Not directly, of course. Any artist caught committing obvious plagiarism is likely to end up in court – not to mention the hidden (and potentially greater) cost of lost credibility and fan attrition. But great artists steal in non-obvious ways. They take great ideas from other media and incorporate it into their own. They take a little of this and a little of that, and combine two things in a way that makes something surprising and interesting. Something that feels new, but has already proved successful elsewhere.
Same goes for brand marketing. Consider Lexus, who in early 2012, started training “geniuses” to help customers understand new car tech. This is a ripoff of Apple, but when appropriated for the car market it bolstered Lexus’s already great customer service. No one cared that the idea was stolen. They just cared that it was smart and it worked.
You can steal an aesthetic, too. Umpqua Bank feels more like a Starbucks, or ultra-modern salon, than a boring financial institution. They can call themselves “The World’s Greatest Bank” because, if nothing else, they don’t look or feel like any other. It’s not original. It’s just original relative to other banks.
You can do the same in your marketing. Steal shamelessly. Just don’t steal within your own industry. Try selling candy with fashion models and fancy photography. Try making your corporate newsletter look like a trendy magazine. And don’t be afraid to steal the style of your favorite action or art film for your next piece of video marketing. You’d be surprised how effective these mash-ups can be.