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Be An Honest Copycat

Clinton Gorham, Brand Consultant + Web Designer

Hour of Power - Branding Expert Clinton Gorham - www.clintongorham.com

Be An



That is the biggest misconception that I have ever heard. I know what you are thinking. Is this guy telling people to copy others? Yes, I am but don’t be a thief (of course). Let’s get real! It is 2017, and there is nothing new under the sun, so we’re all copycats of someone in the past. I believe this with every ounce of my being.

If you know someone who inspires you or is successful at the same thing that you want to do, there is absolutely nothing wrong with copying that person’s actions, taking their advice, and making it your own. I often hear people say “but there is no formula for success, you have to go through your mistakes and learn the hard lessons needed to be able to find it.” That is not necessarily true. If that were the case, what is the purpose of parents, teachers, spiritual leaders, mentors, coaches, and experts? They are all here to help prevent people like you and me from making those mistakes.

I am a singer. Many, including myself, have crowned Whitney Houston as “The Voice” and rightfully so. She has become the standard for the modern day female vocalist. Singers such as Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, and Christine Aguilera, have attributed their vocal abilities from copying Whitney in their youth. Even this new generation of singers are immolating Whitney’s tone, voice placement, runs & riffs, and overall vocal style. However, if you listen carefully, Whitney’s techniques arguably sounds very similar to that of Aretha Franklin. But why is that? That’s because Whitney studied & copied Aretha Franklin’s vocal abilities because she wanted to sound like Aretha. Was Whitney “The Voice” wrong for copying Aretha Franklin? Are Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Christine Aguilera, and this new generation of singers wrong for copying Whitney? You see where I am going with this? If Whitney had never copied Aretha Franklin this world would have never heard of the little girl from Newark, New Jersey. Now imagine a world of singers who have never studied Whitney, Aretha, or any of your favorite singers. Yeah… it sounds pretty lame if you ask me.

For the record, it takes hard work to copy something GREAT! Whitney’s’ ability is hard to emulate. There are no short cuts. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If it’s easy to copy, then I question the validity of its greatness and originality. There are so many great basketball players that have copied Michael Jordan and LeBron James. There are so many great football players that copied Jerry Rice and Tom Brandy and so forth and so on! How did they do it? They took someone else’s technique and made it their own. That’s the most important but difficult part of business. As Albert Einstein said, “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”! We are all different in more ways than one. Your uniqueness, infused with someone else’s actions/advice, will create something so magical.

As a branding expert, I think it is critical to understand certain aspects of business. Especially knowing your industry & knowing your audience. These two elements alone, if monitored correctly, will shape they way you brand yourself. If you study successful entrepreneurs in your industry, you will see that they all have some similarities in their marketing & branding. It’s inevitable. There is nothing wrong with being similar to someone else. For example, the phycology of color will tell you what colors you should use depending on what industry. You will learn what fonts you should use, and what your brand language & message should be. Does that mean you are a copy cat? I wouldn’t say so… it just means you understand what works and what doesn’t for others and what will more than likely work for you. So yes.. copy! Copy what works. Copy what doesn’t work. Make it your own and be GREAT!

What did you think of this article? Share your thoughts below & don’t be a stranger! Let’s connect on social media. I hang out there often so join the party. I love connecting with fellow “Bropreneurs.” Stay in the loop with my new content, updates & live events in San Diego, California!

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  1. Jessica Stafford

    Success leaves clues! I also love that you share there is nothing new under the sun — so true! Nothing new except YOU. We are originals — so follow a pattern but putting YOURSELF into the mix will always make what inspired you into something brand new, unique! My final thought? Let’s not play by the old rules where we choose what converts over what connects. Connection is key and conversion will follow. #GoodWorks (ps – love the new site and hope you snag the webby!)

    • Clinton Gorham

      Thank you so much for your additional thoughts to this post. CONNECTION IS KEY! I love it!


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I help entrepreneurs develop industry leading brands by creating unique online experiences that change the way people interact with their brand.

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