stop copying!

the wrong: copy blindly & stupidly

once upon a time in new york, all you had to do to build a fashion business was to copy the french couture houses. you took the ferry across the atlantic ocean, tried to get into the shows, found the exact knockoff patterns, went home, and raked it in. later on, on 1968 someone started a company copying yves saint laurent and went on to create a multi-billion dollars company. that someone is calvin klein. if you try that today in new york, you will probably last 12-18 months and then realize all your investment is gone because no one will pay any attention.

if you are trying to start a new business in china today, my advice is: stop copying. the western appropriation era of china is fast closing. yes, there is a successful example of h&m in china called me & city. yes, there is also a chinese nike called ni ling. polo “became” sept. wolves. but, china pace of changes is unprecedented. the path pioneered by the west may not be suitable for us. and even it proved to work, it doesn’t mean it will still work. if you just want to follow ni ling’s road to success, you will be disappointed that a few bridges were burned long ago. you will see them ahead, but never get there.

with all the information available online and otherwise, the quality of the chinese customers is rapidly improving. thus, to build a successful label is to be a trailblazer. go where no one has been before. byd is building a car business with their own lithium ion battery technology in an effort to jump ahead of the traditional gasoline-base brands and thus dominate the industry. even though the result remains to be seen, the courage, the method, and the ideas are visionary. copy that.

if you told tadashi yanai 25 years ago that he would build the biggest japanese clothing brand to compete international and be the richest man in japan ahead of the real estate developer, tech investor, and bankers, he would probably think you are crazy. yiner started with only 7 sewing machines 16 years ago and has over 500 stores today. i understand that the goal is to first make a huge amount of money, then figure it out later. (ellesay can now hire jean paul knott as consultant.) but time is different and my point is to ‘think far, act near’. a good counter example is, again, byd. the first logo is a not-so-subtle copy of bmw, but now, they had to change it to move onto the international stage. ni ning is changing their nike look-alike logo by the end of this year to compete in the european market.

time is different. look far and build something in china for chinese, build an identity, learn everything about your customers, and stand for your beliefs. never underestimate your customers! stop copying now!

(first published in the jul. 2010 issue of his life magazine)


从前的纽约,如果想创造一个时尚品牌,那么最好的途径就复制法国。轮船横跨大西洋,带来了 t 台秀的灵感以及最时尚的潮流。后来,有人在1968年,复制了 yves saint laurent,进而建立一个亿元规模的公司,这个人就是 calvin klein。同样的模式,如果在今天的纽约尝试,你可能会徒劳12-18个月,然后发现事实并非当年,没有人理会你了。

如果你想在中国启动一个新的业务,我的建议是:停止复制。盗用西方观点的时代马上就要终结。这里有 h&m 的复制品 me & city,当然也有成功的例子“中国式 nike — 李宁……中国的变化速度是前所未有的,曾经适用于西方的路径可能不适合我们。事实证明,即使有个案成功,也不意味着它能产生长期价值。如果你只是想跟着李宁的道路走向成功,你会感到失望。

根据网上提供的反馈,中国客户服务的质量正在迅速提高,它是一个成功的品牌的开路先锋。byd 创造了自己独有的锂离子电池技术,是为了跳出现状,领先于传统燃烧汽油的汽车品牌,从而主导汽车行业业务。尽管结果仍有待观察,但勇气,方法和思想是有远见的。

25年前的柳井忠,放出狠话要建立日本最大的服装品牌,成为最富有的领先的房地产开发商、技术投资者和银行家,你可能会认为他疯了。 因为这句豪言壮语只始于7台缝纫机,而今天,塔发展成了拥有超过500家商店的品牌。据我所知,“优衣库”的理念是先普及,再设计(先以低廉的价格在消费者心中打开认知和市场,进而再在实用的单品上添加设计元素)。不得不承认,优衣库以其自己的方式走向了国际。再举一个反例——比亚迪,之前的 logo 与宝马的 logo 有微妙的相似,但却没有因为此走上国际舞台,于是比亚迪有了新 logo。曾经 logo 相似的李宁与耐克,也在各自改进,以“不可复制”的个性驰骋在消费者中间。


(第一次发表: 2010年7月 他的生活杂志. 翻译: 朱婷婷.)

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