Today, it is possible for anyone to borrow, copy or steal any original idea, and use it in any given format without even a slight modification; all this is performed in broad daylight with little to no concern. Ideas are taken, re-modified and re-released, but who cares, aren't we too busy to notice or in reality there is really nothing new to notice, in the first place? Today, every second major ad campaign announced today is either a cut-and-paste operation from foreign campaigns, leading to exact duplications, same for copying of foreign TV commercials and even the movies. Just change the angle, slightly twist the logo, insertion of random letters here and there in the name identity, add some local flavour and Voila!, a supposedly new identity is created.

Because of millions of websites and look-alike logos does it matter critically who owns what? There is no reason that one shouldn't have a clear image and name identity, 100% original and 100% owned. Are we becoming too complacent in stealing movies, downloading music and buying bootlegged merchandise, that we are losing the value system which formerly protected the sanctity of original ideas and rewarded creativity? Where the bar of creativity was once raised as a subject of studying and observing, the bars have now been taken down. We are left with a continuously recycling branding process, where new identities are created, expire, and re-built. If one would chart all the graphic development, creative slogans, branding ideas and corporate identities, it would clearly indicate that innovative progression is almost dead, whereas decades ago, the establishment of a fresh new idea would spark hundreds of others, in a race of competitive creativity. A higher level of creativity was proudly displayed and equally respected but not copied.

Today's TV shows, newspapers, magazines, billboards and media in general are generic reconstructions of numerous borrowed ideas, often communicating stale and redundant messages. Television shows have now been streamlined into a new genre of "reality-idol-panicky-eco-friendly-sexy-smart and politically correct", all from the creators of another similar mess of overused ideas and subplots. From video-trailer mashing to the recreation of comic books and old comedies, hunting season is now open.

Three Reasons

Low Entry Point: The global gut of advertising and web-based cyber-branding has made it necessary for big and small companies around the world to feel obligated to play the global marketing game. To accommodate such an appetite, the junior staff with enough training to know how to cut and paste graphics on the internet is more than sufficient to launch a major advertising campaign. The new announcement would be an embarrassment if projected towards the global realm, yet in small, foreign markets within the domestic spectrum, the copied idea flourishes.

The Dilution: Amidst the massive jungle of competition between brands and identities, smaller firms are simply blinded by their short-term fireworks and are too mesmerized by small-scale success. If their project progresses into a larger, more noticeable venture and a trademark lawyer from the original party takes action, there is always the option of simply dropping the identity and assuming a new one. This is far too common, and explains why current name identities are stale and fail to carry much value.

The Value: The credibility gap in creative services have not only confused customers but have made them hesitant in pursuing the option of paying for high value creativity and branding ideas something that would undoubtedly stand out as a trophy, in the midst of recycled, rearranged metal. According to recent Gallup polls, ad agency executives are rated next to used car salesmen in terms of trust and confidence; businesses are closing their doors to long-term originality, and basking in the temporary success of hit-and-run cheap thrills.

The Winners & Losers

With easy accessibility to technology and user-friendly software, the emerging economies are busting seams. A billion new copycat enthusiasts are due to arrive over the next few years, which will ultimately overwhelm the rare gems and gatekeepers of creative industry, whose identities have been cultivated and polished over time. As global standards are lowered by the second, the losers will be the holders of these short-lived fireworks, as their investments jump from one recycled idea to another.

There will always be a small percentage of smart businesses that monitor the global trends and would be able to recognize when their image brands are progressing, or when they are being taken for a joyride. The course is tough for all, so fasten your seatbelts.

On common grounds, global image building and unique identity development in any area is becoming a lost art, but not for the strategists and those who seek who play with a long-term game plan, who are unmoved by the simplicity of brand recycling, and continue to plot and develop new original ideas and secure under iron clad image and name identities with 100% absolute ownership. The copying of these contents is greatly encouraged.



About the author
Naseem Javed is recognized as a world authority on Corporate Image and Global Cyber-Branding. Author of Naming for Power, he introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the 80's and also founded ABC Namebank International, a consultancy established in Toronto and New York a quarter century ago. Currently, Naseem is on a lecture tour in Asia and can be reached at nj@njabc.com.