Is your business idea hard to explain and confusing to prospects? We can help. Download our e-book.

Brand Co-Opting or Brand Confusion?

March 30, 2010 | Branding and Rebranding

Like this? Share it.

How your own brand identity fits with others in the market place is a key point to study when developing a new brand identity. Many times we focus on differentiation, or how we are different (and hopefully better) than our competitors. But there are times when it can be beneficial to appear to be similar to others in the market.

A prime example is how companies like Walgreens, CVS and RiteAid intentionally design their store-brand packaging with a strong design reference to the name brand products. Here are some images I pulled from the Walgreens web site.

Benadryl packaging and Walgreens Wal-dryl packaging
Wal-dryl intentionally positions itself with a similar name, color scheme, and layout

We see that Walgreens intentionally positions itself very similarly to Benadryl. Benadryl is the well-known, trusted, brand standard. So Walgreens starts by naming its own product similarly. For a color, it uses a similar pink-dominated with purple and yellow accents scheme. Other matching details include the use of check marks, the pink pill featured in the lower right, the use of purple capsule shaped color blocks, etc.

This says to the consumer “this is a substitute”. I don’t think they are genuinely trying to confuse the buyer, but they are clearly trying to show that they are the “lower cost” but “essentially the same” item.

Is there someone you should look like?

Will a similarity strengthen your brand or just add confusion?

While some of you may start to worry about trademark infringement, you don’t need to go so far as to steal from someone else. It is often more about design tradition.

For example, lawyers and accountants have traditionally had letterhead with centered, all-capped, serifed type. Staying in this tradition makes people feel they can “trust” these professionals. People don’t necessarily want their lawyer or CPA doing things that are unusual. They want them to be law abiding, and therefore design tradition abiding.

As you develop your own brand identity you should consider your competitors as well as design tradition to see if there are elements that can be co-opted to strengthen your own brand.

Let’s Talk