They say there’s nothing new under the sun. This is especially true in the marketing realm, where business owners are constantly at work to come up with something fresh and engaging. It can be overwhelming, and it’s especially tempting to look to others’ ideas when creating something of your own. The trouble comes when the line between drawing inspiration and stealing is called into question.
Should you not reference anyone at all? Or is it alright to look for inspiration?
The Dangers of Copying:
You can be sued.
It’s called plagiarism, and it sucks. If you’re mirroring a logo, a website design, ect., too closely, then you’ll run into some very real legal issues. If you remodel your website to be the same look as Amazon, it doesn’t matter if you make the font a blue instead of a black – people can tell the difference and you’re breaking copyrighting laws.
You won’t stand out as original.
Originality is very important when making a name for your business. No one said you had to reinvent the wheel, but you make an impression upon potential customers in how you present yourself. If your first foot forward is clearly too similar to another business, then customers won’t think, “Hey, that’s a catchy slogan.” They’ll think, “That is such a rip-off.” It could result in your business looking low quality and cheap – a fatal blow.
Advertising will be harder.
Your business needs to have a unique flavor. If something about your business engages the customer — your name, logo, slogan – then you’re sticking in their mind. That’s the goal of advertising — making people remember you. However, if you mimic other businesses’ too much, then you’re doing the opposite. You’ll be reminding the customer of the competition instead, and you’ve shot yourself in the foot.
The Benefits of Inspiration:
- You can utilize what works.
Some tactics are well-loved for a reason. Instead of simply taking the logo design of a popular competitor, analyze what elements of the logo are so appealing. Why does it draw the eye? What emotions do the colors inspire? What portion sticks in your head? With these references, you can apply the same techniques to the creation of your logo, making one that is unique while still applying popular assets.
- You can follow a trend.
Trends are very important to marketing, because it’s when a large group of people share one specific interest at the same time. Catering to these public whims is important for the success of your business and your prosperity as a whole. By looking at your competition, you can see the theme in your chosen market and model yourself to follow the trend. Being original is still very important, so find out how you can add your own bursts of originality inside of the established theme.
Conclusion: Inspiration isn’t stealing, as long as the source is only a template for your creativity to work with. Take the essence, not the original.