The Shortest Distance Blogs

They stole our stuff!

They stole our stuff!

Slack and Company | December 7, 2017


Either you just saw creative from your yet-to-be-released-but-launching-in-three-yes-I-said-THREE-short-days campaign spanning half the length of your industry’s largest tradeshow floor, OR discovered your chief competitor is using your big idea in its new campaign.

Well. THAT’S not good.  

Also, that keynote speech you’re supposed to give tonight at the opening reception? Your assistant just emailed you. Your sole copy of the presentation file is completely corrupted and cannot be recovered.

Wonderful. Just WONDERFUL.

What do you do? Freak out, fly back to the office, call an emergency meeting and have your team create a whole new campaign? Did I mention you have just 72 hours?

Or, do you get on the next plane to Portugal and live out your days making purses out of cork?

Take a deep breath. It may not be as bad as you think.

Follow our guide to What Happens When Campaigns Collude (oops, wrong blog) Collide, and see how, with a few small changes, you may be able to stay on track—and in the country.  

First, assess the similarities.

Do you have comparable photography styles? Did you just get busted using the same royalty-free stock image? See our previous post on that topic. Or, is your tagline or headline strategy too close for comfort? It’s one thing for two brands in the same space to use like colors, imagery or vernacular—you’re talking to the same customers, after all.

But if your campaigns share more than a passing resemblance, it’s important to take corrective action before going to market.

Take an honest look at your brand or campaign versus your “copycat” and determine how closely they’re related. Then decide if you’re comfortable moving forward with a few minor tweaks or if you need to do some more intensive renovations.

Then, decide how much your brand or campaign can flex.

Depending upon the situation, your approach will be different.  

Similar photography? Are we talking about general visual style? Are you both using a similar color wash or design treatment on your imagery?

Or are you both using the SAME IMAGERY? Far too often—especially in B2B—companies rely on stock rather than shot photography for their campaigns. And they run the risk of something like this happening.

Um. Awkward.

That’s why we always recommend making commissioned photography a priority. A custom, unique and own-able visual style can be achieved more affordably than you may think. And it’s important enough that it’s worth the investment.

Similar messaging? Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. “It’s not just what you’re saying, it’s how you’re saying it.”

No, this isn’t constructive criticism from your spouse. It’s a reminder that tone counts for something. A great deal, actually. Again, especially in a space where you may be saying similar things to a lot of the same people—how you say it can make all the difference.

So, if you’re seeing some of the same themes in your headlines and copy as your competitors—first, it goes without saying that you need a strategic and differentiated brand position. But, it’s also important to find a way to differentiate with a tone, personality and voice that’s all your own.  

Make sure that no matter what you’re saying—your tagline, your brand position, your value prop, your headlines and copy—it could only come from YOU.

Same concept/strategy? Your campaign uses puzzle pieces as a metaphor for solving problems. Their campaign uses puzzle pieces as a metaphor for solving problems. Now what?

Okay. Now, you start over. Besides, we know you can do a lot better than puzzle pieces.  

(Oh, and might we suggest you begin with a competitive audit this time?)

But, seriously. We get it. Sometimes it can feel like everything’s been done before. Like there are just no new ideas left out there.

You’re not the only one who feels this way. Your puzzle piece metaphor is another company’s wild boar selfie.

You heard me right.

Or rhinoceros SUV.  

But new ideas are out there, we promise. You just have to be willing to throw out a few good ideas to get to the great ones.

Creativity and originality aren’t a free-for-all. And great, original, creative ideas don’t just appear out of thin air. They take discipline. Hard work. And the determination to keep going until you get to something that literally stops you in your tracks.

Need help coming up with some great ideas? You know where to find us.

Until we all jump on the cork bandwagon and move to Portugal, that is …

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