If you’re considering a rebrand or are setting up a new venture start by taking this post on board as it could help you avoid many mistakes people commonly make.
That’s because society hasn’t yet caught up with the huge changes the internet has caused. The way you go about rebranding needs rethinking, yet most people don’t realise this.
I remember hearing about the internet for the first time in the mid-90s during my intellectual property masters’ degree studies. My mind was completely blown away by Professor Chris Reed’s IT law lectures at QMW, London University. Back then the internet was still very much about Janet an academic network. Professor Reed’s lectures were so inspiring in terms of the significant role the internet would play in our lives, that I was compelled to enlist my husband’s support- he is an IT professional – to get us a dial-up internet connection.
Over the ensuing years the internet has evolved to become what it is today – an essential part of all our lives and businesses.
What This Means for Business
It is still hard to believe that in such a short space of time the internet has evolved to radically change the rules. Its thrown many industries into chaos, and in other cases, the internet has subtly, and forever altered how we need to approach things, including branding.
The upshot of these changes, as highlighted in my two books, Legally Branded and Intellectual Property Revolution mean that IP now needs to be one of the first considerations when there is a new project or brand to create.
IP is Part and Parcel of Business
So many people I come across say: “What is IP?” And those who are aware of it, assume it’s to be dealt with in the same way as in pre-internet days. Largely, IP is considered to be something you might want to consider if you’re wildly successful or if you prefer to protect your IP rather than just using it. It’s perhaps unsurprising that society hasn’t yet caught up with the changes, given that it’s still just 20 years or so that the internet has been around.
More than 70 % of corporate value today comprises intangible assets. Intangibles are governed by intellectual property law. Without question intellectual property in the form of patents, trade secrets, copyright, trade marks, contractual relationships, and know-how comprises a significant portion of some of this value.
What is less well appreciated is that these assets do not automatically just exist. Some steps often need to be taken to turn ideas into IP. IP could be lost if not identified, captured, and secured, or if the wrong choices are made – such as of the name for a business or product. The wrong name really can make business so much more of a struggle. The name is the most important way to make a business distinctive and must be chosen with the involvement of trade mark experts.
Leveraging IP is how value embedded in it is realized. An awareness of intangible assets is the way to manage them, and preserve the investment a business makes in its brands
How Aware Are You of Critical IP Issues Affecting Your Business?
Thinking about IP first when you have an idea or project, is a good way to start managing and protecting IP. Have a strategy for handling your IP.
Why is failing to capture your Intellectual Property a costly problem?
It is surprisingly easy to overlook the importance of IP at the early stages of developing your ideas, and to lose the entire value of your business in the process, simply because of a lack of awareness of IP.
Inventors and entrepreneurs often believe that simple tasks like choosing a name for a new product do not involve particular legal consideration. This is not true. The name is too important to choose without reference to trade mark expertise.
For example, you could lose everything overnight as Scrabulous found out. The business was unaware that using a name that was similar to someone else’s trade mark would be a problem. Two Indian brothers developed an app that allowed people to play a word game online with friends anywhere in the world. It was a huge success. Hasbro, the owner of the Scrabble trade mark, found out about the company and had no trouble getting Facebook to pull the app. So the business vanished from one day to the next.
Had the two brothers realised that their choice of name could shut them down they would have chosen a different name for their online game. But they didn’t take advice from trade mark experts.
Not Realising You’re Making IP Mistakes
But this isn’t the only way names can cause problems. People are often unaware that it’s their keyword rich name that blatantly describes their business services that’s the cause of their lack of success. This is something difficult to understand because from a search engine and marketing point of view descriptiveness is no bad thing. But to name your brand with a descriptive term is plain wrong. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make and what’s worse they may never realise that the reason business is a struggle is precisely because of their name.
Another example of how failure to understand IP can result in loss is the Karaoke machine.
Mr. Daisuke Inoue, the inventor, earned nothing from the billion-dollar industry that the invention spawned. He never thought of patenting his invention until it was too late. Had he done so it could have made him millions.
Reflecting on their experiences, one can’t help feeling ‘it’s not fair!’ that it was the multinationals and not them who made massive financial gains from these inventions. However, their case is not unusual and even now many inventors know little about their intellectual property rights.
The lesson is simple – if you are an inventor, or entrepreneur you need to know about IP.
Business and IP are intertwined. Don’t think of embarking on branding without first looking at IP. Use a trade mark lawyer who “gets” branding to support you in any naming exercise. Why? Because IP and trademarks are one of those subjects where a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.