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January 31, 2007

Brand Naming: Are Copycat Products a Blessing?

Copying current technology seems to be a blessing and a curse in protecting a product name.

under-armour.gifIn the case of Under Armour, it is a blessing. Here is a company that simply took existing, easy to find technology and packaging, and positioned it with an easy brand name to remember (think Post-Its and Velcro).

In one bold move, the company quietly hijacked NIKE's dominant equity in this arena, despite a fairly weak slogan, I think (“Protect This House”), and some misguided target market positioning (appealing to women with a brand proposition that sounds more suited to a campaign to make Kevlar vests for the LAPD).

Word of mouth, in this case, has won over customers for Under Armour.

meizu_m8.gifCompare this to the curse of the knockoff: the iPhone has its first possible clone in China, the carelessly named Meizu M8, which some bloggers think may actually be an improvement over Apple's offering. One blogger says “it was only a matter of time before the iPhone got Xeroxed,” a reference to the phenomenon known as brand name genericization.

Engadget says Apple’s lawyers should “start [their] engines.” I would add that they should possibly give Levi’s a call for tips on the difficult job of discouraging Asian brand name pirates.

What's the lesson here?

If you're selling a similar-but-different product, your brand name serves as a key differentiator. Its everything, in fact.

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Posted by William Lozito at January 31, 2007 9:32 AM
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