brand thievesThere have been endless variations on T.S. Eliot’s sentiment, “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” Though it’s been decades since Eliot penned those words, its underlying truth is still relevant today, especially in marketing. In fact, many brands that copy or find inspiration in their competitor’s ideas see incredible revenue increases year-over-year. For instance, Urban Outfitters has experienced astonishing growth of over 500 percent despite the fact that its founders knew nothing about retail. So how did they succeed? Simple: they analyzed successes in the marketplace to innovate products for collegiate consumers that the competition couldn’t emulate.

Similar to repurposing content, brands that copy ideas from competitors are able to take advantage of tactics that have made their market counterparts so competitive. Here are a few of the ways in which major brands have flat-out found inspiration from their competitors:

J.C. Penney Channels Its Inner Target


J.C. Penney has struggled recently with nationwide sales and lackluster investor confidence. In fact, the CEO, CFO, and other executive management official have taken radical moves such as dumping 10 million shares to get the company back on the prosperous track. While J.C. Penney cleans house with one hand, they take with another, copying Target’s “shops” strategy. In 2012, Target released a campaign that featured shoppers walking through a “faux main street” in their stores to find clothing. Well, the “faux main street” that J.C. Penney introduced is too similar to Target’s campaign for coincidence.

Microsoft Copies Apple


There’s no denying that Apple has one of the most iconic storefronts in existence. The clear glass walls and brightly lighted interior is a design that has become synonymous with the technology-giant. Instead of simply delivering products, Apple’s store space is designed to deliver a tech-feely “experience” to its millions of customers.

When Microsoft revealed its own retail stores to promote their own line of electronics, the result looks strangely familiar… From the wooden tables to the bright lights to the silver panels, you’d think it was an Apple store – minus the logo. Hey, if it works, it works, right?

Bidding on Branded Keywords

Instead of stealing your content, some competitors directly try to steal your traffic. They do this by bidding on your keywords and stealing users who are searching specifically for your brand. One of the latest examples of this is eBay, who not only bid on branded keywords, but bid on everything. Literally.

How to Copy-Proof Your Ideas

While it’s impossible to completely 100 percent copy-proof your ideas, you can develop an internal long-term strategy that keeps your brand ahead of your copying competitors. To do this, simply continue building on your previous successes. By analyzing what works, you can introduce new tools, services, and elements that keep growing the ideas that work for your brand.

Furthermore, continue expanding your sales funnel to create more path options for your consumers to follow. Content is all about storytelling, right? Then take them through a storytelling journey through your sales funnel. This will set you apart from competitors who try to copy your ideas. And even if they do, you’re always the one who’s ahead of the curve.

Have your competitors ever ‘borrowed’ from you?