When I was a student, I worked on Saturdays and holidays in various departments at Allders of Croydon (now sadly defunct).
For much of the time I was in the accessories department. (On one memorable occasion, I tried to persuade a customer to buy a grey jacquard scarf “because it went with her hair”. How her friend laughed! The customer didn’t. She did buy the scarf though.)
My manager invited me to enter a competition to design a pair of leather gloves – I think it was run by Gants.
I analysed all the gloves in stock. Many had a pattern on the back with three lines that started together at the wrist and diverged towards the fingers. So I reversed it in my design. The elegant pattern I created ran along the back of the middle finger and split into three divergent lines that ended at the wrist.
I won the competition.
Years later, my team at Freemans catalogue was tasked with designing a new-look cover for our sales brochure. I sent the designer out to analyse all the magazine covers at the newsagent and assess what elements were standard – and then create our own version.
Marketing speaker Geoff Ramm recommends you don’t look at competitor sites when designing your website. Instead, gain inspiration from other things your target customer might buy to make them feel comfortable buying your services from you. For example, decide what type of car they might drive, and adapt elements from those websites.
Top tip: When others zig, you need to zag. But first you have to know where they are zigging – so do your analysis!