Brands should not be worried about copycat companies if they already offer a distinctive and meaningful identity, an expert has argued.

According to Nir Wegrzyn, Chief Executive of BrandOpus, consistently applying a meaningful identity helps firms to embed a “real emotive connection” with consumers.

This, he said, should help their brand equity remain intact even if other organisations try to copy their approach and encroach on their territory.

Mr Wegrzyn pointed out that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills recently opted not to change the rules governing when firms can take action against copycat brands.

He stated that this was “quite a shock” to those companies that wanted additional legal provisions in this situation.

However, Mr Wegrzyn said the decision should motivate brand owners to create “strong identities and packaging concepts that don’t leave them wide open to copycatting.”

“Any brand that has a distinctive identity with the single-mindedness of creating high quality emotive connections is both better equipped to drive purchase, and well protected against imitation,” he commented.

Mr Wegrzyn noted that while the law allows copycats to copy product details, it prohibits them from replicating a defined brand, as this qualifies as trademark infringement.

“When consumers are open to confusion between a copycat and the real thing, it is ‘passing off’ brands need to invest in ownable, meaningful identities and use these identities consistently on packs.”

Mr Wegrzyn went on to note that since consumers’ purchases are based on non-rational decision-making processes, identities with symbolic meaning rather than identities linked to their products are often more successful.

He said this is significant because consumers aren’t aware of these thought processes at the time of purchasing, which means any emotional connections can be “most powerful and entirely inimitable.”

Mr Wegrzyn added that the key to forging a distinctive identity that resonates with consumers is avoiding “predictable category cues.”

This, he stated, will help them “achieve a uniqueness” and a brand proposition that cannot be copied by others.

Brands that forge an emotional tie are best protected from copycats Marketing