Markus Gull

Are you stuck in the doppelganger trap with your brand?

One of my acquaintances has a special artistic gift: he writes great chansons and presents them to his audience on the piano. Over the years, he has repeatedly received praise that his songs are in no way inferior to those of his great role model, a famous chansonnier and songwriter. Finally, one day my acquaintance took heart and sent a CD with some of his selected works to this very admired artist and even received a reply letter. The old master's reaction was as follows: "Dear colleague, I think your work is really great. However: I already exist."

The new Madonna, the Beatles of today, the Mozart of the 21st century ... what sounds like homage is actually the death knell of any artist, because originality is a lifeblood of any artistic product. Otherwise you remain on the level of a cover band, a look-alike, a double.

The same applies to brands - whether international mega-brands or personal brands of solopreneurs. Yes, wandering through life as a me-too may be profitable, but it doesn't make you happy and at the same time it is life-threatening, because your own identity is always hanging by the thread of others. And it is completely uncontrollable.

Unless you elevate the principle of copycats to an all-encompassing business model like Aldi, for example, and thus create a new original again. Karaoke as an art form, so to speak. But that is an exception.

Macron already exists.

Recently I was walking through the city of Salzburg and saw posters on every corner with a picture that was strikingly reminiscent of the Macron couple. Coincidence? Rather not, but rather a calculation.


What devil drives a local politician to present himself as a provincial copy of someone else? After all, now that even hermits read newspapers, everyone knows: Emmanuel Macron already exists - he is the president of France. And one of the secrets of his success has to do with the fact that he is Emmanuel Macron and not someone else. In other words, not like the bad actors in many TV series, who do not, for example, bring doctors to life in their characters, but act as they believe a doctor does.

Lead us not into temptation.

Cracking the secrets of success of others and then applying them to your own work is as tempting as it is legitimate. Just, please, look in the right places. And don't overlook the most important thing: authenticity.

Every successful cover version of a hit song only became successful, and sometimes even more successful than the original, when an independent new version was created. It only succeeds when the foreign song eventually becomes Your Song.

There are not very many genuine original stories. Most are just variants. Rocky is Cinderella, King Arthur is Star Wars and Hamlet is The Godfather and Sons of Anarchy .

And Apple? Ultimately, it's also just a remix of existing beats and tunes into a new original. But just: Original. And - at least in the past - charged with a grandiose brand story.

You won't find your brand story with others.

So if you are looking for your brand story, don't look for it in others, find it in yourself. In your roots, in your passion, in the founding dream of those who started the company. Because even if you keep hearing that this start-up is Uber in the banking sector or that company is AirBnB in the sports sector or Apple in the computer sector, it doesn't work. That already exists.

And don't confuse story and narrative as many do. Otherwise you'll suddenly end up like a provincial politician.

Products are largely interchangeable. What must always remain original is their meaning and relationship to their audience.

And that's why for all those who don't just want to talk about the price: No Story. No Glory.


Image credits: Cover photo/ - Groucho Marx, Mr and Mrs Macron/ - 641322703

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