Tag Archives: Intellectual Property

branding the terminology

Branding – The Terminology

branding the terminologyA brand is about a lot more than just about how it looks. “Brand” can be an important business tool if used well.

Yet “brand” and “branding” are terms that mystify many business owners. Even those who go through a branding process often emerge without a clear idea of the meaning of these words, and the value of using the brand strategy work they did during branding to guide their business journey.

It’s clear that to most people a brand is a logo. They associate branding with graphic design work, and as a rule, most businesses that I interview on my podcast don’t appear to have been guided by their brand strategy in their subsequent journey to success. Instead branding was an exercise they went through to get to their brand designs and that’s the sum total of its impact on their business subsequently.

A business’ logo and designs are not going to determine the reputation the brand builds, so it’s too narrow as a definition of a brand.

What Brand Means

If you ask people who believe that a brand is more than a logo to define what it is, you will often get definitions like ‘everything you do is your brand’, or people will quote Jeff Bezos saying that ‘your brand is what people say when you’re not in the room’.

However, such statements do more to confuse and obfuscate than to clarify what a brand is.

The picture is further complicated because branding and marketing are used interchangeably as if they mean one and the same thing.

When I wrote my first book ‘Legally Branded’ in 2012, I was mystified by the meaning of the word and consulted authoritative texts such as The New Strategic Brand Management (Kogan Page, 2011) by J. N. Kapferer. Apparently the internationally agreed legal definition of a brand is ‘a sign or set of signs certifying the origin of a product or service and differentiating it from the competition’.

This is the essence of branding – its origins as a way of burning an identifying mark on livestock with a branding iron to distinguish the ownership of cattle. Branding is fundamentally about creating a visual identity to stand out and be uniquely identified as your brand.

The identifying marks applied to cattle soon evolved into a stamp of approval, and source of origin.

While with cattle applying a logo was all there was to it, for a business branding involves more than stamping it with a logo, and other visual designs. After all, you need to first decide what look to stamp it with.

So, in practice, branding is as much about how you design your business as it is about your visual designs.

This definition of branding, doesn’t give founders of small businesses an accessible way to understand the meaning of the term “brand” so in my blog What is a Brand? Essential Reading For Every Business I used a practical approach to convey what brand and branding mean.

Instead of trying to define the terms in a succinct sentence or two, I drew an analogy to the personality and reputation of an individual.

To properly understand what brand means, think of an individual’s personality. When we talk about people, we say we like their personality, we don’t tend to say we like someone’s brand. I think it helps to make the word ‘brand’ more relatable, less obscure, to think of it as interchangeable with personality and reputation.

Gradually as we get to know a real person, we see different sides to them, and form a sense of who they are. We might even be able to predict how they will respond in certain situations, whether they can be trusted to see something through, or are likely to give up half-way, and so on.

Brand: Sum Total of Impressions

We form a mental picture, and associations when a person’s name is mentioned. What we think about them derives from a mixture of our past experiences of them, the impression they made on us, their appearance, our sense of who they are, what makes them tick, how they make us feel. That is their reputation or brand in our mind’s eye.

What we think of them is coloured by our own personalities and worldview. Our values, beliefs, preferences, and our past experiences of them will all impact our perceptions. This means there won’t be a universal view of a given person.

However, there will be some commonalities that appear again and again when people talk about someone. Certain objective facts about an individual that won’t be disputed by most people. For example, someone may have a bubbly personality, or seem grumpy. These are objective facets of people, that are likely to be noticed and accepted by nearly everyone who has contact with them depending on how core that behaviour is to their personality.

Similarly, as your business is also a separate person legally with an identity of its own that evolves over time it creates an impression on others through their experiences of your business. Gradually over time, when people hear your company’s name certain associations come to mind. It might encompass how your company has communicated with them, your products and services, any memory of your customer service, or handling of their initial enquiries and so on.

What you say as a business on your website, in your content on blogs, videos and social media, and how you run the business in terms of the quality of your products and services and customer service, all go to create an overall impression about your business. These gradually reflect on how you come across to others as a business.

That’s what people mean when they say everything you do is your brand or that every business has a brand whether they know it or not.

With time your business will evoke a certain response in others. Certain key aspects of your brand and reputation will be noticed more universally by others.

 

Brand Strategy

Setting your brand strategy as part of branding is how you can decide how to influence the perceptions about your business. That’s when you decide what you want your business to be known for, what qualities you will try to promote in your business so its identity, that is, its brand can develop over time and acquire the reputation you would want it to have.

A newly created business has no background or history. It will develop a reputation (that is, a brand) which you can control. The name you choose, what the business does, how the business becomes known, what your business aspires to do, all these details and more determine the brand it will develop.

Rather than letting it evolve haphazardly you can influence the direction of its brand by designing the business intentionally.

And if you’re rebranding, then that’s the time to rethink the branding you started out with, to refine your thinking for the business, perhaps set a new vision for it.

Some business owners believe that brand is not applicable to them because they are small. That it only applies to well-known household name businesses.

While there is undoubtedly a difference between a brand that is well known such as the Apples of this world, and one that is still relatively unknown, it’s nevertheless the case that every business, and indeed every person is a brand in the sense of evoking a reaction and making an impression on others.  Some brands are just less well known than others. Some may be well-known to a micro community and others may not be known yet because they’re just be getting started.

So, there exists an axis ranging from a brand that’s not known or understood in the market, to one that has become known by a sufficient size of the market to be a “brand”, a household name in their market possibly, in the sense of a brand that has succeeded, and has real traction in a community.

Design is Not Just How a Brand Looks

Design is about how your business works, not just how it looks. Just as an individual’s looks matter, and impact the impression we form of them, so your business’ visual appearance matters of course. In fact, the evidence-based research from the Ehrenberg Bass institute indicates the visual dimension matters a lot.

Creating the visual identity of your business is an enjoyable aspect of branding or rebranding because you get a transformation of your ideas into appealing visual designs which can be very exciting.

However, to get a worthwhile result leave the designs till you have worked on your brand strategy and got as far as you can with it on your own.

By deciding the brand you want to create strategically, and determining the reputation you want the business to develop you will have a much better chance of influencing the way you build the brand. You need not risk it getting a reputation randomly over time, and most importantly you can ensure the visual identity designs support the overall impression and feelings you want your brand to evoke and convey.

Get Started Using low-cost Designs

Clearly a new business needs some designs to get started. If you’re just starting out, then depending on your business model and intentions for your business, I recommend you get going and prove the concept while using low-cost designs, and even a temporary name. Think through your brand strategy about the brand you want to build as you get market feedback. That process is bound to impact your vision for your business, and result in decisions about the brand you want to build.

Then with the concept proven, the next step is to engage in more expensive design work for your business, and possibly a new name, and website to properly launch your business. These decisions involve fundamental intellectual property considerations which are foundational for your business. I’ve written many blogs about what intellectual property means, such as Is a Brand Intellectual Property? Definition of Brand and Intellectual Property.

Although I use the word brand and business interchangeably the term “brand” or “business” mean different things. Your “business” is your company—the organization that produces your products or offers your services. Your “brand”, on the other hand, is the image or identity or reputation that your business projects—the way that consumers perceive your business.

Designing the business includes deciding what products or services you will sell, what barriers to entry you will erect, how you will turn your knowledge, skills and insights into a new concept and business.

Bear in mind that if you don’t create a successful business that meets a market need, then no amount of ‘visual identity branding’ will turn your business into your desired type of brand. This leads into the second word I want to define, namely, branding.

What Branding Means

Branding is the activity of creating the visual identity for your brand. It’s the process by which you put your best strategic thinking for developing your business into a visual identity.  It involves turning your business philosophy, and how you intend it to function as a business into visual designs.

In order to determine who your brand is, you first need to have asked yourself some searching questions, and done some deep thinking about the business you want to build, the brand you want it to have so it is reliably known for delivering a specific promise.

Branding gives your business a visual identity. It gives consumers something to relate to and connect with. Branding makes your business memorable. It’s the face of your company and helps consumers distinguish your business from others.

Your branding supports your marketing and advertising efforts It helps consumers to recognise you again if they’ve come across your brand in the past.

Marketing is often used interchangeably with branding but is quite different. It’s the activity you engage in to bring a product or service to market. Sending out branded messages and communications to make sure your product gets out to market and gets sold. It overlaps with branding but is distinct.

Branding determines what your product looks like, and what kind of vibe it gives.  Marketing is about bringing those efforts out there in the world.

To conclude your brand is primarily about how you are known. With time a strong brand becomes associated with a specific promise.

Decide on a niche business

How to Decide on a Niche to Focus on in Your Business

Decide on a niche businessIn my podcast Brand Tuned, Successful Brand, Successful Business, Ronnie Fox discussed how focusing on the right niche led to success in his long and illustrious career.

He mentioned that he decided to specialise in a relatively narrow field of employment law when he started his own law firm, doing “golden handshake” work. In those days there were very few exclusively Employment Lawyers. But when the Employment Lawyers Association was formed, the carta of Employment Lawyers grew and grew.

At the same time, he was getting some partnership law work and found that partnership work was very different. It wasn’t really recognized as a speciality on its own at the time. People came to him and said, “well, you went from one partnership to another, you were in a partnership that merged, so you must have learned something about partnership”. And when the number of Employment Lawyers belonging to the Employment Lawyers Association went into the thousands, Ronnie thought he would focus on partnership work and build recognition for partnership as a separate area of expertise.

So, by focusing on an emerging field of work alongside employment law he distinguished himself and attracted a steady stream of work.

Combination of Skills

Tim Ferris in a video discusses combining skills. He suggests we should aim to become specialised generalists and cites Dilbert’s advice of trying to combine a handful of skills that are rarely combined. For example, a computer science degree and a law degree is a great combination.

Of course, you don’t want to dabble in a million things. You should still end up going a mile deep. However, if you spread yourself out across multiple skills that are rarely combined and can be effectively combined you should end up with a unique combination of skills that are sought after.

Tim also covers in that video 3 skills that are highly effective to add to your existing specialism – namely, writing, public speaking and negotiation.

The problems that led me to combine my skills

As an intellectual property lawyer, I identified numerous problems around IP and branding. I’ve written extensively about these in various articles and in my YouTube channel. Briefly, they were as follows

  1. In today’s digital society, the assets of a business are largely comprised of intangibles.
  2. Intangibles like websites, logos, content, trade secrets, names and the like, are governed by intellectual property laws.
  3. Few people understand what intellectual property means, and when it’s appropriate to protect it, even though some people may be aware that it’s important to the value of a business.
  4. Taking the right actions when you create or develop each type of intangible asset is how you ensure you have a valuable business.
  5. Different actions are needed to protect the different IP rights of copyright, trademarks, patents, designs, and know how. In practice, you need to make the right choices, use the right legal agreements and register your rights, such as in names.
  6. Failing to protect IP can render a brand generic, and very expensive to enforce.

So there is widespread lack of understanding of IP laws, and I also noted that people want designs created for their business even before they’re ready with their business plan or business strategy, and some tend to spend a lot of money on branding which will often completely overlook IP.

What to expect from designers and creatives

During my 15+ years in business, I’ve come to know that on the whole, designers who support entrepreneurs with their branding lack a proper understanding of IP laws. Sometimes they have misleading ideas about what can and cannot be protected or owned. That’s not surprising given that IP law is a different discipline. However, their clients don’t realise this. So the upshot is that the IP dimension of branding isn’t adequately addressed, leading to various potential problems for business owners.

Some end up using names that cannot be owned, which holds their progress back, and limits the potential of their business. Sometimes people use names that hadn’t been adequately searched, leading to the occasional disaster, or an expensive rebrand. This could happen either because the clients themselves chose a name without properly understanding the impact of IP laws on their decisions or hadn’t followed the agency’s advice to get a name that was created for them checked out by their own lawyers.

Other problems related to branding are that the client doesn’t secure ownership rights in their logo or in software developed for their website.

By overlooking IP protection or giving a service that did not properly address IP, creatives make my role as an IP lawyer difficult because I am often cast in the role of bearer of bad news, the one the client might divert its dissatisfaction onto.

This naturally led to my decision to combine my skills in IP protection with brand creation so I can help clients and agencies alike with naming and identifying how to create protectable distinctive assets. That’s the best way for a business to uniquely stand out and be seen without being copiable. Combining brand creation with brand protection also means business owners can be properly advised around IP.

Becoming skilled in brand creation

First, I had to get a good understanding of what people need to do when they go through branding.

I have been reading branding and marketing books for years, but now I needed to understand what people needed to do before naming their product or service.

I soon discovered that the terminology in the branding world is maddeningly difficult to penetrate. There is so much jargon, and people use different terms so that you are left wondering whether they are the same or different to something else. For example, some books refer to brand principles, while others make no mention of brand principles, instead, they might talk about brand architecture, or brand platform. In other words, there isn’t even a universal meaning to the terms people use, so that it’s difficult to know what you need to do in order to work out your brand strategy.

The core of branding seems to involve working out your vision, mission and values, that much is simple enough. But there are a host of other details that are confusing. For example, you need to determine your brand promise, and brand personality, or tone of voice. Some people suggest thinking about what you want to leave people feeling, what you want to be known for. Do these mean the same things, I found myself wondering? Is positioning the same as how you want to be known? And what about purpose? This has certainly become a very fashionable ‘must have’ nowadays, but is it going to impact the designs? If so how? Or is purpose more about motivating your team in which case why do some books on branding talk about purpose so much?

Once you’ve worked out what all this stuff means you still need to think about your story, PR, and much more. And then there is the issue of personal branding and its effect on your business. It’s no wonder that small business owners might be confused and not really know who to turn to for their branding.

TUNED Framework

Having spent many years learning about branding, and the last few years trying to decipher all the different terminology in order to work out what currently happens in branding, and what I believe should happen, I’ve gradually created my own unique framework, known as TUNED.

The Tuned Framework combines branding with IP to support entrepreneurs to get a great stand out brand for their business so they can be ready for success. I’ve been very much led by evidence-based marketing in developing this framework. For example, see my blog about Byron Sharp’s work last week. It was really important to me to be objective and to produce a methodology that would move the needle for business owners, using best practice and IP thinking.

Not only does this combining of two completely disparate skills bring extra value to clients, but it also provides a more effective approach to branding by overcoming the numerous problems that now exist.

We now just need to identify entrepreneurs and businesses that understand and value IP so they use Brand Tuned when it’s released later this Autumn, as it will deliver far more for less. I’m teaming up with a fantastic design team and using my own brand as a guinea pig for the visual identity work before launching the final product into the world.

In the meantime, if you want to benefit from the series of introductory webinars I’m delivering then do sign up to the next one which is called Name it Right! It provides a road map to support you in naming your business, products, or methodologies.

Sign up to attend the webinar on 8 July

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 to Add Value To Your Business Using the Right Brand and IP Strategy

How to Add Value To Your Business Using the Right Brand and IP Strategy

How to Add Value To Your Business Using the Right Brand and IP StrategyIt is generally accepted that what makes an asset valuable, whether it is a digital or physical one, or any type of intellectual property such as a patent, trade secret, trademark, copyright or design, is based on answers to questions such as

  • How much income is it generating?
  • What is the pattern of income production?
  • How long can that continue?
  • What is the risk it will not materialise as predicted due to obsolescence, dilution, or market changes?

While there is information out there on valuation of intellectual property and business, the aim I have here is to consider how to add value to your business when you are embarking on business branding or new marketing campaigns. What does it take to create a strong IP that is more likely to endure long term?

 

Separating Branding and IP Protection

It’s important to take on board that using a silo approach does not give you the best outcome for your projects.  Getting the best return on your investment involves treating brand or campaign creation and intellectual property protection in an integrated rather than a linear way, which tends to be the norm currently.

The way to get powerful IP is to think about intellectual property right at the beginning so you can be strategic about it.  Adopting an interdisciplinary approach to brand creation adds much more value to your business.

Most people equate intellectual property with patents, and this misconception gets in their way when it comes to using an inter-disciplinary approach in the creative process.

 

Misconceptions About IP

Intellectual property is about so much more than patents, and brands are about so much more than trademarks.

IP, as it relates to branding, enables protection of many aspects of a campaign or brand. For example, some of the elements that may be protected as valuable intellectual assets include:

    • Product name
    • Logo
    • Slogan
    • Design of the product
    • Design of the packaging
    • Copy in the ad
    • Script of any commercial or video
    • Look and feel of any website
    • Distinctive sounds associated with the product or campaign
    • Music that accompanies an ad campaign
    • Content created on a web site
    • Photographs and illustrations and so on

Protectable Elements

As so many aspects of a campaign are protectable it follows that you should consider IP when you are about to create and plan a business, campaign or branding project. That is the way to ensure what is created will be ownable through trademarks, trade secrets or know-how, copyright, and designs.

Thinking about intellectual property in the middle of the creative process or at the end of the process is too late. It’s essential to consider IP strategically at the outset so you can create IP that is powerful, enduring, and more impactful and valuable.

In their book “Brand Rewired: Connecting Branding, Creativity, and Intellectual Property Strategy” the authors Anne Chasser, and Jennifer Wolfe address the gap between IP and branding.

Having conducted preliminary interviews with innovation leaders at some of the world’s biggest brands they tested their theory and discovered that forward-thinking companies are finding ways to intersect strategic thinking about IP with branding and innovation because this results in a greater long-term return on investment.

They found plenty of evidence that long-lasting intellectual property involves an interdisciplinary approach from the start.

 

How the World’s Top Brands Do Brand Creation

By understanding what it takes to create powerful and economically valuable intellectual property some of the world’s top brands get their brand and campaign creation done faster, and with fewer resources. This leads to reduced costs, and a greater likelihood of success for their projects.

When IP isn’t considered first, all too often, exorbitant amounts of money can be spent on researching, developing, creating and testing a product, a brand, or a campaign only to find out that it either can’t be used or isn’t of significantly greater value than what is already out there. Worse, it may result in a lawsuit from a third party. The result is a lot of money being spent without the ability to recapture it over a long enough period of time.

Given that considering IP first, at the beginning of the creative process, reduces costs and gives a greater return on investment the question is why agencies are not changing their methodology to incorporate IP in the early stages. I would love to know the answer to this.

 

Opportunity for Forward Thinking Service Providers

Given that the brand is potentially one of the most valuable intellectual property assets of a business, an asset that can be used as leverage in obtaining financing and an important part of the market value of the business, which affects stock prices, why would an agency not want to do its utmost to support its clients to create the most value?

It seems to me that there is a real opportunity for agencies that want to stand out to do so by incorporating IP strategically in their process. After all, one of the key characteristics that gives a brand more value is its strength as intellectual property, and an agency is generally engaged by founders and business leaders to improve their overall business performance.

At the small business end of the market, it’s not uncommon for founders and business leaders not to have a good grasp on what IP involves and entails. Many businesses will not have their own specialists on hand to help with IP strategy when it comes to brand or campaign creation. So, the agency can demonstrate leadership and appropriate concern for the client by incorporating IP into their process.

Register Here To Find out more how Brand Tuned supports founders and agencies to take IP into account strategically, reducing wasted costs, creating stronger brands, and getting a greater return on investment.

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.

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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.

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

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.

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.

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.