Borrowing Brand Associations

Published by Colin Finkle on

A brand hack that you can do is borrow a brand association from another company through design.

Another brand has spent millions of marketing dollars associating their brand with certain traits they find desirable: quality, style, luxury, value, etc. These traits come pre established in the publics mind, and they can transfer to your brand if you are smart with your design. To avoid legal exposure, keep the imitating to outside your industry. Let’s look at an example.

Well this one is cross industry. The logo for Heys luggage has the same old coat of arms design as Porsche.

Heys logo
Porsche logo

Porsche has the broader brand awareness, so Heys is the one that benefits by all the brand associations that come with having a logo similar to Porsche. Heys has pre existing associations like performance, high engineering, luxury and quality even before they run their first ad. This is an amazing advantage, because Porsche had to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising to earn those brand associations, and backed it up with 60 years of quality products.

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This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you are building a brand, you need to capitalize on these associations so that you are getting a head start at building your brand to have those qualities with your customer. You don’t want to directly copy a logo, but to model your logo, graphics or architecture on that of other brands you want to be associated with is encouraged. But those associations are only stepping stones; if someone buys a Heys piece of luggage and doesn’t find the Porsche quality and performance, than they will quickly drop those associations they had. Expectation meets reality: they will also feel duped or taken, and you will never recover them as a customer for that. Thankfully Heys makes very good bags.

Unfortunately you take the good with the bad. Hey’s has the Lion crest very similar to the Peugeot one. Now Peugeot has a pour reputation for quality, and if Heys was in Europe they may see that brand association as well, a negative one.

Categories: Design

Colin Finkle

Colin Finkle is a brand marketer and designer with ten years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies tell their story at retail. You can see his work at

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