If you're a maker, the tale is a familiar one. You make a thing, someone else sees it, likes it, and then they make the thing too. They mix it up just enough that it's not actionable infringement. Often they're overseas, where intellectual property law has an even weaker reach anyways. If you've been a maker for a while, the way you likely look at it is, when you’re being copied, it’s an indication you're doing something right. It happens because you’re good at what you do. Nobody copies bad work. Flattery, right?
Usually Amy and I see it this way. We decide to not let it stress us out and we just ignore the copycats. After a while, these folks seem to fizzle out anyways. Instead we've focused our energy towards designing unique, quality product, reinforcing our brand identity, establishing a photographic style, creating clever and useful content, and continue building a following. All these things help our customers distinguish between what’s ours and what’s imitation.
Unfortunately, lately we have a situation where all of those things, not just our product design ideas, are being copied too. Our words, our marketing layouts, our photography style, even our advertising strategies; days after we do something, one copycat in particular follows suit, and this morning it got to us.
To mitigate our frustration, Amy went to yoga and "sweated out her rage", and afterwards we reminded ourselves of the following tenants we offer to you, fellow makers, in case you've endured your own copycat or two.
1. Don’t waste your time and energy.
Your resources are better spent on the positive rather than checking in on a copycat. Just look away. When you focus on your business, you keep the negative vibes out and leave room for positive creative goodness to flow in.
2. When someone follows your lead rather than blazing their own trail, they will always be behind you.
Keep making good things, offer exceptional customer service, and connect with your people. Over time, it will become clear that the other product is an inferior imitation in more ways than one.
3. Keep building on the trust and loyalty of your customer base.
Your long-time customers will call out a copycat on social media without you needing to say anything. Don't even bother acknowledging their copied version of your item. Why give them a spotlight? It's attention they don't deserve unless they work for it in the right way.
Be kind to each other out there, folks.