They say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. It is a huge compliment when something that you have invested in, such as your website has been looked at and someone likes the format so much that they have imitated its design. However, it can also be rather frustrating. You have spent a lot of time, money and energy into creating your brand and values and putting these into a website, showcasing your business offering and ethos. How should one respond to being copied in this way, how can we avoid stepping on the toes of others and most importantly, how can a business make sure that it is still differentiated from its competitors in such a crowded market?
Imitation is Flattering
When coming up with an idea, concept or indeed a website design there are so many aspects to consider; what to include in your sitemap and navigation, images, colours, logos and content. It takes time to incorporate all of these ideas into a working website that you can be proud of. Each page needs to keep the same theme, have a reason for being there and flow well with the rest of the site. Communication needs to take place between the company and the website agency, making sure that they understand your vision and can make that a reality. All of this takes time and is worth the effort when you achieve a professional and easy to navigate website that you can be proud of and that communicates the company values as you had hoped. This is however, what can make it so tedious and frustrating when a competitor copies your website template, almost duplicating it with their own branding. With all of the effort that you have spent in coming up with an idea that makes you stand out above your competitors, this can be disheartening and rather irritating to boot.
Taking the positives
After the initial annoyance has subsided, flip it on its head and look at it in another light. Someone has liked your idea, concept or website so much that they believed it was worth copying! So, you must be doing something right! Your idea is successful in its own right and all of the hard work that you put into creating it has not gone to waste. There is something even more important that you have above your competitors; your company brand, values, client base and offering. You could liken it to fashion! Celebrities may set the trends with their fashion which is in turn mimicked on the high street; but the Karen Millen suit is going to be of a higher quality than the cheaper copycat version from Primark. It does the job, but has it got the same quality?! The copycat may look similar, but does it offer the same quality as your website, concept and brand? If your website is deep rooted in your brand values, this will shine through above your competitors and will make sure that your clients are confident that they know who you are, what you do and can differentiate you from your competitors.
Another key factor is that if your main competitor(s) can do no better than blatantly copy you, then they will always be one step behind you. As your own site evolves and is improved that of your competitors will lag behind.
Miles Jepson Creative Director, Jepson Rae
Never settle for the status quo
With all businesses, but especially being in the technology arena, it is always important to strive for improvements. Even if you have the most successful business with a great website, it is always prudent to look ahead for new ideas, ways to improve on what you already have and continue to evolve your design and brand. This again will put you ahead of your competitors, showing that you are not complacent but always forward thinking, continually improving on what you already have and striving for uniqueness.
If you are always focused on these aspects, bringing in a content strategy, where every aspect of your content is rich and informative and your design is slick and defined, you are putting-in the time, whereas the person who has copied your ideas will not match up. Creating a website that is both visually on point and content-rich is a journey and that is what will always differentiate your business from the copycat. It is only through this journey that you learn what is a priority in your site and within this long thought-process can achieve the best possible website, whilst continually looking at being that little bit better that you were before. This applies to all aspects of your business, be it marketing, sales, branding or literature. If you invest the time in getting your company’s style, voice and brand correct, this will help in its standing amongst similar businesses in your arena.
Top Tips for Staying Ahead
- Have a clear defined idea of your company brands, values and ethos, and aim to bring this into your work, be it through the website, content, marketing materials or even sales approach. The jigsaw pieces that come together to make your company unique are what will differentiate you from your competitors.
- Be aware of what you are up against. What offers are your competitors offering, and how can you set yourself apart from them with what you are offering. Don’t copy competitors, but use them as a benchmark to see how your company can compare. Find out what you have that is different to your competitors and use it to your advantage
- Research material for your content, but never cut and paste something that has been written by someone else and try to pass it off as your own work or reword something to make it sound different. Be original in your content, find your own USP (Unique Selling Point) and voice within your field of expertise.
- Have a look at different design ideas for inspiration, and choose one that relates to your business brand and values. Take inspiration from competitors but don’t copy; there is a difference!
- Come up with your own ideas that are sustainable within your business. For example, if you have created a blog tab on your website, make sure that you update it regularly, if you have a special offers tab, keep on top of that with your latest deals.
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