They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but we know that that’s not always true. It always comes down to context. Someone is flattering you when they imitate you at a banquet in your honor, or they imitate your clothing style. It’s not flattery when they’re imitating you for the sake of comedy.
And when they copy your advertising or branding? It’s probably because they’re lazy.
Exhibit A: In college I was a part of the Navigators Christian Fellowship, and they had a kit to help you memorize scriptures:
Now I don’t know how long this has been the design for this kit, and it is a bit generic, but at least it ties in with the brand of the Navigators (charting a course toward God, etc. etc….that’s not their tagline but it SHOULD BE).
Since I’m relatively familiar with this image, I was really put off guard when I recognized it in the How-To section of a Micro Center, until I realized, how generic the compass image is.
Both of these titles have a vague reference to compasses and plotting a course to a better, more tech-savvy life. Neither of these books should use this image.
If you’re going to write a book about Windows, use an image that has something to do with Windows! And Navigators, as much as I love you, find an image that is more specific to you.
Stock images are great for about.com and career-tip articles, but they should by no means be used for branding.