Posted by Kwamina Korsah on September 7, 2011
There is no doubt that some of the world’s best known and most valuable brands have taken much of their inspiration from their biggest competitors. The growing profile of south-east Asian companies has brought this into focus – they avoid creating and developing original brands for fear of being ripped-off, such is the lack of IP protection in countries such as China. In these emerging economies, there is also greater consumer loyalty to established and familiar global brands. This is because of the relative lack of shopping experience of the south-east Asian consumer, meaning they are less familiar with ‘own-label’ or ‘retailer’ offerings.
This is in stark contrast to consumers in the UK or other ‘western’ countries. The power of retailers combined with the experienced consumer means own label is the norm, with many becoming ‘brands’ in their own right. ‘Finest’ from Tesco or ‘No7’ from Boots are great examples of this.
Consequently, despite having less income, consumers in emerging markets are actually more brand loyal. Companies such as Li Ning, the biggest Chinese sportswear company, appear to have taken inspiration from two of their more established competitors, Nike and Adidas. Their logo is strikingly similar to Nike, while their slogan ‘Nothing is impossible!’ is effectively the same as Adidas’ ‘Impossible is Nothing’.
This underlines the difficult situation of brands from emerging economies in the face of their dominant rivals. While Li Ning have been successful to date, it will be interesting to see if we continue to see home-grown brands seemingly imitate their more established rivals or risk originality as the far eastern economies grow.
Posted by Inese Smidre on December 22, 2010
Strolling through the tube tunnel at the South Kensington station I noticed an ad poster in which a young, strong-looking bloke is looking right at me with more than a glimpse of attitude. The bold tagline proclaims ‘I AM THE RULES.’ The NIKE swish in the corner of the image seems to belong there – this is precisely the fierce, youthful and defiant campaign we have come to expect from this brilliant brand.
As I prepare to trot on through the freezing tunnel, the poster right next to it catches my eye.
In it, the guy is also young and oozing urban cool and confidence. A prominent shrift declares a stunningly similar-sounding line: ‘WE ARE LONDON.’ But this second ad is not Nike – it’s Adidas.
You could argue that because the bloke in the Adidas ad looks more laid-back and is not looking at you in such an assertive way, the message is different. However, there is another Adidas poster right next to these two, in which a guy does look straight into the camera with the same insolent look in his eye as the Nike bloke.
After about 20 seconds of contemplating these adjacent posters I decided that there is after all a difference between these campaigns: Nike is more crisp, innovative and cosmopolitan, whilst the Adidas campaign is more rooted in London street culture and thus has a rougher feel to it. But seriously – how long does an average consumer spend looking at ads, let alone actively seek out to distil their essence?
Both of these leading sports brands have successfully developed exciting, eye-catching but most importantly – indistinguishable – poster campaigns. At The Value Engineers we often talk about how our focus on brands rather than consumers adds a competitive edge to our clients. If ‘customer-centric’ marketers working for competing brands all talk to the same target group and analyse their research data in the same rigorous way, all brand managers end up with the same output and brands begin to lose their differentiating qualities.
Let this be a lesson to all of us.