What we can learn from the Tesco caseJun 01, 2023
Last week I mentioned that Tesco lost the benefit of its million-pound marketing spend because it used the Clubcard name instead of a stronger name like Tescocard. If you missed it you can read it on the Brand Tuned blog A million-pound mistake?
Although Tesco received an inadequate service from its advertising agency, chances are that at the time, Tesco didn’t realise its agency had delivered a poor service!
It’s the same reason why the branding industry gets away with delivering a poor service to clients. Unless people understand brand IP principles, they don’t realise what a weak name looks like, or that it could cause their business to be less successful or to even fail.
It doesn’t surprise me that even the likes of Tesco receive an inadequate service because there is a widespread tendency in the branding industry to opt for meaningful names.
Such names are either not ownable, or even if they are, they’re likely to be weak and insufficiently distinctive to be readily enforceable. That’s the drawback with meaningful names.
Many business owners assume that names that describe what a business does, is the way to go. So, they regard the legal rules that prevent them from trademarking descriptive names as a hurdle to be overcome, rather than as an indication that they should reconsider their choice.
People don’t understand the brand protection aspect of names, and hence don’t realise that using a weak name, adversely impacts their revenues, because such names are impossible or too difficult to enforce against competitors who copy you.
I’ve known of businesses spending vast sums of money to fight passing off cases over generic or very weak names that they should never have gone with in the first place. Instead of wasting money litigating, they should draw a line under the matter and find a stronger name.
In the past I’ve been appalled by lawyers who encourage their clients to fight cases that are obviously a losing battle. My initial reaction was to question their ethics, but I then realised these lawyers are probably fighting those cases because they don’t understand the subtleties of names.
Just as the general population and branding industry don’t really understand names, so lawyers who haven’t been trained in the legal aspects of branding won’t understand them either. Just because someone is a lawyer doesn’t mean they magically understand specialist topics like Brand IP.
Unless a lawyer specialises in brands and trademarks, they are unlikely to recognise what constitutes a good name.
That’s why Brand Tuned Program is suitable for a commercial lawyer, as well as a designer, marketer, founder, or business leader.
It gives you the skills you need to identify whether a name or other sign is suitable for a business’ individual circumstances and needs.
Brand IP is a term I use to distinguish it from what people normally associate with IP – namely, patents, science, engineering, and complex technologies.
There is a widespread myth that IP is only relevant to a business once it is successful and has something to protect.
Contrary to such myths, Brand IP is about IP issues that need to be addressed early on, from the outset. It impacts business design and branding.
Brand IP is about understanding that brand protection is as much about the choices you make as it is about the actions you take to protect what you’ve already chosen.
There’s currently an unmissable special offer on the Brand Tuned program just for Brand Tuned and Azrights subscribers. It’s not too late to subscribe to take advantage of the bonuses.