Copy-cat “Look and Feel”

Posted on Feb 1, 2012 in consumer insights, Strategy

I’m searching for the nearest health foods store and I find a shop called GNC

which looks uncomfortably similar to GMC

So my question is, Why would the health foods store want to emulate the look & feel of the branding for GMC, one of the largest, well-known car manufacturers in the world? Or was the design team incomplete in their efforts to avoid a conflict? Or they just don’t care?

I’ve been in client meetings where the client is introducing a new brand, let’s say in the placement agency business and therefore wants their brand to look like a well established agency. What they mean is that they expect their logo to look consistent with other major competitors and immediately convey the kind of business that they are. So we do some competitive analysis and collect all the visual cues for their industry and decide on the major colors (pure, dark, strong) that will help send the correct messaging. Then we drop the branding into a mock-up of the home page of their new web experience with all the proper visual cues and UX elements and Voila! we have a good starting point.

Although is increasingly difficult to create an original logo, is it enough if at least your logo isn’t designed in similar likeness as one of your competitors? In the example above, a health foods store has very little to do with a motor vehicle manufacturer. Or does it? Are they appealing to the same customer base? GMC makes large, well-built, beefy cars. Like a car on vitamins.

Ok, I’m stretching things here, but you can see how silly these conversations can get…and this is pretty common in art-director/designer meetings. And,¬†surprisingly¬†common in the subconscience of the average ‘consumer’.