Tag Archives: brand creation

Decide on a niche business

How to Decide on a Niche to Focus on in Your Business

Decide on a niche businessIn my podcast Brand Tuned, Successful Brand, Successful Business, Ronnie Fox discussed how focusing on the right niche led to success in his long and illustrious career.

He mentioned that he decided to specialise in a relatively narrow field of employment law when he started his own law firm, doing “golden handshake” work. In those days there were very few exclusively Employment Lawyers. But when the Employment Lawyers Association was formed, the carta of Employment Lawyers grew and grew.

At the same time, he was getting some partnership law work and found that partnership work was very different. It wasn’t really recognized as a speciality on its own at the time. People came to him and said, “well, you went from one partnership to another, you were in a partnership that merged, so you must have learned something about partnership”. And when the number of Employment Lawyers belonging to the Employment Lawyers Association went into the thousands, Ronnie thought he would focus on partnership work and build recognition for partnership as a separate area of expertise.

So, by focusing on an emerging field of work alongside employment law he distinguished himself and attracted a steady stream of work.

Combination of Skills

Tim Ferris in a video discusses combining skills. He suggests we should aim to become specialised generalists and cites Dilbert’s advice of trying to combine a handful of skills that are rarely combined. For example, a computer science degree and a law degree is a great combination.

Of course, you don’t want to dabble in a million things. You should still end up going a mile deep. However, if you spread yourself out across multiple skills that are rarely combined and can be effectively combined you should end up with a unique combination of skills that are sought after.

Tim also covers in that video 3 skills that are highly effective to add to your existing specialism – namely, writing, public speaking and negotiation.

The problems that led me to combine my skills

As an intellectual property lawyer, I identified numerous problems around IP and branding. I’ve written extensively about these in various articles and in my YouTube channel. Briefly, they were as follows

  1. In today’s digital society, the assets of a business are largely comprised of intangibles.
  2. Intangibles like websites, logos, content, trade secrets, names and the like, are governed by intellectual property laws.
  3. Few people understand what intellectual property means, and when it’s appropriate to protect it, even though some people may be aware that it’s important to the value of a business.
  4. Taking the right actions when you create or develop each type of intangible asset is how you ensure you have a valuable business.
  5. Different actions are needed to protect the different IP rights of copyright, trademarks, patents, designs, and know how. In practice, you need to make the right choices, use the right legal agreements and register your rights, such as in names.
  6. Failing to protect IP can render a brand generic, and very expensive to enforce.

So there is widespread lack of understanding of IP laws, and I also noted that people want designs created for their business even before they’re ready with their business plan or business strategy, and some tend to spend a lot of money on branding which will often completely overlook IP.

What to expect from designers and creatives

During my 15+ years in business, I’ve come to know that on the whole, designers who support entrepreneurs with their branding lack a proper understanding of IP laws. Sometimes they have misleading ideas about what can and cannot be protected or owned. That’s not surprising given that IP law is a different discipline. However, their clients don’t realise this. So the upshot is that the IP dimension of branding isn’t adequately addressed, leading to various potential problems for business owners.

Some end up using names that cannot be owned, which holds their progress back, and limits the potential of their business. Sometimes people use names that hadn’t been adequately searched, leading to the occasional disaster, or an expensive rebrand. This could happen either because the clients themselves chose a name without properly understanding the impact of IP laws on their decisions or hadn’t followed the agency’s advice to get a name that was created for them checked out by their own lawyers.

Other problems related to branding are that the client doesn’t secure ownership rights in their logo or in software developed for their website.

By overlooking IP protection or giving a service that did not properly address IP, creatives make my role as an IP lawyer difficult because I am often cast in the role of bearer of bad news, the one the client might divert its dissatisfaction onto.

This naturally led to my decision to combine my skills in IP protection with brand creation so I can help clients and agencies alike with naming and identifying how to create protectable distinctive assets. That’s the best way for a business to uniquely stand out and be seen without being copiable. Combining brand creation with brand protection also means business owners can be properly advised around IP.

Becoming skilled in brand creation

First, I had to get a good understanding of what people need to do when they go through branding.

I have been reading branding and marketing books for years, but now I needed to understand what people needed to do before naming their product or service.

I soon discovered that the terminology in the branding world is maddeningly difficult to penetrate. There is so much jargon, and people use different terms so that you are left wondering whether they are the same or different to something else. For example, some books refer to brand principles, while others make no mention of brand principles, instead, they might talk about brand architecture, or brand platform. In other words, there isn’t even a universal meaning to the terms people use, so that it’s difficult to know what you need to do in order to work out your brand strategy.

The core of branding seems to involve working out your vision, mission and values, that much is simple enough. But there are a host of other details that are confusing. For example, you need to determine your brand promise, and brand personality, or tone of voice. Some people suggest thinking about what you want to leave people feeling, what you want to be known for. Do these mean the same things, I found myself wondering? Is positioning the same as how you want to be known? And what about purpose? This has certainly become a very fashionable ‘must have’ nowadays, but is it going to impact the designs? If so how? Or is purpose more about motivating your team in which case why do some books on branding talk about purpose so much?

Once you’ve worked out what all this stuff means you still need to think about your story, PR, and much more. And then there is the issue of personal branding and its effect on your business. It’s no wonder that small business owners might be confused and not really know who to turn to for their branding.

TUNED Framework

Having spent many years learning about branding, and the last few years trying to decipher all the different terminology in order to work out what currently happens in branding, and what I believe should happen, I’ve gradually created my own unique framework, known as TUNED.

The Tuned Framework combines branding with IP to support entrepreneurs to get a great stand out brand for their business so they can be ready for success. I’ve been very much led by evidence-based marketing in developing this framework. For example, see my blog about Byron Sharp’s work last week. It was really important to me to be objective and to produce a methodology that would move the needle for business owners, using best practice and IP thinking.

Not only does this combining of two completely disparate skills bring extra value to clients, but it also provides a more effective approach to branding by overcoming the numerous problems that now exist.

We now just need to identify entrepreneurs and businesses that understand and value IP so they use Brand Tuned when it’s released later this Autumn, as it will deliver far more for less. I’m teaming up with a fantastic design team and using my own brand as a guinea pig for the visual identity work before launching the final product into the world.

In the meantime, if you want to benefit from the series of introductory webinars I’m delivering then do sign up to the next one which is called Name it Right! It provides a road map to support you in naming your business, products, or methodologies.

Sign up to attend the webinar on 8 July

How to Add Value To Your Business Using the Right Brand and IP Strategy

How to Add Value To Your Business Using the Right Brand and IP Strategy

How to Add Value To Your Business Using the Right Brand and IP StrategyIt is generally accepted that what makes an asset valuable, whether it is a digital or physical one, or any type of intellectual property such as a patent, trade secret, trademark, copyright or design, is based on answers to questions such as

  • How much income is it generating?
  • What is the pattern of income production?
  • How long can that continue?
  • What is the risk it will not materialise as predicted due to obsolescence, dilution, or market changes?

While there is information out there on valuation of intellectual property and business, the aim I have here is to consider how to add value to your business when you are embarking on business branding or new marketing campaigns. What does it take to create a strong IP that is more likely to endure long term?


Separating Branding and IP Protection

It’s important to take on board that using a silo approach does not give you the best outcome for your projects.  Getting the best return on your investment involves treating brand or campaign creation and intellectual property protection in an integrated rather than a linear way, which tends to be the norm currently.

The way to get powerful IP is to think about intellectual property right at the beginning so you can be strategic about it.  Adopting an interdisciplinary approach to brand creation adds much more value to your business.

Most people equate intellectual property with patents, and this misconception gets in their way when it comes to using an inter-disciplinary approach in the creative process.


Misconceptions About IP

Intellectual property is about so much more than patents, and brands are about so much more than trademarks.

IP, as it relates to branding, enables protection of many aspects of a campaign or brand. For example, some of the elements that may be protected as valuable intellectual assets include:

    • Product name
    • Logo
    • Slogan
    • Design of the product
    • Design of the packaging
    • Copy in the ad
    • Script of any commercial or video
    • Look and feel of any website
    • Distinctive sounds associated with the product or campaign
    • Music that accompanies an ad campaign
    • Content created on a web site
    • Photographs and illustrations and so on

Protectable Elements

As so many aspects of a campaign are protectable it follows that you should consider IP when you are about to create and plan a business, campaign or branding project. That is the way to ensure what is created will be ownable through trademarks, trade secrets or know-how, copyright, and designs.

Thinking about intellectual property in the middle of the creative process or at the end of the process is too late. It’s essential to consider IP strategically at the outset so you can create IP that is powerful, enduring, and more impactful and valuable.

In their book “Brand Rewired: Connecting Branding, Creativity, and Intellectual Property Strategy” the authors Anne Chasser, and Jennifer Wolfe address the gap between IP and branding.

Having conducted preliminary interviews with innovation leaders at some of the world’s biggest brands they tested their theory and discovered that forward-thinking companies are finding ways to intersect strategic thinking about IP with branding and innovation because this results in a greater long-term return on investment.

They found plenty of evidence that long-lasting intellectual property involves an interdisciplinary approach from the start.


How the World’s Top Brands Do Brand Creation

By understanding what it takes to create powerful and economically valuable intellectual property some of the world’s top brands get their brand and campaign creation done faster, and with fewer resources. This leads to reduced costs, and a greater likelihood of success for their projects.

When IP isn’t considered first, all too often, exorbitant amounts of money can be spent on researching, developing, creating and testing a product, a brand, or a campaign only to find out that it either can’t be used or isn’t of significantly greater value than what is already out there. Worse, it may result in a lawsuit from a third party. The result is a lot of money being spent without the ability to recapture it over a long enough period of time.

Given that considering IP first, at the beginning of the creative process, reduces costs and gives a greater return on investment the question is why agencies are not changing their methodology to incorporate IP in the early stages. I would love to know the answer to this.


Opportunity for Forward Thinking Service Providers

Given that the brand is potentially one of the most valuable intellectual property assets of a business, an asset that can be used as leverage in obtaining financing and an important part of the market value of the business, which affects stock prices, why would an agency not want to do its utmost to support its clients to create the most value?

It seems to me that there is a real opportunity for agencies that want to stand out to do so by incorporating IP strategically in their process. After all, one of the key characteristics that gives a brand more value is its strength as intellectual property, and an agency is generally engaged by founders and business leaders to improve their overall business performance.

At the small business end of the market, it’s not uncommon for founders and business leaders not to have a good grasp on what IP involves and entails. Many businesses will not have their own specialists on hand to help with IP strategy when it comes to brand or campaign creation. So, the agency can demonstrate leadership and appropriate concern for the client by incorporating IP into their process.

Register Here To Find out more how Brand Tuned supports founders and agencies to take IP into account strategically, reducing wasted costs, creating stronger brands, and getting a greater return on investment.