The World has Changed and So Must Our Approach to Branding

blog brand management brand strategy branding entrepreneur tips intellectual property Jun 07, 2022

Shifts in society brought about by the internet, globalisation and digitisation make for a very different world to the 20th century one that spawned our current approach to brand creation. In the 21st century IP needs a more central role in branding.

A common reason I see businesses fail is down to not knowing some critical IP issue. As I mention in my blog, 13 reasons businesses fail trademark infringement is on the rise.  

Twelve years ago, it became my mission to change the way brands are created when a founder I came across went bust after a domain dispute. Had the agency that designed his logo, website and social campaigns advised him to check that he was OK to use the domain name (even though the agency hadn’t chosen the name), the business might have survived. As it was, it wasted £100,000+ of the founder’s life savings. 

The internet has raised the stakes so that brand creators need to adapt and change their approach to brand creation by reflecting IP in their brand strategy. Founders are generally unaware of IP. They assume their branding professionals know everything pertinent to branding, including IP, and would expect their brand advisers to guide them.

 If you’re a designer or marketer who helps determine your clients’ brand strategy, so they understand their market, what their customers want and need, who their competitors are and offer, then you’re capable of learning how to incorporate IP strategy in the mix. It’s crucial to update branding services to be relevant in the 21st century environment we live in.

Just as company law isn’t a subject that entrepreneurs or accountants leave purely to corporate lawyers, so IP is a subject designers and marketers need to understand and include in their clients’ brand strategy. IP strategy is key to knowing what approach to take to naming and the type of identifiers to develop. It comes before trademark searches and registration because it determines the choices of names and other identifiers.

Our effectiveness as brand creators lies in the success of the brands we help create. If a client’s business fails for reasons falling squarely within our remit, then it reflects on us. We fail by association. To develop a reputation for excellence we need to care deeply about the success of the brands we help create.

bCurrently, branding agencies only discuss IP with their clients at the end of projects once a name has been chosen and the visual identity created. The client is then advised to do its own due diligence checks. But if you create a name for a client without first discussing that the client is responsible for the legal searches, that ignores the fact that the client may not have a budget for due diligence. They may believe you’re being overly cautious. They often don’t understand the risks of a possible rebrand down the line. Yet infringement can hit businesses years later. As mentioned in: The Role of Brand Names in Business China Tang had to rebrand even though it had been using its name for 12 years. A name that has had inadequate due diligence checks is risky so either your own searches need to be thorough trademark checks, which they rarely are, or you need to properly discuss IP strategy with clients.

To provide an improved service involves plugging the gap in your knowledge of IP so you can discuss IP with your clients and establish their IP strategy. If the client has no budget for IP protection, they may need to use their own name to reduce risks, but there are other options open to them too as you will find out if you do the Brand Tuned Accreditation program. I would love to support your IP learning– not to teach you what IP is. There are plenty of courses out there on IP rights. That’s not the focus of my course. I cover the brand related IP you need to know, so you can first establish the IP and brand strategy to determine what actions to take during branding to develop distinctive brands.

In the 2020s and beyond a better brand creation service involves leaving your comfort zone. The status quo is no longer a viable option if you want to be known by the success of your clients. Fostering greater business success for your clients might also include offering an IP protection service so IP becomes a profit centre for you. This is explained in the Brand Tuned Accreditation course. Download the brochure to review the syllabus, and do get in touch with me if you have any questions. Early birds get 3 consultation sessions with me to implement the learnings in their business and career.

Should Lawyers Offer a Brand Creation Service? is a question I posed last week because, despite the importance of IP in branding, lawyers’ role in it is marginal, and is reducing all the time. But legal professionals don’t need to want to offer brand creation services to benefit from the Brand Tuned Accreditation course. Developing deeper insights about the business problems clients are solving when they create their brands equips you to better support their legal needs. Understanding the constraints means you can offer better informed guidance.