Tag Archives: brandtuned

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.

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

Tips to Choosing a Name That is Ownable and Enables You to Stand Out

choosing a nameThe 7 Costly Mistakes People Make When Turning their Big Idea into a Business, or when Branding or Rebranding Anything

Did you know that choosing a name is an important IP decision? The name is one of the most valuable assets you potentially create when turning your idea into commercial form. It’s how your brand will be recognised in the world. There is a lot more to names than most people realise.

Whatever the idea, it’s likely you’ll choose a name for it. If you choose the right type of name, you’ll have the foundation of a great brand.

Not only do you need to choose a name that’s ownable, and resonates with your ideal clients, but you’ll also need to make sure the name does not infringe on somebody else’s trademark rights. With trademarks that means the name mustn’t even be like someone else’s name in your industry. People wrongly assume that a common word cannot possibly be monopolised by somebody else and they, therefore, don’t realise that they’re not free to choose certain types of name.

A common mistake when choosing names is that people assume any name will be suitable. They tend to like descriptive names and believe this is the way to go.

There is a lot more to names though. If your idea succeeds, the name will be one of the most important protections of your business concept. Making a poor choice of name can be a very costly mistake because the wrong name might make it that much harder to stand out and get recognition in the market.

The top 3 most successful brands in 2019 were Apple, Google and Amazon, according to Interbrand. Their value is predominantly contained in their brand names. A good name can make or break your business or idea.

An example of a bad name is one that purely describes the business activity – a keyword rich name.

Your name is your ‘badge of origin’. It’s how customers find you. So, your identifying brand name needs to be distinctive and memorable, and most importantly, one that you can uniquely own.

Purely descriptive names are not ownable. When a name isn’t ownable, it means you build little brand value. Your competitors can freely use the same name, and that ultimately means less revenue for you, and very little protection for your business.

If you already have a name, it’s generally best to stick with the same name unless there is a strong reason to change it. Reasons to change a name are if it is purely descriptive, or it’s developed a bad reputation, or if it’s limiting your potential in some way.

A good approach when you don’t have a big budget to inject meaning into a totally made up name, is to choose a name that is suggestive. In other words, a name that is kind of descriptive of your business model without blatantly spelling it out. An excellent example of a suggestive name is DELIVEROO.

When looking for a name that is suggestive of what you are selling beware of veering too far towards the descriptive. A name that was too descriptive was Clubcard. The name describes a loyalty card program, so it has not been accepted for registration as a trademark and everyone else can use the name that Tesco spent hundreds of thousands promoting.

Another example of a name that wasn’t ownable was the tagline “Think Green” because this is a common message used by many worldwide organisations.

Depending on the industry you work in, you might use your own name – think Gucci, Armani, and Selfridges.

Many successful brands have become memorable using a name that doesn’t relate to their business at all – for example, Galaxy chocolate, Google or Apple Computers. If Larry Page and Sergey Brin had decided to use the brand name ‘Search Engine’, how would you recommend them to a friend? They wouldn’t have been able to uniquely own such a name, so wouldn’t have become so well known.

If you want to describe what your business does, then the tagline is the way to do that. For example, a descriptive tagline right next to the brand name will help your distinctive name.

In our case, we use Azrights as our name, mainly because that’s always been our name (it denotes the A to Z of IP rights services that we started out offering when it was rare for IP firms to offer the full range of services). Our current tagline is “Lawyers for the Digital World” describing that we are lawyers focused on online business. We will be changing this soon to reflect the new direction of the business as an IP consultancy and brand strategists now that we offer BrandTuned.

BrandTuned (or Brand Tuned) is a name we came up with because we wanted a name that incorporates the word “Brand”. We wanted to be able to use the name for our new service, but also to use it internationally for an online course, a book title (look out for the BrandTuned book out later in 2020), and also for a podcast. It turned out that the .com of the name was available so we secured the domain too even though it hadn’t been one of our criteria that the .com should be available. There are so many domain suffixes you can use these days. It really limits you to only choose names based on availability of the .com.

The name is one of the most important ways to make your business distinctive. The wrong name really can make it a struggle to be in business. Picking a name that is not ownable for the purposes and geographical markets in which you intend to use it, puts a ceiling on what your business can achieve.