Monkey See. Monkey Do.

Posted on by Drew Lewis

It's got to be a evolutionary flaw. We are copiers. Followers. Preverbal sheep as it were. Sure we copy how others dress or how others speak, but it seems we do so in order to fit in. To be less ridiculed. Perhaps saying it's a flaw is a bit strong, but it can be frustrating when you strive to be different in a world that accepts more of the same. But nothing is more deeply apparent of this than the "monkey see monkey do" attitude in marketing.

Raise your hand if your tired of people using Apple as the end all be all of marketing case studies? Yes we all know Apple did a great job marketing a great product. Does it mean we should copy exactly what they did in order to replicate their success? No. Is your product groud breaking as the iPhone? Probably not. Do you have a visionary leading your brand like Steve Jobs? Going to go out on a limb and say that's it's unlikely. So why do we think we can replicate a maketing platform that's tough to beat on any level. We are sheep.

"Raise your hand if your tired of people using Apple as the end all be all of marketing case studies?"

I have wondered for a minute forever why do we do this. Why are we so likely to copy each other? The only reason I can come up with that has any logical sense is that... it's real damn hard to be original. We copy because it's easy to do so. Then we hide behind the idea that we are paying respect to the great idea/execution we just ripped off.  And then original artist/brand states something like "the biggest form of flattery is imitation" so they don't look like jerks to the media. It's almost a sad dance of public relations just to feel better for being sheep. But don't worry, it gets better, because everyone is a follower. We have to be. You see, in order to learn from the best we have to replicate the best and understand it in order to make something better. So that's it. We have to be sheep in order to stand out. Now I'm confused. Let's just keep pressing.

"'s real damn hard to be original."

So it's ok to copy an idea? Why do I still feel dirty when I sell in an idea that Ikea did 6 years ago? Sure it's different...soooorta. It seems that my subconscious is a crafty and ego driven fool.  It wants to be liked and welcomed in with open arms and given kittens. So Mr. Subconscious tends to ride the course of most... as a follower.

"(Mr Subconscious) wants to be liked and welcomed in with open arms and given kittens."

My point here, if I still have one, is that it's ok to politely copy another idea. As long as you tried in great detail to be orignal where it apply's. I think you'll find that it may be easier to sleep at night. I wish it was easy... but if it was easy to be original their would be more Lester Wunderman's and David Ogilvy's. Instead there are just more people like me, doing their best to make it long enough to one day be the leader not the follower. Till then, monkey do do do.