Brand identity is so important, as is the core idea behind any successful company. There are many different products, services, and brands that we instantly recognise. It takes a cracking idea, great design and a clever marketing campaign to ensure that these little sparks of ideas become giant flames that roar into the night for years to come. You might be surprised to hear though, that some of the best products and brands that we know and love, were actually stolen from other people.
Here, we take a look at 5 big brand and product ideas that were stolen from the original inventors before becoming massive success stories further down the line.
We’ve all played Monopoly. Almost every family has had killer arguments where the table has been flipped over in disgust at a sibling, parent or partner acting like a slum landlord and taking all your money in an arrogant swagger (you can tell I’ve been hurt by Monopoly can’t you?!). Did you know though, that Monopoly was a board game for quite some time under a different name, and a different creator? Lizzie Magie invented The Landlord’s Game in 1904, and it was this game that Charles Darrow played in 1932 at a dinner party at his friend Charles Todd’s house. Darrow took this idea to Parker Brothers in 1935, who bought The Landlord’s Game from Lizzie Magie for just $500 and zero royalties. A literal steal.
It is now one of the best-selling board games EVER, having sold over 250 million copies and spawned many different versions of the classic landlord board game, with different countries having different real-life property locations on the board, alongside custom Monopoly boards ranging from sports teams to movie franchises. If you want a Liverpool FC Monopoly game or a Harry Potter Monopoly, you can certainly find it. We prefer the classic though, even if it was a stolen idea. Charles Darrow should not have got out of jail free.
Much like the angst of Monopoly, we’ve all surely experienced the agony of accidentally stepping on a LEGO brick and there is no other pain in the world like it is there? LEGO is now a multi-billion-dollar company with world-wide customers, and full-on, extreme customers at that. Back in 1946 though, the founder of LEGO, Ole Kirk Christiansen, was shown a demo of a plastic moulding machine that was used by the British company Kiddicraft to make interlocking building cubes for its Bri-Plax product.
The design was improved quite significantly in fairness, but the LEGO idea did initially come from someone else’s idea, and the Kiddicraft boss, Hilary Fisher Page didn’t realise that there was an infringement on their copyright, LEGO purchased the rights in 1982 and removed all reference to Page and Kiddicraft after an out-of-court settlement was reached.
Facebook is one of the biggest brands on the planet. Every person from your teenage nephew to your great grandmother probably has a Facebook profile. It is such a big brand that it is now thought to have been at the centre of shifting public opinion and allowing for interference from foreign agencies in the US presidential elections over the last decade. Back in 2002 though, things were different, and the backstabbing began.
As you may have seen in the movie about the creation of Facebook (The Social Network), Mark Zuckerberg was hired by Divya Narendra, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss to get the social networking site HarvardConnection up and running. The year before, Zuckerberg had success with the site FaceMash, causing a stir on campus. On the side from his new job, he was creating his own, brand-new social networking site, which he launched in 2004 called thefacebook.com. In the end, a long legal battle over intellectual copyright was settled for a whopping $65m in 2008 and the rest, is history.
Ray Kroc is a household name as the founder of McDonald’s, but why didn’t he open a company called Kroc’s? McDonald’s was actually an idea that he stole from two brothers with the family name McDonald. Dick and Mac McDonald started a hamburger stand in California that was a good success and caught the interest of Kroc. He had the vision to turn it into a franchise, and it is one of the biggest franchise operations in the world today, but it wasn’t his vision for the original burger stand and its initial success.
The brothers’ restaurant worked well because it had a cooking operation like an assembly-line in a factory, offering fast food and a casual dining experience at a time when this wasn’t the norm. After starting in 1940, the restaurant was a real success, with drivers able to order from the window and have their food in minutes, rather than waiting in the car park for a carhop to bring the food out, as with other diners of that era. Kroc used the power of the new successful franchise system to force the brothers into selling to him. The brothers shook on a gentlemen’s agreement that they would be paid 1% of revenue in perpetuity, but Kroc reneged on the deal.
Adidas – Sibling Rivalry
One of the biggest sports brands on the planet, Adidas sponsors the biggest sports teams, brands and athletes the world over and has a reach far beyond what the original owner could have hoped for. There has been some sneakiness and scandal in some of the other stories on this page, but with Adidas, there is sibling rivalry that would last for generations and straddle both sides of the river dividing the Bavarian town Adidas was born in.
Rudolf and Adolf Dassler had created a trainer company together but at some point, during the Second World War they had a falling out. Rudolf went on to create Puma, and a year later Adolf created Adidas. Both set up shop on the banks of the Aurach river, on opposing sides, and although Puma was the original idea that Adolf stole from, Adidas has certainly gone on to become the bigger and more successful of the two brands
Creating great brand ideas to propel your company into a successful future
You’ve got a fantastic idea for a product or service, and you want to create a brand identity that fits nicely alongside it, accentuates it, and helps your company grow. At Candy, we have the expertise and the artistry to put together the perfect brand marketing campaign to make this happen for you. With the correct brand image and the right marketing approach, you can reach your future customers and build a brand identity that lives long in the memory.
Give our team a call today and we’ll be more than happy to have that exciting conversation with you about the endless possibilities for your company when we combine our design skills with your expertise within your industry. Find out more today by calling us on 0161 826 0123 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ve got fresh, innovative ideas to help you make a mark.