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For years we have seen brands start and die. Still, one thing we continually see especially in the Zimbabwean market is the copy-and-paste version of businesses, from retail, industrial, and manufacturing. In recent history one of the ‘worst’ branding styles came from Chicken Slice which is a direct nemesis of Chicken Inn. 

When Chicken Slice was launched over a decade ago, it raised eyebrows in the market including with people to this day still debating on the brand creation of Chicken Slice. Taste and Quality aside, this article is on the ‘branding’ side of things, the dos and don’ts of branding and also the legality and permissibility of copying. 

Innscor Africa has taken Slice Distributors to court on many occasions including infringement on the Chicken Inn logo and Chicken Slice logo. Even though the case was dismissed, this did not deter Innscor from fighting for its tagline. 

The court recently ruled in favor of Innscor Africa who approached the courts on their trademarked ‘luv dat chicken’ tagline which was heavily infringed by Chicken Slice and Burger’s ‘I luv it’ tagline. 

Chicken Inn vs Chicken Slice is a good case study to learn from when it comes to creativity in corporate branding. ‘Luv dat chicken’ was trademarked in 1987 and Chicken Slice opened its doors in 2012. Some say Innsocr is “bullying small brands” but that is not the case. A lot of work goes into building a brand – from creating a name, a tagline and even selecting the right colour for your product. All this for a person to come in and simply copy and paste your brand? We have to be honest, not only is it painful but also infuriating. 

Coming back to Chicken Slice, all this drama and legal action could have been avoided if Slice distributors chose to be more imaginative. Creating a brand is not a one-night thing, it is a long process that involves research, legalities, and creativity but in our years in the creativity industry one thing is for sure, in Zimbabwe, we love shortcuts, we love to use politics in something that could be avoided by a few simple steps as shown on fig 1.

What did Slice distributors do?

We are neither lawyers nor business developers but from a creative standpoint, this is where Chicken Slice had it all wrong:  The delivery of the branding lacked imaginative elements from the premises and the logo compositions. These can have consequences for Innscor and Slice. Slice took “Luv” for I luv it from “Luv Dat Chicken”. Even a child born yesterday can clearly see the tagline alone despite the product being a clear copycat of Innscor’s Chicken Inn.

But who do we blame?

The answer is simple – the owners and the design agency. This happens when we lack values and principles. Something to add, the other challenge we have in the creative industry is we are satisfying egos rather than solutions. If decision-makers could leave their egos and ‘experience’ and let logic prevail, creativity can progress. Creativity is so much more than a pretty picture and flowery language; it has a lot of technicalities which in this case have legally binding consequences. 

For a company that had funding competing with Innscor, they should have budgeted at least $3000 for brand development, and they would have saved themselves from this shame. From the beginning, they should have stayed away from the word, the whole visual language, and the tone of voice.   

Zimbabwe has laws for everything, we are not that behind. Let’s invest in creativity and due diligence, this could save us from stress. Innscor is not bullying but they took advantage of the law to protect themselves from competition, this office is established in terms of section 3 of the Trademarks Act (the Act).

Fun Fact: Did you know that “Superhero” is trademarked by DC Comics and Marvel Comics

This is just one example of how important it is to do your research before choosing a brand name or logo. You don’t want to infringe on someone else’s trademark, or you could end up in court like Slice Distributors.

“Bad artists copy. Good artists steal”

Pablo Picasso

This is just one example of how important it is to do your research before choosing a brand name or logo. You don’t want to infringe on someone else’s trademark, or you could end up in court like Slice Distributors.

By following these tips, you can create a corporate brand that is both creative and effective. 

  • Start with a strong brand identity. What makes your company unique? What are your values and mission? Once you have a clear understanding of your brand identity, you can start to develop a brand strategy that reflects those values.
  • Be consistent. Your branding should be consistent across all channels, from your website and social media to your marketing materials and packaging. This will help to create a strong and recognizable brand identity.
  • Use your branding to tell a story. Your branding should be more than just a logo and a tagline. It should tell a story about your company and what it stands for. This will help to connect with your customers on an emotional level.
  • Invest in creativity and design. We cannot reinforce this more, your branding is one of the most important assets your company has. It’s worth investing in creative and design professionals to create a brand that is both visually appealing and effective.
  • Due diligence is a must. There are many legalities that safeguard brands and a visit to a corporate legal firm won’t hurt rather than being caught in a storm of legal battles that will have deeper repercussions. 

Remember you can be inspired by competition BUT you cannot copy to the extent of infringing a brand – we hope brands and brand custodians can learn from the case of Innscor vs Slice Distributors.