“I like what they’ve done.  It really means something to me.  Why don’t we do the same thing?”  Yes!  Fantastic.  If you are inspired by something you should steal it.  Not the outcome, but the process.

“Imitation is the sincerest of flattery”
Charles Caleb, 1820

The outcome – the brand, the logo, the strapline, the website, the office layout, the business idea or whatever – might be incredible.  But it won’t work for you.  Or at least it won’t entirely work for you.

If something means something to you that probably means that the other party have thought long and hard about how to make it resonate.  The outcome wasn’t predetermined… but their process probably was.

Cops and RobbersIn recruitment; look at a business like Hays or Michael Page.  Each of these businesses has a clear message to market.  You know what to expect if you go to an interview or if you appoint them to fill one of your roles.  They are run by people with visions and direction.  You can’t set up a Pays or a Michael Hage tomorrow in a bid to do exactly what they do in exactly the same way.  It doesn’t work because you aren’t the same.  You don’t have the same people, history, culture, vision or direction.

The brand of a business is about the way it looks, but it also goes much further and deeper.  The brand affects the way you respond to a business, how people feel about an organisation and how employees act in their jobs.

Don’t spend your time copying other brands or businesses – but take the time to do what they have gone through.

The 5 Steps to Steal:
What do you want to achieve?  Who are you?  What is your big idea?  What is your purpose?  How are you different?  What are your values?

Create the message
How do you explain your purpose?  What is your vision?  How do you show that you are different?  How can your people live your culture?

Create the identity
How do you sound?  How do you look?  What is the experience you are delivering?

Build it
Create.  Design.  Write.  Paint.

Ship it
Get your message out to the world.  Make sure that whichever channel you use there is a clear and consistent message that outlines your purpose, your vision, and how you are different.

And guess what: if you are lucky enough to have people trying to copy your brand it means you are doing something right.  Imitation is flattery.  The truth is that they aren’t the same as you and be able to pull it off with authority.  People can smell a fake a mile off.