Tag Archives: brand identity

Promoting Business Social Media

How to Promote Your Business on Social Media – My Trials and Tribulations

Promoting Business Social MediaOver the last few years, I have really enjoyed creating content to share my thoughts about brands and IP because that is how I refine my thinking and develop new ideas. In the process, I have come up with a framework that moves the needle for business owners. It’s a product called Brand Tuned, which my next book will cover.

Yet in consistently putting out content on a range of social media platforms I have sometimes wondered whether there is any point in continuing these marketing efforts given that I do not get a lot of engagement on any of the platforms. There is the odd hit piece of content, but as a rule, I might typically get 4 or 5 likes on a LinkedIn update for example.

Is it worth continuing is something I ask myself a lot?

Although they say not to compare yourself to others, it is difficult not to do so, and to feel you are lacking in some way. Inevitably I have found myself wondering what content would have more impact.

I know Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice is to engage more with others’ content if you want engagement with your content. He should know. He runs a 1000-person social media agency. So, that’s something I definitely intend to try, but so far I’ve not made time for it because there are so many other priorities, such as running my business, producing the content I’m putting out on social, overseeing the delivery of client projects, writing my new book, creating my new product – Brand Tuned, and a myriad of other things, such as doing a marketing plan for my upcoming book as my publisher expects a really robust one.

Overcoming the Temptation to Give Up

I have often been tempted to give up. Why not save my time, and just not do any social media marketing? This was my thought when a video guy once remarked to me that my content was not getting much engagement. At the time I thought, ‘if he’s judging my content in this way maybe others are too’? So, am I doing myself more harm than good putting out content that is seen to not be engaged with? Should I continue? Is this person’s judgement an indication of what everyone else is thinking? Is there any point to my providing education and information for the world to freely take and use?’

You may wonder why I continue to put out a weekly video, a weekly blog, get my team to create content from it to share on all social media platforms given that it feels like nobody cares about what I’m putting out if you measure it by the number of likes and comments.

It is because I know this is a long-term game, and deep down I am confident the lack of massive engagement does not really matter, that I continue.

Likes and comments aren’t the right metrics to focus on for anyone. Anyway, I feel I can plug some of the gaps down the line once I double down on one or two channels. I am still developing my ideas and working out what I can do to really move the needle for entrepreneurs and business owners when it comes to supporting their business journeys. I feel I am nearly there.

In the meantime, what gives me the courage to continue is that I get plenty of work coming through which I attribute to my blogging and social media efforts. These put me top of mind for people who know me from other areas of business life. They notice my content even though they do not necessarily do anything to engage with it. However, they turn to me when they need IP support because in their minds I am associated with IP and brands. Given that I am everywhere online, I am there in front of their noses wherever they hang out, so that when they have a need for services that I can help with, they contact me.

Often someone will tell me they noticed a video I had put out, or that my content is amazing. You could knock me down with a feather is my thought when anyone says this to me because they have never once liked or commented on my stuff anywhere on social media.

Podcasting

In my quest to be omnipresent, I have gone on to produce a podcast Brand Tuned – Successful Brand, Successful Business. It does not get massive numbers of downloads judging from the download figures other podcasters occasionally mention getting. So, I know there’s room for improvement. I should be featured on other people’s podcasts, improving my interviewing skills, and taking other actions.

However, I try to focus on the positive, that I’ve got a podcast out there, that it’s gradually getting more known, that it brings me to the attention of people who would otherwise not notice my content.

The thing is you cannot do everything well from the get-go. We have all got strengths and weaknesses and can grow and learn until the day we die. Continuous improvement is something to strive for in every facet of the business, if not in life.

While there are different schools of thought about the right way to approach social media marketing, I have my own views.

Some say you should just focus on the most important social media channels for your business and double down all your efforts there. For me, that would probably be LinkedIn and Twitter.

Apart from the low engagement levels, I seem to be doing well enough on LinkedIn judging from the fact that my Social Selling Index Score is in the 80s. I have even been granted access to LinkedIn live which I’ve not yet used because I really can’t find time to think what a good approach to use for LinkedIn lives would be.  I do not prioritise it because I do not see the point of doing a live video when I might, at most get a handful of live listeners. Why not just record a video instead? Why do all these social media platforms get us running around doing live videos? Haven’t people got better things to do than to watch live videos?

Approach to Social Media

On balance, although it is sound advice to double down your efforts to one or two platforms, I do believe it is more important to be everywhere first. I guess I prefer to build an omnipresent brand, while gradually focusing on one or two platforms more because if things were to suddenly change so that your preferred platform disappeared, I wouldn’t want to start from scratch on a new platform. Better to keep a presence on them all and then home in on improving your presence on your one or two platforms of choice in due course.

From time to time I buy books on how to increase LinkedIn effectiveness, and I implement one or two ideas. However, I have learnt that there are no silver bullets. I suspect the answer to getting engagement is exactly what Gary Vaynerchuk outlines in his video This requires a lot of time because you have to identify posts to engage with on 10 different hashtags and leave thoughtful comments, several times a day for 3 months. I’m still trying to find a way to implement this that gets my team doing some of the heavy lifting but so far, it’s not been successful, probably because I’ve been half hearted about it.

This is partly because I am aware that the nature of people’s content does impact the engagement they might expect. My content is probably not built for massive engagement compared with someone who is selling something that people are struggling to do, such as to get more traction on LinkedIn, or to learn how to invest in property without having a large sum to put down as a deposit or the like.

Much of the content that I have traditionally put out has focussed on how the law impacts people. This means people will either unfollow me if what I say makes them uncomfortable (because they learn that what they’re doing is not correct for example), or they’ll take note but not necessarily engage to indicate that they’ve taken note. At some point down the line when they see a need for it, they’ll reach out to me.

As mentioned, I have already concluded from what people say to me, that there are a lot of silent listeners out there. They are paying attention, but they are busy thinking about other things, it is a noisy world, and people are only half seeing all the content out there.

At the same time, I am constantly exploring putting out different types of content to assess what content gets the most interest.

Why Am I Writing This?

You may be wondering why an intellectual property lawyer is creating content around how to promote your business online. Well, that’s because the brand building is very much part of what I seek to help my clients to do. My new book will discuss this aspect of my work in more detail.

It is not generally well known that intellectual property refers to many different assets, not just to patents and inventions. In fact, the most relevant form of intellectual property to every business is their brand. The brand is entwined with copyright, trademarks and building your presence online. My approach to IP sits very close to marketing and advertising.

You see the name you use to identify your products and services is the lynchpin to your marketing activities. If you are not using a name that works from an intellectual property perspective, it is like having a colander instead of a container supporting your marketing. You would be pouring time and money straight down the drain if you are using the wrong type of name. A large portion of your marketing time and money will feed your competitors marketing budget instead of putting your business at centre stage.

Also, you need clarity to build your brand, and brand strategy is something I very much help my clients with using our Brand Tuned offering.

Small businesses do not have resources to waste so before you consider how to market your business make sure the IP fundamentals are in place. In this post, I do not discuss these but there are posts on the Azrights site that point you in the right direction such as

Is a Brand Intellectual Property? Definition of Brand and Intellectual Property,

Intellectual Property Rights – Frightening?

How Brands Grow – a book by Byron Sharp

The world of content is getting noisier and noisier. It can be difficult to make an impact, but it will be doubly difficult to do so if your brand is hard to find once people become aware of you.

That is why sorting out your brand name and strategy is so important. You also need to address how to combine your business, product, and personal brand to best effect, and get all your social profiles set up in a consistent way before getting started. When your resources are limited, it is even more important to be strategic, so you make the most of your content.

If you would like to know more, sign up to my next webinar Establish your Brand Strategy which takes place in August.

How are you tackling your brand building? I would love to know. Do leave me a comment

Sign Up Now

Brand STRATEGY - CORONAVIRUS

How to Develop a Brand Strategy in the Face of this Corona Virus

Brand STRATEGY - CORONAVIRUSBusiness has changed radically since Milton Freidman wrote in Capitalism and Freedom (1962) that there is “one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits”

The changes in our digital environment – increased globalisation, new technologies, and radical socio-political shifts – mean the world of business looks nothing like it did back in the 1960s. And now the Corona Virus epidemic will undoubtedly further impact the forces that drive business.

These shifts cement the trend away from pure profit-focused business towards purpose-led organisations.

Stakeholders at all levels in businesses want to set a purpose beyond the balance sheet – one that contributes a positive impact in the wider world.

Business for Good

Businesses today are finding that doing good can also mean doing well. Apparently, companies with an established sense of purpose – one that’s measured in terms of social impact, such as community growth, rather than by reference to a bottom-line figure – outperformed the S&P 500 index by 10 times between 1996 and 2011.”

90% of executives recognize the importance of having “an aspirational reason for existing which inspires and provides a call to action for an organization as well as benefiting society.

What is your purpose? It’s an essential element of your brand to identify. It’s not easy and requires time to think through.

Once you’ve determined your purpose it’s important to make it drive every aspect of your business. It mustn’t just be a laudable statement that’s bandied around.

 

Corona Virus Crisis Impacts Everyone Differently

 While the Corona Virus crisis will undoubtedly kill some small businesses stone dead, those that survive will be looking for the best of forward thinking to help them thrive and stand out in an uncertain, fast changing, and competitive environment.

Designing your business with purpose at its core is the right starting point. Thinking through your brand deeply over the next year or so to set your brand strategy will help you to achieve a much stronger brand.

We’ve set up our BrandTuned Facebook group to support businesses during this difficult period. Our gift to you is to support you during 2020 as you grapple with questions around what to do in the face of the Covid-19 crisis or if you’re working to rebuild your business.

Brand plays centre stage in good business design, and it can take as much as 6-12 months to do all the soul searching and thinking that’s involved in creating a unique brand strategy and stories as part of your business design.

Take advantage of this opportunity to increase your understanding of how to achieve a strong brand using intellectual property and a clear brand strategy.

Contrary to popular belief, brand should not be a design led activity.

 

One of the biggest mistakes is to equate brand with a visual identity

Brand is not a logo. It’s your company ethos, and strategy. So, leave the visual identity phase of branding till much later. During 2020 just focus on rethinking your brand. You’ll have plenty of time in 2021 to get the visual identity in place in order to take advantage of the upswing in the economy that we’re likely to experience by mid-2021. The only exception is if you have products and need to change the label on them, for example because you’re selling something else or using a new name. Then you will need to progress the design sooner.

But apart from such exceptional reasons, it’s one of the biggest mistakes I see to turn to design as soon as people reinvent aspects of their business and brand.

I caught myself about to make that knee jerk reaction when I was rethinking my business last year. I was turning it from a regulated law firm to a non-regulated law firm that also supports business with their brand strategy. We are all so inclined to assume that we need new designs way before we have deeply thought through our brand strategy because we’re still in 20th century thinking mode.

So, hold back from changing your designs. In the 21st century that we are being catapulted into more rapidly by this Corona Virus, brand is no longer a design led activity. It’s an intellectual property, and business structure led activity.

As we go deeper into this crisis and emerge from it at the other end make sure you think about your brand in the right way, designing it with IP at its heart as you nail your brand strategy.

Don’t be impatient. It takes time to know how to best structure your business. If you already have a brand, it’s unlikely any of your tweaks to the business model will necessitate an immediate need for a new visual look so avoid the temptation to initiate new designs. Just carry on your business and work on it by refining your brand over the next year.

 

Purpose – Your Why

Thinking about your “why” both on a personal level and on a business level will help you to align the two when designing your business.

I’ve developed a holistic framework for structuring a business for success and developing its brand strategy which is the subject of my new book ‘BrandTuned, How To Perfect, Protect and Promote your Brand’ This will be available in 2021.

Using brand, marketing and IP thinking, the book helps you to develop a well-considered brand strategy and identity that resonates with your ideal market before you turn to visual identity at the very end of it all.

My framework is call TUNED each letter of which signifies the following statement:

 

Think IP First!

Understand your ideal client!

Name it right!

Establish your Brand Strategy!

Driving the brand strategy!

 

Get into the right mindset now by doing some introspection. Consider your values, what you stand for, and your why. What sort of culture do you want to create within your business?

 

Culture

The future when we emerge from this world crisis will be fast moving. Think about how you will create the right culture, and how you will instil that culture into a remote team now so that you have the basic tools in place to train your people as you recruit new team members in future once we fully emerge from this lock down and the economy is booming.

The world’s top brands are created in an inter-disciplinary way. The silo approach which currently prevails in branding, that treats IP and brand as separate subjects does not serve business well. It often adds to costs and does not include IP thinking at the right time.

Once you have nailed your strategy, and your visual identity designed promote the business externally and internally. Do so to convey your brand promise and purpose and to recruit and equip like-minded team members to make ‘on brand’ decisions.

We are all collectively still in shock as a result of the changes brought about to our lives since mid-March. Depending on the business you are in, you may have to identify whether there are innovations available to you. You may need to adapt and adjust your business model just to keep it afloat.

It may be that your business, like mine, was already adapted to be digital and lends itself to remote delivery. The work you need to do is to better understand your customers’ needs right now during this crisis and beyond. What adjustments could you make to your products and services, or what new offerings could you introduce to serve some of your customers?

Conclusion

I will be working with you to disrupt the traditional silo approach to branding, so you don’t miss opportunities to create ownable, distinctive IP. Among other things, I will help you to:

  • define your brand
  • identify your ideal client
  • decide on the brand promise that will motivate your ideal client to choose your business
  • to pick a name that will put you “front of mind”
  • to ensure the name and other brand elements you choose are “ownable” and distinctive
  • to establish a road map to grow your business.

JOIN BrandTuned Facebook Group
Join the BrandTuned Facebook group to continue the conversation around your IP and brand and most importantly to support you to implement your learnings.

branding or rebranding

The Second Costly Mistake People Make When Branding or Rebranding

branding or rebrandingThe Second Costly Mistake people make is to assume “brand” means a logo or other visual design.

Due to the widespread confusion about branding: what it is, and what you need to do to get a brand, people tend to start by getting a logo and other visual designs, assuming this is what’s involved to “brand” their business.

It’s essential to understand what “brand” means. You don’t need to be a household name for “brand” to apply to you and your business. Brand applies to everyone whether large or small business because we all have a brand whether we know it or not.

What’s involved to create a brand nowadays is much more than the visual identity. That’s enormously important, of course, but before you can get a logo and other visual designs that reflect your business, it’s vital to first work out what you want them to communicate. Who are you? What are you all about? What is your brand promise going to be?

The designer will need some essential information from you about your values and what you stand for to guide the visual identity work. Thinking this through can take months. It’s important to have meaningful answers before engaging a designer. Otherwise, you will make hasty decisions during the branding process, as I did, which will give you an unwanted “branding” outcome.

When I first set up my business back in 2005, the words ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ were confused in my mind. I spent thousands on “branding” without getting anything more than expensive design work. The designs didn’t help me attract the right sort of clients either.

The creative agency I used had a process to help their clients work out what their brand was all about. This involved completing a questionnaire and having a meeting.

I really didn’t understand their questions. For example, when they asked me about my values, I wondered what values they had in mind. Values about what? The designers were also trying to understand what intellectual property meant!

Based on that meeting they sent me a variety of logo designs. I picked one I liked – it had an old fashioned distinctive-looking font. And that was it. My brand identity was created around that logo.

The website they designed for me featured many pictures of musical instruments, including violins and pianos.

At the time being new to the world of business, I was quite clueless about all things branding. So, this is the brand I got. The visuals gave a cliché impression about the work of an intellectual property law firm.

I wasn’t a music lawyer, but due to all the musical instruments featured on the website, I kept getting enquiries from musicians who couldn’t afford our services.

This is a mistake I see many businesses making in that they hand over to designers to brand their business before they’ve thoroughly thought through their business idea for themselves. It’s important to think about the type of client you want to attract.

I should have started the branding process somewhere else. I needed help to understand what “brand” meant and what type of client I wanted to attract. This is something that requires business and marketing thinking. Developing your brand strategy is essential before thinking about visual identity.

Far better to start with temporary, low cost designs. There’s nothing wrong with that. Many of the clients I support have generally spent a year or two getting started with a temporary name and low-cost designs. They’ve tested the market, understood what works, who their ideal client is, and then they’re ready to identify a good name and get a visual identity.

Your brand is the reputation and identity by which you and your business are known. How do you want the world to think about your offerings? What do you stand for? The answer to such questions impacts your choice of brand “signs”, ie, your name and logo and other designs that reflect your brand.

The word “branding” derives from the identifying mark that was burned on livestock with a branding iron when farmers branded their livestock. It was done not only to enable identification but also to make a certain ranch’s cattle unique.

Sometimes the brand mark told you the name or the symbol of the ranch or owner of the cattle. If any rustlers stole the cattle, the evidence was right there that they were stolen. In this way, branding served as

(1) a legal mark of identification

(2) a physical mark of identification

(3) a way of linking the cattle to the owner

(4) a way to stand out from other cattle

(5) a source of prestige for the ranch.

Just looking at the branded livestock enabled people to distinguish them from other cattle. You were also able to see the connection between them and the farmer or the ranch. If the cattle were very strong, numerous and healthy, people knew who they belonged to. “Those are Mr. Miller’s cattle. He owns five thousand cattle and one of the biggest ranches around. See how healthy his cattle are? That must be a big ranch to own all that livestock.”

A brand mark discouraged cattle thieves. It’s like stealing a company car with the logo and company name on it.

For business today, branding has moved on as a concept from its roots in visual imagery. Although the visual element plays an important part in the long-term growth and prosperity of your business, what you first need to do is to sort out what you stand for, in other words, your brand strategy.

brand

Design Your Business Brand

brandAs Steve Jobs noted, design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.

Designing your business brand, methodology or process is therefore about a lot more than getting a visual identity for it. So, learn to leave Visual Identity Till Much Later Don’t assume branding is synonymous with getting a visual identity.

 

Mistaking what brand means

I myself made that mistake when I first set up my business in the mid-2000s.

The words ‘brand’ and ‘branding’ were very confused in my mind because I was a new business, and a less experienced entrepreneur back then. So, I spent thousands on “branding” without getting anything more than expensive design work.

Your brand is more about the way you design your business than designs you get for your business to use.

Although, the visual element does play an important part in the long-term growth and prosperity of a business, it’s all too easy to turn to a visual brand identity, when what you actually first need is to sort out your brand strategy.

I’ve explained in other posts why you need to go to different providers of services to get your brand strategy and brand identity, and then your visual identity.

 

Clarity About Your Business Brand

Only once you’re clear on your business brand would it be appropriate to turn to a designer for a visual identity.  You could brief the designer properly, avoiding the need for them to spend hours and hours trying to understand your business, mission and values – which they, of course, need to know, in order to be able to deliver your visual identity.

A brand is much more than a logo, and branding is about a lot more than visual designs.

Just because you need some sort of visual identity to start your venture, doesn’t mean you should undergo a costly branding visual design exercise. You could just use some basic designs more affordably so as to get started testing your business concept, leaving the more comprehensive visual identity work till much later.

Once you’ve thought through and tested your positioning, name, niche, and business model, and identified a winning formula, protected your intellectual property – THAT’s when the time would be right to engage designers to create a visual identity to reflect your brand brief.

Until then, something temporary – or your existing visual identity (if you’re rebranding) will be just fine.

 

Confusion About Branding

As mentioned, I myself was confused about what branding meant when I started my business some 14 years ago.

I made the mistake of paying for expensive “branding” for my business by engaging some designers who provided “branding” services. They had a process to help work out what my brand was, which involved completing a questionnaire, having a meeting and some discussions which I don’t remember at all, nor did I really understand what they meant by their questions. I know they were also trying to understand what intellectual property meant!

They sent me some logo designs afterwards and I picked one I really liked – it had an old fashioned distinctive looking font. And that was it. My brand identity was created around that logo.  I had picked brand colours that I liked before they created the logo, so that was my brand identity work completed.

Why the Brand was Unsuitable

The website they designed for me featured many pictures of musical instruments, including violins and pianos.

At the time being new to business I was quite clueless about all things branding. So, this is the brand I got. It gave a cliché impression about what an intellectual property law firm was all about. The trouble was that I wasn’t a music lawyer, but due to all the musical instruments featured on my site, I kept getting enquiries from musicians who couldn’t afford our services.

This is a mistake I see many businesses making, because they assume branding is about getting a logo and other designs.  They hand themselves over to designers to brand their business and remain clueless about what brand really means.

I should add that the designers were lovely people, and very keen to do their best for me. The problem wasn’t with them. It was simply that I wasn’t ready for the branding process at that time and should have started with someone else who could help me understand what a brand is, and to provide guidance so I could develop my business brand strategy before visiting the design agency for the visual identity work.

How different it was for me second time around, a few years ago.

I decided it was time to rebrand and get a visual identity that was more reflective of our focus as a law firm – namely technology and online business.

This time, I did my homework on my business, mission, values, purpose, positioning and more – as well as some of the research I advocate everyone should do before launching their positioning. I then only opted for the visual identity work AFTER getting clarity on my brand strategy on my own (with the help of a marketer). Therefore, the exercise resulted in a more successful outcome.

Every single business, charity or entity has a ‘brand’ in the sense that they all have an identity rather like you or I have an identity as people.  To work out the details so that what you say, how you operate and what you promise reflect the way you want to be known as a business and brand takes time to think through.

 

Values and Beliefs 

It involves working out which values of founder are to be paramount in establishing what the brand of the business or charity represents. What its personality is, and what it wants to stand for – it needs to be something that resonates with its customers or those they serve.

Working out what you want to uniquely provide to the market, and your marketing messages to evoke a desired response in the minds of your customers through your brand promise is the first step involved to brand your business. Until your business can consistently deliver that, you will not have a brand

Wally Olins, a thought leader in brands and branding says

‘A brand is simply an organisation, or a product, or a service with a personality … Branding can encapsulate both big and important and apparently superficial and trivial issues simultaneously … Branding is not only a design and marketing tool, it should influence everybody in your company, it’s a coordinating resource because it makes the corporation’s activities coherent and above all it makes the strategy of the organisation visible and palpable for all audiences to see’. 

While design helps support the overall impression and feelings a brand wants to evoke and convey, if you don’t first work out your brand strategy for creating a successful business that meets a market need, then no amount of ‘visual identity branding’ will make your business into a successful, coherent brand. 

 

Brand Name

An important point to note is that the good associations that customers have with a brand are, for the most part, transferred to the brand’s name. Just as individuals are identified by their name, so we identify a business primarily by its name.

The name plays a very significant part in the way the law protects a brand. Even if a business has many other symbols, like Coca-Cola has with its distinctive logo or bottle shape, the name is still the most critical component of its identity. This is why you need to work with a trade mark lawyer who “gets” branding for the initial first phase of your branding exercise when you’re developing your brand strategy, and identifying suitable names.

More than 70% of the value in businesses in our digital economy comprises intangible assets. These intangibles include your brand name, logo, website, brochures, and more. They’re impacted by intellectual property laws the world over. Income follows assets. If you own physical property it can generate rental or other income for you. This is well understood in relation to physical property but not so well appreciated when it comes to business assets, such as a brand name or a piece of software.  These assets underpinned with IP protection are where the value in your business will lie as you succeed and grow.

So, start your brand thinking by consulting an IP lawyer, that focuses on trademarks and has a deep understanding and interest in what brands are all about.

 

business development

Business Development: What Business Are You Really In?

business developmentIf you prefer to listen/watch a video instead of reading then click here to go to my Youtube channel.

Asking yourself the question ‘what business am I really in’ is well worth doing periodically – the answer might just help you to discover hidden opportunities or an angle for business development that you otherwise wouldn’t have considered.

Take cinemas as an example.

When I was a child I remember outings to the cinema would often start off with a visit to the shops to buy nibbles and sweets. We’d then walk over to the cinema, buy our tickets and go into the auditorium to watch the film while munching away on the foods we’d bought.

Fast forward to today when a visit to the cinema is a different experience.

 

Transformation

What’s happened? Well somewhere along the line cinemas began to look at their business in a different way. They asked themselves this question of what business they are really in, and instead of defining it as the film viewing business, they realised they’re as much in the food and beverage business, as they are in the film business.

When they regarded themselves as being purely about film watching, that was pretty much all you got when you went to the cinema. Perhaps a lady with a tray around her shoulders would sell an ice cream during the interval but that was about it.

Now that cinemas have understood that they’re also in the hospitality industry, every cinema invariably serves up an array of food and drinks for customers to purchase before they go into the cinema. It’s no longer necessary to visit other shops to buy foods before a trip to the cinema.

Indeed, some cinemas, such as the Screen on the Green in Islington, or Kino-Teatr in St Leonards on Sea at Hastings have gone even further. They’ve transformed the experience inside the cinema too. There is a bar area as you enter the auditorium, and instead of the traditional rows of uncomfortable seats, you get roomy armchair type seating and even a little table or holders on the armchairs for your drinks. The experience is more like a bar restaurant.

By enhancing the customer experience inside the cinema, and carefully choosing the food and beverages to serve up, these cinemas have created revenue streams that did not previously exist, and in fact, far exceed the amount they receive from ticket sales.

 

The Railroads

The classic example that is given when people are talking about this topic of what business are you really in is the railroads. When Ford invented the car, the railroads saw themselves as being in the railway business. So, they didn’t respond or react. Had they perceived themselves as being in the transportation business they might have dealt with the competition that cars presented in different ways. Perhaps they may have purchased some or all the cars Ford had produced and become a major player in the emerging automotive industry.

Clearly, it makes sense to ask yourself the question ‘what business am I really in’. This is the way to ensure you adapt to the changing world and stay relevant to what customers are really wanting when they buy your products and services.

The businesses that best understand the customer and create solutions that the customer wants to buy are the ones that ultimately win.

Failing to understand the customer’s needs and wants in order to respond appropriately might sometimes mean a business is acting like the frog that gets boiled to death when it’s sitting in a pan of cold water that’s gradually heated up. That same frog would have leaped out if you had put it into a pan of boiling water.

In part two of this piece, I’m going to look at what could happen if you fail to pay attention to this question and act like a frog sitting in a pan of water that’s gradually heating up.

Subscribe to my Youtube channel below!

Is a Brand Intellectual Property? Definition of Brand and Intellectual Property

brand and intellectual propertyPeople often ask the question, what is a brand, or what is intellectual property, and is a brand intellectual property. Before I answer that question let’s look at what the terms mean.

A good starting point to understanding what brand and branding mean is to note the word’s origins. It started as a term to describe the identifying mark that was burned on livestock with a branding iron. That was how people could tell who owned the cattle.

Although the concept of branding has its roots in this visual imagery it’s important to appreciate that branding has moved on considerably since those times. While the visual identity matters, of course, branding is nowadays about so much more than a logo, or visual designs.  The visual identity is the final stage of branding not the first.

The Design of Your Business is Key

Branding nowadays is much more about the way you design your business than the designs you get for your business to use.

Even small businesses will have a brand. It’s not necessary to be a household name or a large business for “brand” to be relevant to you.

That’s because if you think about it, the big brands we all know and use, are all known for something specific.  Every single business, charity or entity can be said to have a ‘brand’ in the sense that they all have an identity rather like you or I have an identity as people.

We have a name, a way of dressing, talking, and walking and subjects we are known for or topics that we tend to talk about.

We have beliefs and opinions, and a certain personality. In short, we’re known for something.  People have a certain response to us or think of us in a certain way. So, anyone alive has an identity. The world can tell one person apart from another because of these differences between them.

In the same way, businesses also have an identity – a brand.

A company is a separate person in the eyes of the law. Even if you’re a sole trader your business identity will be an extension of you, but it will be separately identified, often under a trading name.

What you say, how you operate and so on reflects how you come across to others as a business and brand.  So, every business has a brand whether they know it or not. Every business has an identity and personality and as such has a brand.

Branding Process

The branding process involves thinking through how to create a good business that’s reliable and known for delivering on a specific promise. As the brand acquires pulling power, it will attract customers who positively want to do business with it rather than with the competition. The brand a business establishes gradually also attracts employees, suppliers and, ultimately, investors.

Think about the associations you have when considering successful brands such as Ikea or Apple. Notice how these names are known for delivering what is often an unspoken promise. In Ikea’s case, we expect to find affordable self-assembly furniture when visiting its stores. When we buy Apple products, we expect to get something that’s well designed, intuitive and easy to use.

Every brand has its own distinct ‘identity’ and ‘promise’. It’s due to this promise that we know to expect something completely different if we buy a Rolex watch rather than a Swatch.

You will need to think through how you want your business to be known. What quality or outcome will you want to deliver consistently and reliably? How will customers know what to expect if they use your product or service so that there’s little risk of an unpleasant surprise? Buying a product or service from a business whose brand is not yet known is risky because it represents something untried and untested.

Once a business becomes a recognised brand in its marketplace, it can command a price premium or a market premium. People are willing to pay a premium to receive the expected results the brand is known for delivering.

This applies even if the promise of the brand is based on price. For example, people may still prefer to shop at Ikea rather than at an unknown shop that offers even cheaper prices, because they have certain reassurances regarding product quality and the shopping experience they can expect at Ikea.

 

Shopping at Ikea Carries Little Risk

They won’t have this comfort and recognition if they use an unknown seller. Shopping at Ikea carries little risk because Ikea is a brand which means that customers know what to expect from it.

A brand is primarily about substance rather than surface visual imagery.  Indeed, nowadays even employed individuals and business owners need to consider their personal branding in terms of what they want to be known for.

Once you have worked out how you want to be known and sorted out your branding, get some designs to help support the overall impression and feelings you want your brand to evoke and convey.

If you don’t create a successful business that meets a market need, then no amount of ‘visual identity branding’ will turn your business into a brand.

My online course More Than Brand, helps you work through your branding including the intellectual property aspects of branding. You can even use it to work on your personal brand.

 

Intellectual Property

So, turning now to a definition of intellectual property, while I usually attempt to directly answer the question by defining intellectual property, I’ve realised it’s the wrong question.

Defining intellectual property doesn’t give people any greater clarity about what they’re supposed to do about intellectual property. What’ lies behind the question, “What is intellectual property?” is more important to understand here.

The real question is whether Intellectual Property is relevant to a business, and if so why? What should they do about it?

I suggest you think of Intellectual Property as something you need to address in your business because it’s the FIRST consideration any business needs to be mindful of when starting up or developing your ideas.

Contrary to popular belief Intellectual Property (“IP”) isn’t just something you deal with once you’ve succeeded and gained traction. Think of IP as risk management and taking advantage of opportunities.

IP is complex, but you don’t need to learn all its ins and outs. Instead, you just need to put in place some processes in your business to manage the risks and to make sure you don’t lose opportunities.

If you don’t cover off intellectual property, you run various risks such as:

  • of not owning the rights to that app or software, or to your website functionality, which your business could have otherwise exploited to generate extra revenues,
  • finding that the name you’re using infringes on someone else’s rights and is a liability rather than the asset it should be.
  • discovering that your invention can’t be patented because you mentioned it on your website,
  • not having rights to the data that was collected on your behalf by someone who is helping you to set up a networking group.
  • not owning the copyright in your own logo so that you can’t easily take action against someone who is misusing your logo.
  • discovering you are liable for infringing copyright in images or content on your website which your web designer is responsible for.

The value in your business in the digital economy lies in such intangibles.  Intellectual property is what you need to address to protect your business.

Find out about the Legally Branded Academy as people’s understanding of what “protection” involves is quite misconceived and gives rise to the typical mistake businesses make when starting new projects

Your brand is one of the most valuable intellectual property assets your business could own. However, you should take the right actions when choosing it as the very choice itself is how you protect the brand and ensure it has a name that’s suited to its business plans.  The name should be chosen in consultation with an expert brand lawyer and should be protected along with other brand elements.

Legally Branded Academy Course

In the revised Legally Branded Academy course that will be launched later this year, I’ve identified more than 15 processes that a business should introduce to manage intellectual property risks and opportunities such as the example scenarios outlined above.

It is an excellent way to train team members in the essentials they need to know about intellectual property, so they don’t unknowingly take actions that infringe on the IP rights of others.

So, for example, one of those processes involves using a specific template before engaging someone to do work for your business. By always following that process you ensure you secure intellectual property rights in assets being created for you, and in doing so you take significant action to protect your business.

The course isn’t about replacing lawyers. It’s about managing an organisation’s risks in those very early stages when people tend to make some drastic mistakes. Those mistakes happen because people wouldn’t even think of consulting a lawyer so early on.

So Legally Branded Academy Revised is a business process and risk management course.

As intellectual property concepts apply pretty much universally the world over, thanks to various important treaties signed between countries, the Legally Branded Academy is relevant no matter which country you’re located in.

If you want to protect your business now would be a good time to invest in Legally Branded Academy as the price is going to double later this year. Buy it now and get access at the more affordable price it’s currently sold for.

Brand Planning

Brand Planning – A Lesson Learned From A Golden Bear

Brand PlanningFor companies, brand planning is an important aspect in brand execution. As far as we know, the best brands are also the best planned brands including the legal side. In a recent turn of events Lindt, the Swiss chocolatier, has emerged victorious in a long-standing battle with Haribo, the German confectionary company that has been attempting to stop Lindt from selling gold chocolate bears since 2012.  According to an article published in the Guardian, Haribo had won the first round of the battle, when a German court banned future sales of the Lindt chocolate bears in December 2012. That ruling, however, has since been overturned on appeal, noting that there was no likelihood of confusion between the two products.

Interestingly, Lindt had lost its fight against German chocolatiers, Confiserie Riegelein, which was producing similar chocolate bunnies. One might say what-goes-around-comes-around when it comes to trademarks and confectionary sweet companies, however, Haribo is likely to be bitter about this ruling.

The point in case was that, according to Haribo, the chocolate bear wrapped in gold foil accompanied with a red ribbon was an appropriation of Haribo’s Goldbären brand and to that effect, the chocolate bear was consolidating a market position on the back of investment and brand awareness built by Haribo. Lindt, on the other hand, argued that the golden bear had been a variation of the golden eastern bunny chocolate and not an illegal imitation of the golden gummy bear or its corresponding logo.

Brands And Competition

Not long ago we wrote about Nestlé being blocked by rival competitor Cadbury’s in our post on: 3D Trademarks & Registered Designs – KitKat Loses Legal Fight for Four-Finger Chocolate bar.

What is easy to take from this is that where industries are particularly competitive, such as in confectionary food industry, it is a brand’s distinctiveness and the awareness surrounding that brand which allows it to survive on a global level. This is where brand planning comes in handy to assure that you know where your brand is heading, legally.

As a lawyer said “The cost of these cases is significant, but it’s about being seen to take action and ringfencing your brand and intellectual property rights as much as you can.”

This is important because trademarks are increasingly relevant in today’s digital economy, as the advent of the internet and development of internet based technologies has opened trade channels on a truly global level not seen before. Trademarks offer the most powerful forms of intellectual property (IP) protection for any brand logo or name and therefore, it is imperative that a certain amount of consideration is paid to trademarks as part of any business strategy.

Below are some trademark considerations from International Trade Mark Association (INTA) for you to bear in mind.

The Portfolio

Every business will have a trademark portfolio. This will comprise of everything from registered trademarks, marks or symbols which are in use but not yet registered, acquired trademarks through licenses, co-branding agreements with other companies and also domain names which include the trade name or trademark within it. Creating a family of trademarks and trade names will help create a stronger brand but can also strengthen the protection afforded that brand.

Brand Planning And Management

Securing rights as early as possible is always highly recommended. On that note, it is important to budget accordingly because registering a trademark in every country around the world can be both expensive and also impractical for a small-to-medium enterprises (SME) or early stage businesses. The strategy is to carefully consider which jurisdictions from a sales and marketing prospective are key to your business, conduct the necessary availability searches and register a trademark to perfect your brand in that territory as soon as it is practically possible.

An important note in managing your trademarks is also ensuring that they are used, or you risk them being revoked.

Enforcement 

Keeping on top of a trademark portfolio does not mean just registering them. To increase and maximize the value in a trademark, a certain amount of maintenance is involved. This includes actively monitoring the use of your mark and actively policing your trademark with cease and desist and take down notices when you see that it is being used without authorization. A good way to police you trademark is to monitor competitor activities and trademark applications which are published in trademark journals. To do this, you may want to invest in a brand watch service which can help protect your trademarks in the most efficient way possible by bringing to attention any issues that arise as they come.

Given the online nature of most business, a good way to enforce your rights in your domain names is to make sure that you have a registered trademark and that name is contained in your domain name.

Azrights has helped many SMEs and ambitious entrepreneurs to help secure their rights, commercialize their brands and enforce their IP rights. Visit our trademark registration, trademark search, trademark disputes and brand protection services pages to see how we may help to implement an efficient and cost effective strategy for you. Alternatively, contact us and speak with one of our specialist team members to see how we can help in your brand planning.

Brand Identity

Brand Identity – 3 Trademark Lessons From The Beer And Microbrewery Industries

Brand IdentityBrand identity is an essential component of any business. Put simply, the name of your brand is the first point of communication for your business to your target market. It is a vehicle for the associations related to your product, service, reputation, quality, value, or perceived value, and so on.

The UK beer market has seen a considerable rise in trademark applications. According to an article published by the Telegraph, trademark registrations in the UK rose by 12% or 1,485 in 2014, as outlets have increasingly sought to stock craft and artisanal beers, said City law firm RPC.

Brand Naming In Overcrowded Markets

The difficulty with niche industries is that once they start to become overcrowded, you soon find yourself hard pressed at finding suitable names for your products that don’t overlap and infringe on the rights of others. This is because the more niche a market is, the more finite the descriptive naming options become. Consequently, it becomes harder to think of a name which hasn’t already been used.

For example the term ‘Hells’, derivative of the German of ‘Helles’, is a generic description for a light lager. So, Camden Town, who registered the trademark ‘Hells Lager’, prevented another brewery, Redwell, from selling under the same name. They also claimed exclusive rights in the word ‘Camden’ for bee, and prevented another London based brewer, Weird Beard Brewery Co, from using ‘Camden BeardD’.

The sticking point is that in such homogeneous markets, brand identity plays just as important a role as the taste or quality of the product. According to new reports, figures show that an estimated 3 new microbreweries open every week, whilst 30 pubs per week are closing. In these market conditions. The rat race for market dominance becomes a battle of the brands.

Brand Identity Lessons For Entrepreneurs

Most industries are relatively overcrowded, and this is largely because of the prolific use of the internet which has allowed us global access to virtually any product and service we can enter into a search engine. Getting into the game can therefore be quite daunting, and even full on intimidating. Here are a few tips on establishing your brand identity according to Entrepreneur.com:

  1. Know Your Market And Pre-Empt Your Competitors 

Whilst it seems pretty straightforward, knowing your industry is not something which all take into full consideration. Take the above example with ‘Hells Lager’. Understanding an industry requires frequent stock taking and closely studying your competitors. It also means collecting this data and analyzing your business periodically against it to figure out what works and what does not. For example, which Intellectual Property (IP) assets are building more goodwill and which ones are not? Only in this way can you hope to build a brand identity strategy that works for your product or service, and you can keep one step ahead of your competitors, as opposed to infringing on their rights.

  1. Do Your Research And Trademark As Soon As Possible

The value of trademark searches and early trademark registration cannot be stressed enough. At the very least it saves you immeasurable time, money, and effort spent on trying to defend an opposition later down the line, and at best it can save you from a crippling rebranding or an expensive lawsuit.

  1. Collaborate And Co-Exist

Not all conflicts have to be a win-lose scenario. Most people are non-confrontational and do not want to engage in expensive legal fights. There might be scope for collaboration or registration of your trademark rights whereby you can come to mutual understanding as to the scope of use of the mark and create revenue together, or separately, without the anxiety that your brand might get shut down. Then you will have to get back to the drawing board.

Azrights deals with a plethora of different businesses on a daily basis. We can help with your business name search and offer our opinion, help you understand your most valuable IP assets through our Intelli IP audit services and ultimately help you protect your brands through trademark registration. Get in touch with us if you have any questions about starting up in your industry.