Tag Archives: Differentiation

what is brand

What is a Brand? Essential Reading For Every Business

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Brand is one of those terms that is bandied around quite a lot so that there is a lot of confusion among business owners about what really matters to their bottom line.

In my next post I will explain why brand management is so critical to business success, but first, let’s start by defining what we mean by “brand”.

For one thing, you don’t need to be big or a household name to be a “brand”.  We all have a name, a way of dressing, talking, and walking and subjects we are known for or topics we tend to talk about.

We have beliefs and opinions, and a certain personality. In short, we’re all known for something.  People have a certain response to us or think of us in a particular way.  That’s our brand.

 

Personal vs Business Brand

In the same way that anyone alive has an identity so that the world can tell one person apart from another, so your business also has an identity – a brand – that is quite separate from your own personal brand.

A company is a different person in the eyes of the law from its founder.  Even if you haven’t incorporated your business and are a sole trader doing business under a trading name (or even under your own name), your business identity will be separate, albeit it may be an extension of you.

 

Designing Your Brand

How you design your business is critical to your long-term success.

Unfortunately, there is so much confusion in the market about “brand” that people don’t easily recognise what to do. One misconception many people have is that branding is all about getting designs done for their business – creating their brand identity.

While visual design is an extremely important component of a brand, it is just one of them. Before you go to anyone to help you “brand” your business or yourself, you should first thoroughly think through your business model, and how you are going to create a good business and brand that’s reliable and known for delivering on a specific promise.

The visual identity is the final aspect of the brand to put in place. Although designers and marketers will be able to help you to fine tune your thinking during the branding process, there is a lot of work that you need to have done before you put yourself in the hands of a third party to be branded. You will get much more long term benefits from the exercise if you don’t jump in too quickly to get your visual identity work carried out.

Prioritise working on your business to think through what the market opportunity might be in your space and get some temporary designs in place for your brand in the meantime.

 

Differentiation is key

Then think about how to differentiate yourself.

Is there a segment of the market that is underserved that you could initially serve? That doesn’t mean you’re going to limit your business to only serving that market sector. You won’t be stuck with just that one niche. It’s quite common to have several niches.

For example, Slaten Law in its early days some 20 years ago stumbled on the pest control industry when it helped a few clients from that industry.  This was a finite universe, where everyone went to the same conventions and read the same publication, Pest Control Today.  So, the firm’s website was revised to feature crawling termites ….and bugs…” The firm went all in on serving that industry.

The firm’s website today has moved on considerably. During its journey to its current situation, it identified further markets, such as Dram Shops, Automotive, Nursing Homes, and therefore no longer used a Pest Control focused website. But the firm’s experience illustrates how powerful it is to focus on one narrow niche at a time.

Once you decide on your initial niche, give yourself time to test the market to assess how it responds to your offerings

Next, find out about Branding Strategy.

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Why did Azrights rebrand

Rebranding: When and why should you consider it?

RebrandingThis summer we rebranded Azrights by changing our logo, tagline and brand colours.

In a separate blog Rebranding: Legal issues you can’t afford to ignore I explained the steps we have taken to protect our new brand.

The reasons for rebranding Azrights go back a few years, and stem from the many books I’ve read since founding the firm. For example, Differentiate or Die says specialisation in a subject is a sufficient differentiator. So, in our case, this means our niche status as intellectual property lawyers differentiates us from other law firms. However, I wanted to also distinguish us from other IP law firms, and from large law firms offering intellectual property services.

What rebranding involves

As for any business undergoing rebranding, we thought about who we are, what we do, how we do it, for whom we do it, and what it is like to deal with us. That helped articulate our point of difference.

As I looked around and read other law firm websites it struck me that many of them were saying very similar things. They were invariably pointing to their distinguished history, emphasizing the benefits of their size (big or small), their lawyers’ city law firm backgrounds, and superior legal skills in virtually every practice area. A common statement was how efficient, and service-oriented they were.

After much introspection spanning over a number of years, we finally decided how to separate ourselves from the many others that provide similar legal services.

This has been a useful exercise which ultimately makes it easier for customers to decide which law firm to work with.

Clarity

Even before I founded Azrights, communicating clearly was an important imperative. I was struck by how difficult it could be to understand letters from external lawyers when I was an in house lawyer at Reuters. My role involved translating technical legalese into language the business people would understand.

Intellectual property law is particularly complex for outsiders, and so from the day I founded Azrights, I was committed to making IP easy to access. However, I didn’t appreciate that making the law easy could be a sufficient differentiator. Now that we have adopted this brand value, we are going to live and breathe this commitment. It is not just an empty statement.

We have always published a lot of information on our website, blogs, and in my book. And we have always been committed to using plain English.  However, since our rebranding, I have trawled our website and reviewed most of our services pages myself in order to ensure complex issues are explained in simple terms. I will continue to review our pages and emails to improve their readability.

The more we can strip away unnecessary complexity and provide transparent pricing, the closer we will be to our ideal: making access to global IP easy.

A to Z of IP Rights

We also realised that one way in which we differ from other IP law firms is in the work we do.  From the beginning I was keen to provide clients with the A to Z of IP rights services, hence our name. I felt it was undesirable to have so many different professional firms offering aspects of IP services. In theory, clients would go one provider to protect their name or innovation, another for a copyright or contractual issue, and yet another for litigation. However, in such a scenario there is a real risk of important legal issues falling between the cracks, and there being serious gaps in advice for SMEs. The system involving going to several different types of firm only really works for big household name brands. It is especially unsuited to the new digital environment where a more holistic approach to the legal issues is essential.

I was determined to provide a comprehensive service, and went about doing that by finding a network of experts with the necessary skills so we could provide a full range of IP services. To this day we have professionals who we involve when a client needs particular services, such as patents, data protection, complex litigation and so on.  Our own core team on the other hand focus on trademarks, and copyright and advising on internet law and IT issues. I wrote about these topics in my book, Legally Branded.

I also realised that it is the digital nature of our work that holds the clue to our point of difference. Quite a sizeable number of our clients are businesses setting up online. We do a lot of IT, internet and social media related contracts and dispute resolution work as well as IP registrations for them.

Lawyers who understand the digital world

The fact that we are doing the work we do, comes down to how the digital world is becoming centrally relevant to all businesses. Nowadays everyone needs IP law. It is no longer just those businesses operating in the creative sector or who have a portfolio of brands who need to concern themselves with IP.

For example, the risk of encroaching on other people’s rights is far greater nowadays, because a search on the internet may immediately reveal whether a distinctive name or image you are using belongs to someone else. In an overcrowded world of businesses, it is also becomes more important to register trademarks and other IP in order to protect your business against competitors.

Our clients need lawyers with a solid understanding of what it takes to successfully commission a website and software, to do online marketing, pick a name, and avoid infringing on the rights of others in various situations, including when engaging advertising or marketing help.

Given that our team has backgrounds in computer science, and IT, and I worked at Reuters for 5 years, handing IT/IP matters, another point of difference is the specialist nature of our IP skills. We understand the internet, and social media, and can add significant value.

Our logo

Over the years as we tried to understand our USP and communicate our difference through our logo, the logo became quite messy.  The bull and ‘Legally Branded’ tagline were added to explain our focus on trademarks and branding. We added the words ‘Internet, IP, Identity’ to articulate the digital nature of our work and in a bid to explain that as well as IP, we focused on identity matters.
Rebranding

The messy looking logo was detracting from our aim of making IP law clear and simple. So we chose to work with Marianne, a designer who pointed this out to me and emphasised the value that a new logo would bring.

I’m so pleased I listened to her and opted to work with her.

We now have a logo that reflects our brand values and the digital nature of our work, a tagline that distinguishes us from other IP law firms, and a logo and designs that clearly support our ideal of making IP easy.

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It’s taken 8 years to arrive at this clarity, and it will now be a lot easier to grow the business, and to fulfil our goal of making global IP easy to access and buy.

Take a look at our new branding on this website, in our newsletters (enter your email address in the sidebar to sign up), and also on our recently updated site dedicated to Trademark Registration.