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Sheep Alert: Imitation is neither flattery nor sincere


I’m sorry, Charles Caleb Colton, but you are dead wrong. Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery. Especially not in business. Definitely not in branding.

Imitation implies you have no clarity about what your value is and what separates you from your competitors, so you copy what someone else is doing. Nothing is sincere about that. You are just acting like sheep, following mindlessly along.

Don’t get me wrong, I like sheep. They are cute and fluffy. I am grateful for their wool for sweaters that keep me warm in winter. Sheep can even provide hours of entertainment (in some parts of the world).

In branding, however, being a sheep is a very b-a-a-a-d thing. (Yes, I went there.) Being labeled a sheep implies you are a born follower. If you are sheepish, you are afraid to stand out. You are NOT being a leader. How are customers supposed to understand why they should do business with you, if you are a clone of your competitors? How will they know what value you provide, if you don’t position your brand to stand out?

So, it’s time to put the sheep out to pasture. Start by thinking about these three points:

  1. What are three ways I do business differently from my competitors?
  2. How can my business fulfill an unmet need of my client?
  3. Where is my opportunity to add value to my services?

If you put sincere effort into answering these questions, you’ll have a springboard from which to launch authentic value statements that will flatter your own business and clearly position your worth to potential clients. Customers will appreciate that your business is a true original, not a cheap imitation.

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