How to Make Better IP Decisions

blog brand creation branding intellectual property trademark Jun 17, 2022

We all want to have significance and engage in work that matters.

My search to discover how I could help my clients to make better intellectual property decisions so they could benefit from my knowledge and skills in a more meaningful way, led me to doing brand creation work, rather than just focusing on legal services.

Helping clients think through and clarify their aims, decide their objectives, and how to stand out among their competitors is work I find very rewarding. I love that I’m fostering greater business success as well as ensuring clients make better long term IP decisions.

Lawyers don’t usually get involved in brand creation because they limit their perspective to just law. In the process they fail to offer the broader support and guidance around brand creation that early-stage business clients often need.

To be a trusted adviser instead of just a transactional service provider, it’s essential to take a wider perspective and broaden our skills. IP lawyers need to expand their skills and stop focusing purely on doing legal work if they are to influence clients’ choice of name and other intellectual property.

I realised that by the time clients came to me to protect their brand, they had already made all the important IP decisions and that if I wanted to influence those decisions in favour of better IP choices, I’d need to learn how to help clients to create their brands. That led me to a journey of writing the Brand Tuned book as I developed skills in marketing, and branding.

I’m keen to help other lawyers transition to doing brand creation work too because I know that most lawyers would much prefer to influence IP decisions, such as choice of names, instead of just getting involved to do legal availability searching and registration.

What lawyers may not appreciate is that no single profession has all the skills needed to create brands. Marketers, and designers need to develop wider skills to be able to support their clients’ brand creation work. They have lots to learn, including about the ‘what and why’ of brand and intellectual property on their journey to becoming specialised generalists. Lawyers can do it just as well if they want to.

Given that 99.9% of all businesses are small businesses (the vast majority of which are micro businesses with fewer than 10 employees), it’s unlikely that businesses would hire three sets of professional – a marketer, a designer and an IP lawyer - to collaborate on their branding. What this means is that individual professionals should develop the multiple skills they need to assist their business clients with brand creation.

We do our early-stage business clients a disservice if we assume that some other professional is better placed to advise them on their brand creation needs. If a client comes to you to register a trade mark, don’t assume they’ve had help with their business and brand elsewhere, or that they will get it later from some other professional. Often, I find I am the first professional adviser clients have consulted.

The more lawyers and other brand professionals develop their broader skillset the more of a competitive edge they get, and the more valuable they become to their clients. So, improving one’s skills is the way to be more unique.

Younger professionals who are at the start of their careers would do well to develop wider expertise by combining multiple disciplinary skills. That’s the way to be more marketable, and secure coveted entry level openings.

When I used to take on trainee solicitors, I was spoiled for choice. There were far more candidates than available training openings. But while there were many available candidates, it was difficult to find good ones who were commercially aware. They were all indistinguishable from each other with narrow perspectives as they had all just studied law and done legal work placements. However, one of my trainee solicitors stood out as he had done a computer science degree before his law degree. This made him more commercial because he understood technology issues as well as the legal considerations. As such his combination of skills made him more employable.

It’s not about trying to master lots of different skills by dabbling in both marketing and intellectual property say. You would still focus on one of them and go a mile deep with it. However, by spreading yourself out across multiple disciplines and developing deep skills in a related discipline that is rarely combined you become more relevant and unique. Combining skills bulletproofs your career and should see you in the top decile of earning power.

In the process of writing the Brand Tuned book, I realised that branding is a field that’s ripe for improvement. It’s confused and convoluted making it difficult for people to know what to focus on to develop their skills and support businesses to create their brand.

The subject needs to be made more accessible, which is why I created the Brand Tuned Accreditation program. I wanted to make it easy for professionals to plug the gap in their knowledge and develop the skills they’re missing so they can support their clients with brand creation.

Brand thinking helps founders focus on what matters so they can design their business well. Once they have clarity around their brand, they have a system for motivating and engaging team members. The team know what’s expected of them and can decide how to behave in the different circumstances they find themselves in. So, brand creation work makes a real difference to people’s lives. I can’t recommend it enough, the value of learning how to create a brand.

If you join the Brand Tuned Accreditation program you will develop the skills you need to support founders to create their brands. Or if you’re a founder yourself, you’ll learn how to create your own brand! There’s a special half price offer available currently so sign up while the offer is still open.