Tag Archives: branding a business

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.

The First Costly Mistake People Make When Branding their Big Idea or Rebranding Their Business

Eureka! You have hit on an idea that you believe is a spectacular business idea.

Or you have joined the league of inventors with one breathtaking invention of your own. You can hardly wait to launch it and let everybody know what they have been missing.

Or maybe you have come up with a winning idea for a new business or product, or you simply have an idea you want to turn into a business.

Whatever the idea, unless you know how to hit the ground running with it, you’re wide open to copycats and thieves and fundamental mistakes.

Many otherwise sophisticated CEOs and corporate managers essentially leave a significant portion of value on the table by failing to develop and execute on a brand strategy directed to capturing and maximizing intangible assets, or intellectual property (IP) to be more precise.

Over the coming weeks I will be releasing 7 blogs to help you to understand how to avoid some of the costliest mistakes people tend to make with their big idea.

The key moments these mistakes happen is when you have a new idea to turn into a business or charity or product etc.

Another common time when you’re susceptible to making serious mistakes is when you’re rebranding an existing business or concept.

To make sure you’re on a strong footing when turning an idea you’re excited about into a business or charity or when rebranding, be sure to check out the blogs so you avoid the 7 mistakes.

 

The First Costly Mistake People Make When Branding their Big Idea or Rebranding Their Business

Is that they don’t start with Intellectual Property.

Thinking about Intellectual Property (IP) the instant you have a new idea or project is the best way to protect an idea. Why? Because ideas alone have no protection under the law.

The fact that you thought of something first, or that an idea is yours means nothing in the world. The minute you reveal your idea anyone may freely use it. Writing down your idea and giving it to someone to hold as proof that you had the idea first does nothing to protect the idea either. Nor does using Non-Disclosure Agreements indiscriminately help much.

It is surprisingly easy to overlook the importance of IP in the early stages when developing your ideas. The internet has changed the rules. The assets of a successful business tend to be intangibles like names, websites, designs, trade secrets and the like. Do bear this in mind when embarking on new projects or creating your brand.

One good reason to think about IP first is so you can understand how to protect the idea as you give it a commercial form, who to reveal it to, how much to reveal, when to be secretive, and when to freely spread your idea. You don’t want to be all paranoid about revealing the idea otherwise you wouldn’t get anywhere with it. On the other hand, you need a good commercial understanding of the world, business and IP, in order to know how much to reveal and when.

Intellectual Property is an umbrella term that refers to the 5 legal disciplines that protect and govern creations originating from the mind – that is intangible assets. These creations might take the form of inventions, designs, art, written materials such as blog posts, music, secret recipes, brand names, etc. These IP laws are known as patents, trademarks, copyrights, designs, and confidential information or trade secrets to use a common term that describes a type of confidential information.

How it works is that one or more of these laws protect a given subject matter. For example, music is protected by copyright. Names are protected by trademarks, and inventions are protected by patents. Some things are protected by more than one type of law. For example, logos are protected by copyright, designs, and trademarks.

You could end up wasting a lot of time and money unnecessarily, all because of some easily avoidable IP mistake.

An extreme example of how failure to understand IP can result in loss is the Karaoke machine. Mr. Daisuke Inoue, the inventor, earned nothing from the billion-dollar industry that the invention spawned. He never thought of patenting his invention until it was too late. Had he done so, it could have made him millions. Reflecting on his experience, one can’t help feeling that it’s unfair that it was the multinationals and not him who made massive financial gains from the invention.

However, the law is clear. As soon as you reveal your ideas, you lose the possibility of patenting if the idea was for an invention. In a world where opportunists are waiting to pounce on the latest new idea, you need to understand the role of IP in protecting the idea. As soon as ideas are in the public domain you can no longer patent them, and others are able to freely make use of them.

But it’s not just if you have an invention that you could lose out by not looking at IP first.

Turning an idea into a business or product and brand involves knowing how to make the idea spread, how to help it to stand out and be memorable.

How ambitious are you for your idea? How much would it matter to you if you made wrong IP decisions? IP is property just like the land is property. It’s the most valuable property your business or idea can be turned into if you get it right.

Whatever you do, don’t start by going to designers for “branding”, such as to get a logo or website. Designers won’t be able to help you with IP. That’s not their expertise. Most of them might know just a little bit more about IP than the general public, but not nearly enough to help you protect your ideas.