When Is The Copy Better Than The Original?

We all strive to be originals. The one that others want to copy. But can the copy ever surpass the original? You betcha. Consider this: Cher, live in Las Vegas. Then, just an hour later, “Divas” featuring a Cher impersonator. Can you guess who was better?

Yep—the imitator by a long-shot. Which got me thinking: what might make a copy BETTER than the original?

You take a flaw from the genuine article—and make it your calling card. While Cher was behind the curtain making uncountable costume changes, her impersonator was out in front, building a fan base.

You make it about content, not just window dressing. Cher looked bored in a series of Bob Mackie gowns while her counterpart (still looking every bit the diva) belted her songs out like her life depended on it.

You forge new territory vs resting on your reputation. Cher often simply stood and sang a few bars from her hits while her impersonator led energizing dance numbers with her back-up dancers.

Would I go to another Cher performance? Not a chance. The moral of the story: An original who loses her edge can command an audience (and premium fees) for a limited time only. But a “copy” who has found a better niche can steal the show.


  • Mike Blackstone

    Rochelle, that is a great little article. There is HOPE for us copies, yet!!! Thank you for provoking good thought.

  • Tourist Tracker

    Are you Japanese? This story is what made them an industrial giant!

  • Kris

    Rochelle: Fascinating insight – planning and execution are what's its all about. Even as a copy, if you can execute flawlessly – you can make headway.
    Kris Swanson

  • PeterJ

    Why copy just one?
    "Steal from one source and it is theft – steal from three and it is research". Always a useful adage.

  • Aub Harden

    Well, there is flawless execution… But that will only get to "as good as" if your original isn't completely falling down on the job.

    The real key is to identify the original's flaws, as Rochelle points out in her "original" post, and then build in those areas to establish your competitive advantage.

    That can be difficult to do with an original who is on the ball. Look at the iPod for example- major flaws include price & the iTunes software. Competitors have easily beaten them there. However, nobody has been able to touch them in their areas of strength- the iTunes store and product styling/image.

    Copying can be a good starting point, but by itself, it won't win you the prize. Cher's impersonators didn't win- Cher lost.

  • Quality

    Para que inventar a roda novamente? Melhore-a!

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