Whether it’s the rise of private labels or a company blatantly stealing a look and design, it’s not easy for any brand—even if it’s unique—to stay in that lane.
It’s the latest challenge facing Recess, the popular CBD sparkling water brand. A few copycat (or even usurper) brands are popping up, like Daydream, a Canadian-based company that not only has the same look and feel, but also two of the same flavors. Another company that had a similar look and feel, Drink Revive, has since changed its website from public to private. Recess founder and CEO Benjamin Witte said it’s not the first time this has happened to the brand and probably won’t be the last.
“I’ve seen inspirations before,” Witte said. “This is so exact in so many different ways that there’s legitimate confusion possible. That’s a shame and that’s a problem. It’s insulting to our team that worked very hard to come up with this unique idea.”
Witte said he first learned about Daydream because Recess fans were tagging and sending direct messages to Recess about it. At the very least, he said, the Recess community is engaged and cares about the brand enough to alert them about a potential bad situation.
As first steps, Witte sent a cease and desist. Daydream, however, is trudging on, sending out a welcome email this week about pre-orders. Daydream declined to offer a comment to Adweek.
At the very least, the two brands currently exist in different countries and markets—and there’s always potential for plenty to play in the space—like Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
But, Witte’s not too concerned, as he said Recess is bigger than just the CBD drink brand; to him, it’s an “idea” that not just anyone can copy.
“We’re bigger than the beverage,” Witte said. “It’s this feeling of being calm, cool, collected. That’s why there’s this deep connection to the brand and why our community is going out of the way to go to bat for us and defend us.”
Mary Zalla, global president of consumer brands at Landor, said while copycats usually mean a brand is doing something right, it’s still not ideal for established brands.
“While imitation might be flattering, it could also be potentially harmful to your business,” Zalla said. “You don’t want your share eroded by a non-original, opportunistic brand whose product might be inferior to yours.”
Brands can take a series of steps to protect themselves and the image, such as focusing on design that helps consumers understand what the company is actually about, and tapping into a unique market and what makes a company actually distinct.
“Focus on what is truly unique and ownable to your brand, and work to always ensure they remain distinct and viable to your brand,” Zalla said.