper, its made us more focused get this it’s actually made us more money for all those reasons I have just listed above. Crazy hey, so it’s a good thing right!

Other things that might help

Give your brand a face it’s your biggest competition advantage

Consumers become a lot more connected to brands with a face behind them it’s as simple as that.  Let your brand tell a specific story give it it’s own unique DNA. It creates more engagement with your community. Once you humanize the brand and get followers they are less likely to jump ship to your competitors, and the great thing they will notify you about all the copiers out there!

Make a splash quickly

As copiers are not ideas people they are always playing catch up so rather than innovating and coming up lets say with their own lighting style they are busy copying. The fab thing here is they are always behind you. You’ve got the ideas so you will always be out front and therefore leverage upon it; this is a major competitive advantage. . Mail blast out fast, get the message out fast, hire a PR team, and make a splash. That way they won’t have a chance to catch you up and by the time they do, you are on to the next thing.

Patent It

We patent our designs; the downside is it is expensive especially if it is being sold around the world, as you have to patent each territory so it adds up but you will then have a lot more legal leverage.

However I would actually say being copied in hindsight is one of the best t things that has happened to our business. It’s kept us nimble, it’s kept us pushing forward and its made us design our own label collection.  By the time anyone starts copying we are onto the next collection. Good hey. Embrace them I say!


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