Counterfeiting: the creative viewpoint

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As technology advances, brands invariably become more vulnerable to counterfeiters, who are using more sophisticated tools every year to emulate well-known products.

To combat this, especially in the design sector, agencies need to work more closely with clients to make brand protection more aligned to marketing strategies instead of treating them as separate aspects of the same brief.

Design industry experts claim that more products than ever are being developed to emulate strong brands rather than blatant copying. These lookalike brands are particularly prevalent in the West, where the counterfeiting market isn’t the same as the Far East.

Legal loopholes make it difficult to prosecute against lookalikes, so increasingly agencies are trying to make their branding and design difficult to copy by investing in the definitive qualities that make a brand resonate with consumers.

Last year, design agency JKR did exactly this when it redesigned Guinness cans to feature a golden harp, bringing to the fore a brand symbol associated with the stout brewery for 250 years. JKR chairman Andrew Knowles explains: “The harp is unique to the brand and moves away from visual clichés, making it harder for other breweries to copy.”

With counterfeit products expanding online to everyday products and even retail stores, brands need to invest more in how they’re perceived by consumers and agencies can help with that. After all, brands matter and what consumers are prepared to pay for them is only what they perceive they are worth.

Seb Joseph, Pitch reporter

To see what design agencies Seymour Powell and Echo Brand Design had to say about counterfeiting, visit the Pitch blog here

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