Why Creatives May Want to Go Back to School this September

blog brand assets brand creation brand name brand naming brand strategy branding copyright intelectual property Aug 30, 2022

Back to school already. Can you believe it? The summer is nearly over. 

A new school or university year is often a huge change, so early September has always felt more like a time of new beginnings for me than January 1st. 

It’s fitting and exciting to be launching the Brand Tuned Accreditation program on 8th September. I have huge respect for the early adopters joining the first cohort. They are a mix of creatives, business advisers, lawyers and founders. 

I’m surprised more creatives didn’t sign up though, given how significant intellectual property is to their work. From my experience as a lawyer, designers and marketers are the group who most need the program because IP is their stock in trade. They’re creating IP assets for their clients when they do branding work for them. 

In one case a designer client of mine faced litigation when an artist discovered that one of his paintings had been incorporated in the designer’s packaging design. The designer had simply carried out his client’s request but hadn’t thought to ask whether the client had permission to use the artwork. Legally, the designer was primarily responsible for the infringement. He was personally liable and couldn’t rely on limited liability to escape responsibility. Luckily, we were able to resolve the dispute without going to court, but it was an extremely worrying time for the designer. 

In another case a marketer had been running a business for more than 5 years. The business was very successful in its industry niche. When I did a “mini IP audit” for her business, I discovered she didn’t have the right legal agreements in place. She did not have copyright in logos and other assets created for clients over the years. Her clients were often big corporates whose standard requirements were for copyright ownership to be assigned to them. She didn’t realise that in accepting their terms she was in breach of contract. 

As she was working with a large law firm on a personal matter at the time, she got further advice on her copyright situation from their corporate department. Next I heard, she was closing down her thriving business. I’m not sure why, but imagine it might have had something to do with the copyright problem. She must have been advised to close the company. 

I’ve come across countless situations where an IP mistake has caused huge problems for a business, sometimes resulting in legal proceedings against the creatives. 

Creatives need to learn about IP. Currently, they pick up the knowledge they need as they go because they’re not trained in IP. For the unlucky ones, that’s often after a catastrophe of some sort. But unfortunately, nobody talks about their IP mistakes because they’re ashamed. They pretend to know more about IP than they know because they think it reflects badly on them to acknowledge they don’t understand the IP dimension of their work! This tendency towards secrecy about IP, means creatives are largely unaware of how IP issues affect them. 

Some think the legal aspects of branding only impacts naming. However, IP issues come up in many subtle ways because branding is about being distinctive, and distinctiveness is all about identity and IP. 

Although there are training courses out there on IP, the Brand Tuned Accreditation program is the only one that teaches IP in the context of creating a brand. So it’s much easier to relate to than a course on IP alone. 

I’m thrilled to have finished creating the program. There were scripts to write, 12 on-demand video modules to record, and numerous resources, quizzes, and assessments to create and more. 

I knew from experience that many creatives don’t use written terms of business. So, I’ve provided a ‘terms of business’ template which incorporates a best practice approach to copyright assignment and licensing. The template will be useful to founders too when engaging designers. 

The resources also include a freelancer agreement and copyright assignment template, as well as an IP flyer to explain IP. This is necessary to educate clients as they often don’t understand the relevance of IP but expect their creatives to alert them to anything they need to know. 

I also included “how to” video instructions to identify trademark classes and do trademark searches. Although creatives often put the onus on their clients to get a name searched, the fact is that some clients don’t bother to get the name checked out. Yet, a name is likely to be immediately knocked out if basic trademark screening wasn’t done when choosing it. Learning to do preliminary trademark searching is vital – not to replace legal checks, but as part of any naming exercise. 

And checking whether a concept you have in mind to design is too similar to an existing trademark is also a tool of the trade that anyone creating brands should have as standard. These searches are not difficult to do. You just need to learn how to do them. 

The Brand Tuned Accreditation program is the ideal way to get foundational knowledge and skills in IP. It’s probably the most comprehensive education in IP and branding that’s available. The price is easily justified when you consider all the resources included, quite apart from the training itself. I’ve attended numerous branding courses that were similarly priced which delivered far less value. 

Why risk making costly mistakes? Why not go back to school this September to learn what you need to know as a branding creative? Upgrade your education by joining the Brand Tuned program which starts next week. Go here to sign up. 

I had enough sign ups to justify creating this course, so haven’t focused on marketing the course yet. I’m confident there will be growing interest in the program once we begin to properly market the next one. The course is really needed, especially for freelancers and those running agencies that offer branding services. Do spread the word about it. 

The Brand Tuned podcast has taken a back seat as a result of all this activity on the course. It will resume in a few weeks.