Brnad Design in copycat danger

The future of branded products and design’s role in brand-building is under serious threat if brands are not protected legally against copycat own-labels, British Brands Group warns.

Edwin Beckett, chairman of BBG, formerly the British Producers and Brand Owners Group, this week called for a new “unfair competition” law to give protection against lookalike brands.

“A number of retailers and some manufacturers were dressing products so as to closely resemble the trade dress of the sector brand leaders. In some cases this was blatant plagiarism,” said Beckett yesterday.

This diminishes input from designers, says BBG secretary John McLaren: “A lot of own-label work is very simple without a huge design input, and with lookalikes there is no design input at all – they are hijacking the livery.”

The group is extending its membership to include design consultancies as part of its new strategy announced this week.

“We will aim to ensure that policy-makers grasp the inward investment, capital spending and jobs which depend upon the brand manufacturing industry,” says Beckett.

Without this spend on developing and designing new brands, designers will become obsolete, says McLaren. “Eventually, there won’t be any brands, or very few. It’s about time people stopped taking brands for granted.”

BBG, a consortium including Unilever, SmithKline Beecham and Proctor & Gamble, has unveiled a new identity designed by Interbrand, also a member.

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