An interesting concept, and one that is explored on Mintel’s trend analysis website Inspire, that imitation and innovation are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The cliches give us clues to the importance of imitation – talent imitates, genius steals; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But beyond that, it is important to see how ideas can germinate over time; they can become embedded in the consumer mindset; visual clues are referred to over and over again to trigger feelings of comfort, reassurance, happiness…

Have a look at the video below: it shows how modern, popular culture is influenced by the past; but it also shows how that which we think is innovative and new (3D animation in films, seamless computer generated imagery) relies on the past to propel it forward.

Maybe there’s never anything so easily distinctive as a ‘new’ idea – but that is no bad thing. The challenge is using the past as a springboard to the future. How can we learn and develop our own products from everything that has gone before?

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