Tag Archives: brand

Brands Grow

How Brands Grow – A book by Byron Sharp

Brands GrowBack in 2011 when I began writing my book Legally Branded I realised that despite spending years focused on brand protection, I didn’t really know what the word ‘brand’ meant and what was involved to create one.

Having joined BNI soon after starting my business in 2006 I kept hearing the designer in the chapter referring to how everything you do is your brand, or that it was important to stand out. Intrigued, I had become a client of the agency and undergone “branding”. Yet here I was a few years later unsure what ‘brand’ meant. I asked a group of entrepreneurs in a Facebook group what they understood by the word, and got a host of different responses. I also sought out definitions in respected textbooks.

Over the years, I’ve read many books on branding and heard many people refer to it. The word is bandied around quite a lot, and yet most people are largely unaware of what it actually means.

A brand is actually one of the most valuable intellectual property rights a successful business can have. In fact, most business assets such as the brand are largely digital and intangible in the 21st century. Much of the work that a creative agency does when “branding” a business involves creating intellectual property assets which the business should own. However, unless there is the right written agreement between an agency and its clients the client will not own the IP assets.

It makes sense that a 21st century approach to branding should be an IP led activity so a lawyer can, among other things, ensure the agreement with the design agency protects the client. Brand creation should not be a design led activity.

I’ve decided to write a book on the subject, but I don’t want to just add to the noise around brand and branding. I want to discover what really moves the needle in branding, so that my book can truly enlighten readers and act as a guide for them. My starting point for this, has been Byron Sharp’s research, which is all about evidence-based marketing, as detailed in his book  How Brands Grow.

 

Scientific discoveries

The result of research conducted by Byron Sharp and his team with the world’s top brands at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, University of South Australia indicates that our existing preconceptions about increasing the loyalty to our brands is misguided. He found that all brands have a lot of buyers who only buy them infrequently. Even the Apples and Harley Davidsons have a lot of light users who buy other brands more than they buy them.

Those brands with a smaller market share have less market share, largely because fewer people know about them to buy them. The people who do buy them are less loyal and buy them less often. They devote less of their whole category buying to them. Consequently, the brand has fewer loyal customers.

The normal assumptions are that niche brands have a very loyal customer base, albeit small.  However, it seems from the research that you can’t grow by selling to your existing customer base. You need to find new customers.

I’m still working out how to apply the research to service businesses, but the implication seems to be that branding is terribly important – not for building deep emotional connections with consumers, as is generally thought, but in the battle for attention. Consumers are very busy with other things, which is why they don’t fall in love with brands. They’re very happy to be loyal to a repertoire of brands. Even heavy category buyers don’t buy all the brands that are on the market. They keep returning to some favourites. They’re happy to be loyal. To do that they have to recognise the brand, notice the brand. The key in other words, is that brand has to be present wherever the consumer is looking to buy.

 

Implications for Branding

The implications of these fundamental scientific discoveries and findings about what marketing works are huge.

Another book that has emerged from that institute is Building Distinctive Brand Assets by Jenni Romaniuk, and the combination of the two books blows away some of the big myths in marketing.

My conclusion from the books, and what my own TUNED framework stresses, is that branding is largely about setting yourself apart. You need to look like you, not looking like your competitors.

If you can do that you can build a loyal customer base. You don’t have to get people to fall in love with your brand. You just need to get into your consumers’ heads.

Subway is an example Byron Sharp gives of a brand that has managed to get our collective attention.  Sandwiches are a big category. There was no branded sandwich before Subway. Subway came up with a brand that has got into everyone’s heads. People know they can get sandwiches there. It’s not built the business on the quality of its sandwiches.

The battle for mental availability is a hard barrier to push through.

The Subway name is a good one because it’s distinctive and that is another reason why the brand has been able to stick in our minds. The company didn’t try to use a name like Big Sandwich to describe its sandwich, which is just a quick example of some of the less distinctive naming approaches that might have the benefit of communicating what you you’re all about, but don’t help you to truly stand out longer term. Descriptive names that are not truly inventive can simply make a brand generic, and therefore blend in among all their competitors.

All Brands Face the Same Challenges

All brands are smaller than they want to be, so they face the same challenges. A new brand has the challenge to implant memory structures, to build mental availability amongst a big population of potential buyers.

The real advantage that big brands have, is that their mental availability overlaps with their physical availability. What that means is that any store they’re in, that physical availability works harder because anyone who comes into the store is more likely to notice the brand. The brand is in their head as well. It means the brand’s marketing works more effectively because anyone they reach with their advertising also shops in places where they are present. So, this creates a virtuous circle.

The bigger you get the more your mental and physical availability overlap so that everything works better for you and you’re more visible.

A small brand has to build mental and physical availability. Sharp suggests focusing on getting the mental and physical availability to overlap.  Consumers are in all channels so if you’re only in one channel you’re going to be smaller, and your advertising isn’t going to work so well because it benefits some people but not others who predominantly go to other channels. These challenges are exactly the same for all brands, but for a small brand it looms larger due to its lesser resources.

However, all brands start out small. Some manage to make the transition to being big.

 

What it Means for B2B Brands

For B2B businesses the takeaway message from this is to be present on all social media platforms, even if you double down on one or two more than on others. The notion that you don’t need to be on all the platforms is misguided in my view.

If you’re a new brand, the challenge of building a customer base is really stark. According to Byron Sharp the danger is that small brands fall for old marketing myths that if they start really small hopefully, they’ll go viral – that if they focus on people who really love them, they will somehow magically infect all the other people. In his view this is wishful thinking.

How brands grow is about how buyers buy, and how brands compete. What is branding hasn’t changed. Brands are constantly competing head on. That makes marketing and branding very important. You can’t build mental availability and get into people’s heads without a brand.

However, the emphasis needs to be less on creating “meaningful” brands and typefaces and other issues that people currently focus on. What matters is the distinctiveness of your brand so that people realise who you are, and that they’re not seeing someone else. One of his conclusions is that branding is largely meaning free.

We use brands to simplify our lives. To be a little box so we store memories. McDonalds has done amazingly well to get into people’s minds. We all know what they sell. There are millions of cafes where we don’t know what they serve.

One implication from this, in my view, is that lawyers need to work alongside branding agencies to advise on what can be protected, because there is no point placing a huge emphasis on a branding element that you can’t uniquely own.  Instead, you need to make sure you’re creating distinctive brand assets that are ownable. If the distinctiveness can’t be protected then the brand isn’t going to be able to prevent competitors copying.

 

The New Era of Marketing

From books like Building Distinctive Brand Assets by Jenni Romaniuk it is clear that the new era of marketing will emphasise distinctive assets and will be guided by this insight in the branding process.

Tropicana is an example of a brand that didn’t understand what made it distinctive, how they featured in people’s minds. They decided to make their packaging more premium, and in the process took the orange off the pack. Sales dropped dramatically.

Sharp and Romaniuk point out that consistency is very important in branding. So, a rebrand is risky. It’s a bit like starting again. Their advice is to do careful research before making a change to avoid disaster like the Tropicana experience.  Use the research to give the creative team a framework within which to be creative.

Marlboro cigarettes were unsuccessful with their brand which at one time targeted women. So that was a good reason to rebrand, to search for something better that might work. They started again, and that led to the hugely successful Marlboro brand using a Cowboy.

Sharp and Romaniuk suggest it’s hard to think of a brand where you’re succeeding and would make a change. Unless there are overwhelming reasons to change things stick with your existing branding and if you must make changes then do some research first to work out which assets are distinctive in order to understand what you can and can’t touch in any brand refresh.

For new brands who do not yet have distinctive assets it’s worth thinking about the future at the start to decide what assets to create and build recognition for. This is where being informed by intellectual property law would really help.

People often focus on consistently using the same colours in order to stand out and be memorable. However, Romaniuk’s research found that colour was not such a recognisable asset for brands. And for most practical purposes it’s safe to say you can’t own a colour trade mark either. It would take a lot of time and a huge marketing budget to reach people’s consciousness with your brand colours such that you could claim rights over a colour on its own.

Careful thought will need to be given to such issues in branding, and this will be one of the focal points of my book, focusing on elements that can be uniquely owned, and can’t very easily be copied by competitors.

For branding that will really move the needle for you, it’s vital to have a distinctive name. Register for my upcoming webinar to learn more about how to approach naming or rebranding your business.

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How Not To Brand Your Business

How Not to Brand Your Business in the 21st century

How Not To Brand Your BusinessThe internet has radically changed the rules for most industries, be it news, music, PR, retail or any other you may care to think about. That’s not surprising given the rapid pace of technological development the internet has spawned. Society as a whole is being transformed radically, especially in the wake of the Coronavirus.

And yet many industries are plodding along much as they did in the 20th century, that is, if they can get away with carrying on as usual. They are adapting somewhat slowly to the shifts in the world that the digital landscape entails.

 

Lack of awareness of IP

In the years I’ve been supporting businesses with their trade mark and brand related needs at Azrights, I’ve been struck by the widespread lack of awareness about intellectual property (IP).

In today’s world where most assets of a business are creations of the mind – intangibles – that are governed by intellectual property laws, it is striking that people create businesses without first taking advice on IP laws.

It’s like not bothering to get any legal help when opening a physical shop or taking on an office lease.

The problem is that while everyone understands there are legal implications in the actions they take in their businesses which have real world signs, they’re largely unaware that actions such as choosing a name, or an image, or developing an idea have legal consequences, and therefore that  IP is intrinsically relevant to their projects.

The core 3 IP rights of copyright, trade marks and confidentiality are relevant to every single business. Every founder needs a basic grasp of IP in the 21st century.

Even if people are aware of IP, they’re often not aware of the need to take it into account at the right time, which is at the start of projects or new campaigns. This can cause serious problems for some businesses.

People know that tangible property like land requires professional searches and a buying process before developing the land. However, they don’t appreciate that IP such as names or logos or websites are also property so that their ownership needs to be addressed first.

People commonly assume that protection of IP is something you can safely leave till your business has taken off and is wildly successful, or at least until you have something worth protecting. This is possibly how the assumption has arisen in the world of branding that protection comes after branding and visual identity creation, rather than before.

This notion that IP comes last is completely misguided, and inappropriate in the 21st century when the assets of most businesses are largely comprised of intangibles.

The fact that the internet makes business global, and visible means that IP actions we take are out there for all to see, and if we’re infringing on someone else’s rights, it’s likely to be found out in a way which just didn’t happen pre internet, and in the days when there were fewer businesses out there.

Think of IP such as a brand name as you would a plot of land that you are going to develop. While with physical property you might understand how to assess its quality, and suitability for your purposes, with intangibles like names, you may not realise that the same considerations apply as with land, that it’s possible for an experienced trade mark lawyer to conduct searches, and advise on the suitability of a name for the brand you are intending to build.

 

Brand names

Whether people choose their brand name themselves or have help from a service provider during branding, one common mistake is to use non-distinctive names that are difficult to protect. The purpose of a name and its role in business is to stand out and protect you against competitor actions that very likely to arise if your business succeeds.

IP is how you protect yourself against various realities of business life, such as copying, and trying to steal market share from those who are successful. When choosing names, people are purely focused on whether their name communicates what it is that the business offers, what services it carries out and the like.

If you want to communicate what the business does then unless you can do it in a very clever way, you would do better to use the tagline for that purpose, rather than the name itself.

Clubcard which I’ve previously highlighted such as in the first episode of the Brand Tuned podcast, is an example of a non-distinctive name. It was developed for Tesco’s loyalty card scheme. The name proved not to be a good container of the value the business generates.

Tesco spent millions promoting the Clubcard name, only to discover it couldn’t be secured as a word trade mark for loyalty card schemes. When a word is deemed insufficiently distinctive to function as a trade mark, it means everyone else can also call their loyalty card schemes Clubcard in this example. Effectively Tesco wasted their marketing budget developing recognition in a generic term that is freely usable by its competitors.

The Tesco example illustrates what happens all too often when brand creation is separated from brand protection.

Agencies that provide naming services tend not to involve lawyers in the project. They create the name, and leave the final stage, that is the trade mark clearance searches and registration for the client to address themselves with their own lawyers. That approach comes fraught with problems – for one thing it relegates a very minor role to the lawyer, who is the most experienced in trade marks and names.

Also, it means that a trade mark lawyer is never consulted on the name because most businesses don’t have a trade mark lawyer on their team, whereas they will have a general business lawyer they will likely turn to for help. Their general commercial lawyers are not experts in names but can search the trade mark registers. However, their lack of experience in trade marks means they won’t be able to advise on the international dimension and on the suitability of the name for the client’s long term plans. They also won’t always be able to identify names that can’t function as a trade mark.

The upshot is that the client does not receive the best advice on one of the most important assets their business will use and build value around.  This can have serious consequences for the business in terms of the revenues it generates and its ability to protect itself against competitors.

Branding agencies really should bring the right expertise on board upfront during the branding process. At the very least they should bear a small portion of the legal fees out of their own budgets if they are offering a naming service even if their client doesn’t want to incur the extra cost of legal fees.

Leaving the legal dimension till the end in the way it’s currently done in the industry means it can be too late for lawyers to impact the choice of name and advise on how to make the name more distinctive for the business. Ultimately the client loses out because if the name or other assets are weak or can’t be readily defended or extended to other countries, the client’s business suffers. It will have a limit on its revenues.

A search and opinion on a name is not a big expense, and could easily be absorbed in the budget of the agency itself, because it’s an intrinsic part of identifying a name to ensure it’s fit for purpose. How can you do that if you don’t have any legal input for the agency itself?

Silo approach

This silo approach in branding whereby brand creation and brand protection are separated doesn’t give founders the best outcome from their branding ventures. To choose brand elements like names that stand out should involve people who understand IP, that is lawyers experienced in copyright and trade marks, who “get” branding and know what the creatives are trying to accomplish.

Clients need to understand the pros and cons of using a particular name before adopting it. At its most basic, if a name is incapable of being owned or would be very difficult to defend, you would be building your business on weak foundations to use it.

I firmly believe that an inter-disciplinary approach to brand creation is essential when a new brand is being designed for small businesses because they will be largely unaware of the significance of IP.

In many ways, IP is all about the inner workings of a business. Discussing the details of IP, can be the equivalent of trying to interest a car driver in how their car engine works. They just want to drive the car they don’t want to learn about the engine.

Agencies providing naming services would be doing their clients a huge favour to find a way to involve lawyers in the branding process. There is a lot more value that the right lawyer can add to the branding project than trade mark availability searches. They can advise on names, and also on how to create other distinctive brand assets for the business to consistently use. For example, colour tends to be emphasised a lot, but it’s not easily protectable. Perhaps the business would do well to develop other assets and focus more on consistently using those on social media and the like, rather than this emphasis they place on colour.

It presents a serious risk to the client if the agency hasn’t at the least had a lawyer conduct searches on the final name the client adopts. It’s like giving someone a dodgy car to drive and telling them to check with their own mechanics that the engine is in good working order.

As clients are unaware of the significance of IP they might well assume the name is good to go, and that the agency is being over cautious in counselling them to consult lawyers. Many of them can and do simply start using the name without consulting a lawyer, so if the agency hasn’t conducted trade mark searches on the name then it really is a defective name they’re potentially giving the client to use.

Company, domain and google checks are simply not enough. There are a host of reasons why a name would not show up in these checks. For example, it might be a product name that’s sold offline. Or someone may have registered the name while they get ready to launch their new business. So, it’s fraught with risk for agencies to offer naming services without doing what’s known as an identical trade mark search on the name themselves before handing it over to their client.

Otherwise they could be laying themselves open to litigation, and it’s not doing the best for the client. By all means further searching and registration can be left to the client, but handing over a name that hasn’t had the most basic trade mark clearance checks is untenable, even if the agency warns the client that they should have their own legal checks to protect the name.

So, I strongly advise agencies to get some identical legal searching in place for names they select for clients and to pay for the checks out of their own budgets. It doesn’t need to be a large expense, but it’s essential to have done these checks before warning the client to run their own checks.

One option is for creatives to learn to do their own trade mark searches, which involves also learning how to find the right trade mark classifications in which to search. I have an online course that teaches all that. It’s an introduction to IP. So, if agencies dealt with their own searches, that could be a way for them to hand over a name more safely to their clients, and they wouldn’t then need to bear the cost of legal searching out of their own budgets unless it was a particularly complex search in which case they could then take advice on an ad hoc basis.

 

Skillset of Creatives Does not extend to IP

What clients of branding agencies don’t realise is that even if designers or creatives regularly choose names, they are not experienced in IP and trade mark law. It’s not their skillset. IP and trade marks are complex.

Designers and creatives who create intellectual property for their clients don’t know what is involved to protect the brand, while trade mark lawyers don’t get involved in brand creation and wouldn’t know what’s involved to create a brand anyway.

The two worlds are completely separate. There is a huge gulf between them.

The fact that the two disciplines are so far apart is going to be increasingly untenable as we move further into the 21st century.

I reckon agencies will increasingly see the need to combine both skillsets so that their clients can end up with a stand out brand, using an ownable name and other distinctive assets. The brand name is, after all, a hugely important choice and using the right lawyer on their team means they get a lot more than just trade mark register searching.

The fact that brand creation is a design led activity is a hangover from the 20th century. When the assets of businesses are largely comprised of IP, they will soon realise that brand creation needs to be an IP led activity.

 

Combining Both Disciplines

As a business owner and trade mark solicitor dealing with all things brand related, I became keenly interested in marketing and branding a number of years ago.

Even before I began writing my first book Legally Branded in 2011, I was reading a lot of business books on marketing, branding, sales, websites, digital marketing, content marketing, customer service, and more. I’m a real bookaholic, buying more books than I ever have time to read. Sometimes I’ll read a book I bought a few years back and all in all I get through a lot of books. I also attend courses and masterminds to develop my skills, and generally think a lot about branding, and marketing.

The main benefit from all this learning is that I’ve improved my own skills in running my business, and I’m now writing my third book, which is all about branding.

While in the past I used to refer my clients to branding agencies if they needed a name, now, having  witnessed the numerous problems businesses have around their names, whether they choose the name themselves or get help from a service provider, I have decided to offer a naming service ourselves.

I can do this because I’ve developed this unusual combination of skills that brings brand creation and brand protection together. Being able to advise small businesses in an inter-disciplinary way is more affordable for the client.

Our Brand Tuned product enables us to provide essential advice on IP upfront. The fact that we are supporting the client to choose the right name, and to protect it before the visual identity work is undertaken means we can do everything in the right order ensuring clients can build their business on solid foundations and don’t miss out on owning valuable IP rights.

We address the visual identity part of branding by either bringing in the client’s own chosen designer or a partner design agency.

I’m also speaking to agencies to see whether a version of the Brand Tuned product might suit them to offer to their clients when they’re quoting for a branding project. Like that those clients who want it, can benefit from IP expertise during the branding process.

I do hope founders and branding agencies alike will listen to the Brand Tuned podcast where I bring together, business, branding and IP.

Sign up to the series of webinars I’m currently running for businesses as they pivot or fine tune their business, and learn more about how to identify a suitable name for your business

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personal brand

Should You Develop Your Personal Brand?

personal brandWe usually associate brands with companies and products – particularly with big household names like Apple or Microsoft Word. But nowadays, anything can be a brand. Even as an individual, you have a personal brand. How should you deal with that?

Business branding is about creating a comprehensive message for your company and product or service, using names, logos, slogans, copy and other collateral. Branding actively creates the perception you hope consumers will have through coming into contact with your company, product or service.

Personal branding makes some people uncomfortable because it evokes an impression of falseness. If people spend time thinking about how they want to come across, surely that means they are being artificial rather than authentic? They might be too focused on creating the ‘right’ impression rather than just being themselves?

Personal branding is an aspect of the company brand

Personal branding is one small but necessary facet when it comes to constructing a solid and successful company brand. Whilst a CEO is not the poster child for the company, they are a linchpin and direct representative of the business so their personal brand should support the business while being completely authentic to themselves.

The notion that personal branding is for celebrities and major companies, actors, musicians, and athletes, and the big business characters like Steve Jobs is quite wrong. The world has changed. Nowadays we should all build our personal brands. Anyone willing to put in the time, and effort to build their niche can become a ‘thought leader’.

This will attract opportunities for the business they are associated with.

In the 21st century, being a CEO means building a brand that people believe in. That they really care about.

Establishing and promoting what you stand for

‘Personal branding’ is about establishing and then promoting what you stand for. Your personal brand is the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you YOU. Effective personal branding will differentiate you from other professionals in your field.

If you don’t take control of your personal brand you are missing out on opportunities. Founders of businesses are effectively opting to be a faceless organisation if they don’t develop their own separate brand. In a world that wants to know who is behind a brand, where people buy from people, this tendency to hide behind the business brand should be avoided.

It’s a natural tendency because many entrepreneurs are introverts at heart and want to build their businesses. So they wonder why they should focus attention on themselves.

How to tie in a personal brand with the business and whether there is a strong reason to opt for one approach rather than another are common questions many founders wonder about.

Importance of both personal and business brands

Whether the personal brand of the owner of the business is to be the main brand or just a personal brand that sits alongside the business brand doesn’t alter the fact that you need both brands to be out there.

It’s much easier to just have one brand obviously, such as Tony Robbins who is the main brand. Assuming yours is not a Tony Robbins style business, then you should look to entrepreneurs like Elon Musk to see how they use their personal brand.

Elon Musk promotes his personal brand separately to that of his business. Inevitably his brand impacts that of his business even though the business has its own separate identity and name.

The world’s top CEOs construct online brands that embody their business philosophies. Their strategies can be easily applied to any emerging brand leader.

 

Well known personal brands

Take Mark Zuckerberg as an example. He has more than 80 million followers on his Facebook page where he talks about his latest travels, diseases he’s trying to cure and his political opinions such as freedom of speech.

Branson is described on his own Facebook page as “a tie-loathing adventurer, philanthropist and troublemaker, who believes in turning ideas into reality,”

Bill Gates’ philanthropy is a trait that colours his personal branding in a very distinct way. Gates’ commitment to philanthropy is undeniably his brand’s defining trait and one that is reflected in his content, visuals, and social media strategy.

While you want to build a business, you also want your audience to connect to you. You want people to care about your story. A personal brand isn’t about making sales. It’s about connecting with people and getting them to engage with your vision. Your story becomes a part of their story, and vice versa. And when that happens, your personal brand becomes even more powerful.

Your brand isn’t something that just appears as a result of your work in your business. It’s something that you have to actively craft and maintain. That means you have to put the hours into building it.

When you have a personal brand, you become an influencer. People connect to you on an emotional level. That means your emotions can influence theirs.

Building a personal brand is all about creating emotional connections between you and your audience. Always consider the emotional impact of your message before you show it to the world.


Personal vs Business Brand promotion

A question that often comes up for founders is how to build their business and product brand alongside their personal brand if their resources are limited. Which should they prioritise?

Whether you’re building a business to exit, or a lifestyle business in which you will work till you drop, if your resources are limited focus on building your personal brand.

That’s because people buy from people. They prefer to follow people rather than logos. As I pointed out years ago in my book Legally Branded, back in 2012, people’s personal profiles generally have more followers than their business profiles.

If you decide that what you want to do is to build your business name recognition with a view to one day selling the business then it may seem at odds with this aim to focus on building your personal brand. However, that is what you would do well to do. Until you have the resources to maintain two separate profiles independently of one another, then build your personal brand as a priority. A compromise is to set up an account for your business and use it for yourself personally, by making it clear that you’re representing your business. Then you can focus your energies on building your personal brand while still supporting your business.

For example, you would use your own photo rather than your logo. And you would describe yourself, for example, in my case, as Shireen Smith of Azrights. So, you are effectively representing your business brand too.

I used this approach on Twitter for a few years and once I’d built up a following of nearly 5000 I then set up a personal account and announced to my followers that henceforth I would tweet in my personal capacity over at Shireen Smith and that the current account they were following would henceforth be the Azrights business account. I then used a logo instead of a picture of myself for the Azrights profile, and some of the followers followed me on my personal account.

I’m not aiming to create a business to exit so the separate identities I’ve created for my business and personal brand are good enough for me. I put the accent on building my personal brand now while maintaining some presence for the business name. To this day the business account on Twitter has a greater number of followers than my personal account. So, it’s a solid strategy for any platform you’re using to focus your energies in this way and then split out the identities later when you have more resources.

If you have any questions about building your business or personal brand, this is something I am well placed to assist with. Just sign up to the Brand Tuned webinar series to find out more.

 

how. to design your brand

How to Design Your Brand

how. to design your brandThe silo approach to branding whereby creatives produce brand designs and names without any reference to Intellectual Property lawyers, while IP lawyers protect IP that they’ve had no part in advising upon, does not give business the best outcome either from a branding perspective or from an IP one.

The separation between the worlds of branding and IP protection is a hangover from the 20th century and has no place in the fast-paced digital world we now live in, and into which we have been catapulted more completely by the Coronavirus.

A 21st century approach to branding needs to emulate the likes of Google who understand that achieving a strong brand requires an inter-disciplinary approach. They break down the silos in their organisations to enable powerful brand creation.

The small business end of the market is not even aware of the problem that the silo approach entails. The upshot is that founders of businesses undergoing branding get poor value for money.

 

Why I Decided to Develop Expertise in Branding

As a specialist in trademarks and brands, and business owner, I was always highly interested in marketing and branding, so decided to study the subject for myself in order to help clients in a more holistic way.

I have spent many years educating myself, observing, and supporting clients, such that I’m now writing my new book – BrandTuned, How to Perfect, Protect and Promote your Brand. All the subject areas involved to ensure founders get a good outcome are brought together in my TUNED process which stands for:

Think IP First!

Understand your ideal client!

Name it right!

Establish your Brand Strategy!

Driving the brand strategy!

Once clients have been through my TUNED process, they are clear on their business vision, mission and values, and have their positioning and stories ready to establish their brand strategy. They can then achieve the best outcome from their branding, and hence, increase their chances of success in business. It’s then possible to engage the right designer to work with to achieve a stunning visual identity.

The visual dimension is hugely important and you’re much more likely to get a stand-out visual identity if you bring it into focus at the right time, which is after you’ve given your brand some deep thought.

In the 21st century branding is no longer a design-led activity, it is an IP, marketing and business led activity with the visual dimension coming in at the end, not at the beginning.

IP has to be taken on board first and throughout brand creation – it should not be left till the end of the process if you want to create a powerful brand.

 

Symbols

Symbols are how we communicate. For example, the letters T-I-G-E-R are a symbol that an English- speaking individual will understand as a word that evokes a tiger.

Our ability to visually communicate a story depends on the use of the right symbols for the right audience. This might involve the use of new symbols to replace existing ones

Semiotics is all about the person looking at a symbol – what it evokes for them. A symbol that works for one group does not work for another. For example, in Silicon Valley, the hoodie is a symbol of status (being too busy to go shopping) whereas in a different context, such as in East London, a hoodie is a sinister symbol

Air bnb’s new belo logo is a good example of a brand creating a new symbol to evoke its brand.

How to Approach Visual Identity to Get The Best Results

In her book Visual Hammer Laura Ries points out that the role of a brand is to establish a unique or dominant position in the mind of its customers. The book clearly conveys the dynamics of branding, and why it’s so important to start with the brand strategy to get a sense of your story and positioning before turning to visual identity.

The objective of positioning is to put a word or a verbal concept into consumers’ minds. For example, take Volvo. Years ago, when there was an array of cars for consumers to choose between, the company latched onto “safety” as its positioning. That became the verbal nail to use Laura Ries’ words. They then hammered the idea with dramatic television commercials featuring crash tests.

So, the task in branding is to find a way to position what we do that makes it easier for the customer to find what we uniquely provide. Positioning is a service to the customer because it gives them a shorthand way to make their choice. In the car example, by knowing that Volvo stands for safety, customers for whom safety is a key attribute, immediately have a way to identify the right car to buy.

The “position,” that is, your verbal concept, is the nail. The tool that hammers the positioning nail into consumers’ minds is the visual hammer according to Laura Ries.

Visual Hammer is one of those books that makes effective marketing sound like common sense. Its basic idea is that a strong visual will emphasise an effective positioning. However, not any visual will do. You need a “visual hammer” that hammers a verbal nail. The Marlboro cowboy. Coca-Cola’s contour bottle. Corona’s lime.

The cowboy hammers “masculinity.” The contour bottle hammers “authenticity.” The lime hammers “genuine Mexican beer.”

 

Bridging the Brand Gap

During the visual identity stage you’re reassessing whether the positioning idea you’ve arrived at, and your brand stories, are capable of being conveyed with a visual signpost. Is the concept too abstract? Does it need tweaking?

We all have two brains, one verbal and one visual, and the way to bring the two together is through the visual. The visual attracts the attention of the right side of the brain which sends a message to the left side of the brain to read or listen to the words associated with the visual.

If you, as founder of your business make it your business to understand what the challenges are you are more likely to find a designer who can help you achieve the right outcome. But stay involved all the way. Avoid letting your lack of design background exclude you from the process of bridging the gap between strategy and design.

Invariably positioning statements are expressed verbally. The trick is to find a word that can be expressed visually so that you can make an impact in people’s minds.

Not any visual will do though.  You need to be quite clear about what you need the visual to do before you engage a creative team. If you have done your own work to arrive at the best possible verbal positioning ideas, story lines, names and taglines you will have the wherewithal to fuel the visual identity work.

Be ready to adapt the strategy when working with creatives as it’s important to identify a suitable verbal basis for the visual hammer to be created. It sets you at a huge advantage and much more likely to get an effective visual hammer if you’ve thoroughly thought through your brand strategy. A designer can only work their magic if you’re clear about your brand before you engage them.

You stand a chance of creating a visual hammer that’s true to what you stand for when you’ve put the work into your brand. It can’t be achieved in a few weeks or even months. I’d suggest allowing 6 months to a year to deeply think through your brand strategy

 

Emotional appeal

The best way to drive home your positioning is with a visual that has emotional appeal, one that reinforces the verbal positioning concept.

In the noisy world we live in consumers will remember very few positioning slogans. They won’t remember your message. Emotion is the verbal glue that holds some concepts in a consumer’s mind. Visuals have an emotional power that printed words do not.

The designer’s role is to inject emotion, to draw attention to the brand, and to use colour, shapes and icons to help you to stand out among the competition and to be memorable. It’s well worth understanding what the designer is doing though because you can’t assume the designer is conveying the best images. I’d recommend reading Laura Ries’ book.

Conclusion

In conclusion, a brand is a shorthand for the customer’s expectations. What promise do they think you’re making? What do they expect when they buy from you or meet with you or hire you? That promise is what you want to communicate in your positioning, and to ensure that your brand designs communicate in a visceral way.

An icon such as the Airbnb Belo acts as a mental shorthand for the promise that you make, a visual hammer as Laura Ries puts it. Without a brand a logo is meaningless as is a visual hammer, so the two need to combine.

Having clarity about what you stand for, why you’re different and why people want your brand is the way to begin the process.

My gift to you during these challenging times is a way to reinvent and think through your brand during these challenging times so that when we emerge from the Corona Virus crisis, hopefully by mid 2021, your business can soar.

Join the BrandTuned Facebook group where I will be announcing the details of how you can start my TUNED process.

JOIN BrandTuned Facebook Group

Copy Safely

Why It’s Vital To Learn How To Copy Safely in the 21st Century

Copy SafelyEasyJet was embarrassed recently when it came to light that a video by Mr Bellow its chief operating officer copied significantly from a speech made by Taoiseach’s Leo Varadkar to mark St Patrick’s day.  The YouTube video comparing the footage of both men demonstrates just how blatant the copying was.

This brought to mind a common question I’m asked when people are creating content or writing books. How much can you borrow from another work? The EasyJet video is a prime example of what not to do if you want to avoid copyright infringement.

A basic understanding of copyright law is essential to navigating life in the 21st century. It shocks me that a senior level executive is going around without this most basic grasp of the law. I doubt millennials and later generations will get by during their lifetime without such essential skills because it’s part and parcel of digital business life today.

The Coronavirus epidemic will forever change the world. Once organisations learn to manage meetings and events virtually, it’s unlikely we will return to a world of physical meetings at the drop of a hat. It’s going to profoundly change business. In a digital world, you need a grasp of IP laws because they are the legal rules that apply to intangibles.

Entrepreneurial Ventures

More and more people are setting up service-based businesses to run their own show. Typically, people want to escape the corporate worlds in which they acquired their skills. They often see an opportunity to develop a niche and to do something differently to improve the customer experience. They want location independence, to have a decent income to feed their family, and most importantly, they want the freedom to manage their work around their lives.  Many of them are driven by a purpose and need to impact the world in their industry.

The Coronavirus epidemic catapults us into a world where all these objectives are even more within reach, as digital existence becomes the norm.

However, using your knowledge and skills in any entrepreneurial venture invariably involves consultancy, and hence the trap of a time for money existence.

Soon after starting up, it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to experience overwhelm. They find themselves working all hours because getting the work in requires a significant investment in time and money. Then there is the time involved to deliver your services.

So, in practice, sustaining a self-employed lifestyle often results in a drop in one’s income, and a depletion of your resources of time, and money. In practice there is more stress too.

The service-based business model carries these challenges primarily because there is so much competition in the world. There are too many providers offering almost any service. It can be difficult therefore to escape commoditisation.

How do you survive and thrive in this environment?

I’ve learnt a lot about what it takes to succeed in business in the 15 years or so that I have run my own. Many aspects of IP law, such as trade mark registration are completely commoditised with a plethora of providers, many of whom don’t have the necessary skills, but the public doesn’t realise this.

So, I can add a lot of value for entrepreneurs looking to rethink their businesses in the face of this Coronavirus.

Building a Brand

I’ve learnt that to survive in the globalised, overcrowded market today involves building both your personal and your business brand, and it all takes time. You need to be in it for the long term.

Organisations like Dent have come up with solutions to support entrepreneurs in this environment. They offer programs such as Key Person of Influence to teach their clients how to become more influential in their own industries, and how to use their core knowledge and skills more effectively. Entrepreneurs are advised to write a book, to create product type offerings that are outcome focused rather than based on time for money services.

It’s a program that I have personally attended so I know how well it equips you on many fronts. However, what it does not do is to provide you with the necessary depth of information that you need to navigate intellectual property and brand creation.  This is where my BrandTuned offering comes in to fill the gap for so many existing businesses, as well as for startups.

Branding

Branding is about so much more than visual designs. Before you get to the visual identity phase it’s essential in the 21st century that we now live in, to start any venture with intellectual property because IP impacts how you design your business. If you take decisions that are well-informed by IP your business will be far better adapted for the more digital world we’re now entering.

For example, while it may make sense to publish full details of your methodology depending on what you do, it could sometimes be foolhardy to put your best insights into a book for your competitors to freely use and learn from.

There is no copyright in ideas. If Mr Bellow of EasyJet had had this essential understanding of copyright, he could have freely copied every idea from Taoiseach’s Leo Varadkar’s talk, without exposing himself to copyright infringement accusations. In the 21st century, you need to know how to copy safely from the works that inspire you.

Knowing what to give away when publishing content and what to keep to yourself involves a grasp of intellectual property principles. For example, understanding confidentiality and trade secrecy laws is how I have developed a heightened sensitivity to the commercial value of information. IP law will, therefore, provide the necessary guidance you need on this aspect of your knowledge and skills.

And copyright laws come up at every juncture for a business as does naming. Names are a highly complex subject, except most entrepreneurs don’t realise this and therefore make a number of fundamental mistakes.

Brand Names and Trade Marks

“Productising” your skills and knowledge necessarily involves a skilled use of names. Names are how you give your products their own personality. Names are how you stand out and move buyers to purchase your outcomes-based solutions. Without a clear understanding of how trade mark laws impact your choice of names, it’s very easy to go seriously astray when naming your business or products.

One common error people tend to make, is to choose very banal names which deliver little value, or competitive advantage.

Overly descriptive names are weak because they don’t challenge, excite, or mentally stimulate us. They require little imagination. And they reveal nothing about the personality of your brand (other than exposing your lack of creativity). When you draw from a limited pool of descriptive words, you sound like everyone else, making your name blend in with that of your competitors.

It’s possible to register almost any name with the right type of logo, but what is the value in that? You can’t stop others using the same name if the name can’t be registered on its own as a word mark.

So when you don’t take on board the greatest possibility the law gives you to distinguish your offerings from others and to stand out, then it’s no wonder that despite every effort to make sales and succeed people come unstuck due to poor IP design at the start of their projects. The sort of problems that arise from lack of proper attention to IP are very varied and can include being copied in ways people can do little about.

Missing an Opportunity

Designing a business incorrectly also comes about because people don’t give their brands the depth of thinking that’s necessary to their long-term success. They jump in too quickly to have the visual identity created, so that the thinking about their values and purpose, for example, that’s involved in the branding process, doesn’t run as deep as it needs to.

It’s to fill this gap that I decided to write my book, BrandTuned, How to Perfect, Protect, and Promote your Brand. The book will be out in 2021.

In the meantime, I am providing support to help you get clarity around your IP. This will consist entirely of free sessions I will be running via the BrandTuned Facebook group although for those that want to go deeper with their IP, my digital Legally Branded 2.0 course is available to purchase.

BrandTuned Facebook group

We will be running webinars and posting links to some of these resources in the BrandTuned Facebook group, along with other essential guidance to support you to think through your brand during this difficult period we are all living through.

I’m intending to cover how to think through your personal purpose as well as your business purpose, your values, and what you want to stand for. Who is your product for? What is your brand promise? What names are you choosing? We will cover these and more in some question and answer sessions.

I recommend giving yourself 6-8 months to create your brand strategy so you can come out the other end much better placed to get the traction your brand needs as you promote your business more extensively.

In the meantime, whatever you do, don’t stop creating content. Carry on posting your unique perspective on social media because nothing will give you greater clarity than creating regular content.

azrights news

Exciting News at Azrights

azrights newsFor some time I’ve been looking forward to the regulatory changes in the solicitors market that were finally introduced in November 2019. The new regulations support solicitors to provide services through new entities, to work in new ways, and use new technologies. They do away with the overhead costs that are unnecessary for 95% of the work we do at Azrights.

These costs of regulation are high because “reserved activities”, which in our case means court proceedings, may only be undertaken by organisations that are subject to a number of additional controls. Less than 5% of our work constituted reserved activities so it was an easy decision to change the business in light of these new rules. We will no longer offer litigation.

We have been up against non-regulated providers who were freely offering intellectual property services outside solicitors’ law firms without the steep overheads and prohibitive and unnecessarily overburdened costs of regulation that we were subject to.

Had we wanted to compete with them we could have traded through an unregulated entity, but we would have had to give up our practising certificates and act as “non practising solicitors”. We didn’t want to do that.

Impact on Azrights Solicitors

Now, thanks to the new regulations we can minimise our costs and reduce the charges for clients by trading through our separate business, Azrights International Ltd, while still practising as solicitors. We are implementing these changes with effect from 1 April 2020. On 31 March Azrights Solicitors will close.

While Azrights International Ltd will not be a regulated law firm, the only real change forour practice as solicitors is that we will no longer offer litigation services – namely court proceedings.

We have always preferred to focus on helping clients stay out of court and to fare better should they find themselves in court, than to deal with disputes once the client has fallen off a cliff.

It’s exciting therefore to be able to offer wider services, such as support with branding and brand development, business growth, and in-house legal services too.  Our hourly rate will drop significantly to make us much more affordable to clients.

Confused?

If you’re confused by the legal service provider landscape here is a comprehensive survey of the legal industry in this article, which also covers the new permitted providers such as freelance solicitors and solicitors operating through non regulated entities.

We have been ready to make this change for years as regulatory changes were gradually transforming the legal services landscape. The new rules were postponed on several occasions while the details were being sorted, and now they have finally passed into law we are thrilled.

Working through Azrights International Ltd will enable us to expand our non-regulated activities to introduce the innovations that the market needs.

This has always been one of our top values, to innovate in line with market needs. We believe we can add significant value in the intellectual property and branding space.

Separation Between Branding and Intellectual Property

The problems that we see stem from the fact that IP is not well understood, and therefore is treated as separate to branding, even when the activities being engaged are part and parcel of the legal dimension, such as choosing names.

When you are not intimately aware of how IP impacts names, logos, taglines and other brand elements, it can be all too easy to believe that it is appropriate to separate branding activities from IP. Consequently, branding agencies tend to leave IP to their clients to deal with, as IP is perceived to be all about law, and hence not within their remit.

Clients who do not have the benefit of an in-house legal department or expertise in IP, don’t understand IP any better than their “branding” advisers. So, when it’s presented to them as an issue to address with their own legal team during a branding exercise, even when their agency is choosing a new name for them, it’s all too easy for them to assume it is yet another expense that they can postpone.

However, IP is property just like physical property. A name is the equivalent of land. Just as you wouldn’t postpone buying that plot before putting buildings on it, so you should not develop a brand around a name you do not own. That is to gamble with your future business success. IP cannot be postponed till later. That is how serious mistakes and unnecessary costs arise.

IP is an intrinsic aspect of branding and should be one of the first points to address before undergoing any visual identity work.

Therefore, we are introducing BrandTuned to support businesses and agencies.

BrandTuned is a pre-branding, or pre-rebranding solution giving founders and businesses the opportunity to think through their brand and address their IP issues. They can do some serious thinking about their brand so as to be better prepared when they go to an agency or creative for a visual identity..

Using BrandTuned will help every founder and marketing director to emerge with IP that’s properly protected.

The branding actions you take after BrandTuned are likely to lead to a more successful outcome thanks to having already protected your brand, and to the depth of thinking you will have given to your business vision and brand before commissioning a visual identity.

New names really should not be chosen without the involvement of a trade mark expert who also understands the marketing and business side of branding.

That’s why BrandTuned gives founders an opportunity to choose a name, and have it searched and protected.

Business Growth and In-House Legal Services

Invariably growing a business is intrinsically about building the brand. What is less well appreciated is that legal agreements and advice often give the business commercial input and support which will help the business to take the right actions and grow.

We are excited to be introducing an in-house legal service for small businesses and see ways to add real value to clients. We can also support clients to connect with each other, and our integrated brand and marketing solution, BrandTuned will enable clients to fine tune and manage their brand.

Perfecting, protecting and promoting a brand is about so much more than just registering a trade mark or getting a logo.

What’s Next?

We will soon be releasing information about how to access BrandTuned so keep an eye out for news on this by following me on Linkedin

Third Costly Mistake

The Third Costly Mistake People Make When Branding or Rebranding

Third Costly MistakeThe third costly mistake people make is Not having a clear brand strategy before getting a visual brand identity

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, but it should also 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’.

To think through your brand strategy involves deciding how to create a good business that’s reliable and known for delivering on a specific promise. How will your business idea work? Who will buy from you? What promises will you be known for?

Every brand has its own distinct ‘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.

Working out your brand strategy is essential if you want to get your business off to a successful start. Thinking through how you want your business to be known isn’t easy, but this is important work. You need to fine tune your brand strategy before you can be ready to brief designers to give your concept a visual identity.

Consider what quality or outcome 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.

As my first efforts with branding were somewhat unsuccessful, I decided to rebrand a few years ago. This time I knew better than to start off the process by visiting a designer. Instead, I did a lot of introspective thinking, and worked with other professionals to fine tune my brand strategy.

I had to decide what unique angle I was bringing to the market, and how to communicate that message in a way that evoked a response in the minds of customers.

What work was my law firm focusing on? Apart from the fact that we specialised in brand and trademarks, I realised we were very technology and online business focused in everything we did.

Having done my homework and soul searching first, and really considered the business’ mission, values, purpose, and more, I turned to a designer for the visual identity work.

As I had fine-tuned my brand strategy, the rebranding exercise was a great success. We decided to use the tagline, Lawyers for the Digital World. This time the logo was designed to look more IBM like rather than an old fashioned “creative” looking script.

Some of our essential values are encapsulated in our ethos Easy Legal Not Legalese. Another important value is to be forward-thinking and to provide the solutions the market needs. Hence why we’ve developed BrandTuned, a “done with you” style service that combines branding with IP. It ends with designs. We can either do the designs for you using our own creatives, or we give you a design brief that makes it easy for your own chosen designer to translate your brand strategy into visual designs.

brand strategy

Brand Strategy Is Essential For Success In Business 

I recently wrote an extensive piece Brand Strategy Why Every Business Needs One on my personal blog.

Brand strategy is one of the most important issues to deal with if you want to create a business that grows in brand value and delivers more leads and opportunities.

We’re developing a methodology to support our clients to create their brand strategy and it’s important to take a fresh look at what you think “brand” means when considering this piece and the videos here.

Brand, branding, intellectual property, trade mark, business design – these are all very much misunderstood as terms, or people don’t even know what they mean. Yet these are really important issues for a business to take on board whether it’s starting up, scaling or looking to exit.

In the blog post and first video, I explain what is involved in working out your brand strategy.

Don’t assume bigger businesses all have brand strategies because many of them don’t have one – particularly tech companies as they focus all their attention on the product.

Uber is an example of what happens when you don’t have a brand strategy.  While the business is a success and has even reached unicorn status, its lack of attention to brand has caused numerous problems. In the second video, I go into Uber’s case in more depth.

If you want support to craft your brand strategy so as to build brand value, and attract more leads and opportunities then do get in touch. We can help you whether you’re a start up, scale up or a business looking to plan your exit.

Internet Rules – Changes The Rules of Branding

The internet has changed the rules for many industries. In my books Legally Branded and Intellectual Property Revolution, I explained how the internet impacts the intellectual property industry.

Here is how I see it changing the branding industry, at least as regards the branding of service-based businesses.

 

Branding Industry Approach

The branding industry has traditionally left IP to be dealt with by lawyers later once the brand has already been created.

The approach is to design the brand, and then go to lawyers to protect the new brand.  Sometimes the designer even suggests names and then checks them out on Google and on company and domain sites.

The trouble with this approach is that you need to check the name properly whether you are choosing the name for the client or the client has found its own name. Many problems have arisen for businesses that failed to do this fundamental checking. By leaving it to the client to seek out legal advice, it’s potentially setting the client up for difficulties because in many cases people don’t bother to seek protection at all or if they look for help they get it from a business lawyer rather than from a trade mark expert. So the business misses out on important advice.

This approach was viable in a pre-internet world where there were fewer brands and less visibility if you were using a name that belonged to someone else.

Intangible Assets

In an internet environment where virtually all assets of a business are intangibles, it becomes foolhardy to leave IP like trade marks till later. IP plays such a central role in business that it must be the starting point when planning any project or venture.

Some of the intangible assets that businesses own, or which benefit them nowadays are things like data, processes, relationships, networks, culture etc. These may have always existed in the past but now that most assets are intangible, they have taken on greater significance.

Many of these assets don’t neatly fall within the traditional definition of intellectual property – that is, patents, designs, trade marks, copyright, and confidential information.

They are intellectual capital though and you need to understand IP even more deeply to know how best to protect and deploy this newer form of asset within your business.

I use IP here in its widest sense, to refer to all the knowledge and skills a business might use in order to succeed.

 

IP Risks and Opportunities

IP risks and opportunities impact the way you create a brand strategy and design the structure of a business. For this reason, where in the past I would describe myself as an intellectual property lawyer, now I see myself as an Intellectual Property lawyer with a difference. That’s because I integrate IP, brand, and marketing to support startups, scale ups, and those exiting their businesses to design a business that builds in value and attracts more leads and opportunities.

I’ve spent years studying brands and marketing closely. I’ve read hundreds of books, attended dozens of courses, been through a couple of branding exercises and am so interested in the topic that I am a constant student in this area of business.

 

Future trends

I foresee that in future we will see more and more intellectual property lawyers integrating IP, brand, and marketing, to ensure their clients businesses are built for success.

In larger businesses, different departments are currently involved in issues relating to the brand– IT, marketing, PR, design, and legal.  In the future, they will be more multidisciplinary in approach. Every team will involve a trade mark lawyer who “gets” branding and therefore can advise on brand from a legal dimension as well as from a business perspective.

The legal services industry is undergoing fundamental challenges and transformations and will continue to do so in the coming years. Many lawyers will realise that they are in a wider business than their current narrow focus on pure law.

Trade mark lawyers need to focus more on the brand and become the business advisers of choice for organizations that are formulating their brand strategy. They could give so much more value than simply being asked to search names for availability.  But for them to deliver more value involves a sea change in training and education.

One significant advantage these professionals currently have is their depth of understanding of the legal aspects of the brand. As such they are better placed than people from other disciplines such as design or marketing to advise on brand. Many designers and marketers come to branding with no understanding of IP law at all.

While they are suitable for creating the visual identity, or marketing plan, they have a huge learning curve to advise on the IP aspects of branding, which are of central relevance when you’re designing a business.

The methodology I’ve developed to support my clients ensures they choose names that are in line with their positioning and by working with us they have the added benefit of very cost effective IP protection that’s thrown in as part of the work. It requires very little effort to support them on the copyright or to draft an effective trade mark application when you’re working closely with them and understand their business intimately.

Our process also focuses on designing the business correctly to ensure it attracts leads and opportunities as a starting point for working out its positioning and name.

The creation of a visual identity is postponed till much later.

In my new book, I’ll be explaining why I think it’s essential in the new world we live in to separate brand strategy and business identity, from visual identity creation. The two disciplines really should be kept separate.

The word brand and branding is much misused and misunderstood.

The shift that has happened in society due to the internet is being felt in every area of life, and it’s important that businesses understand why their first port of call when looking to brand their business should not be a designer.

Last week I explained in my blog Why is a good name important to a company just how important names are to a company. Do read it to understand this important topic which may seem quite minor but actually plays a central part in the success of a business.