How to stand out of the crowd
Hi everyone,I hope that you are having a great week. Today we’re going to talk about brands. The best brands in the world act as a magnet to their buying public. When formulated and looked after correctly, they allow businesses to become a “category of one” – with buyers far and wide flocking to buy, buy, buy. I want this to be something that everyone can tap into. Today, I would like to talk to you a bit in depth about the power of a truly distinctive brand and how they are created, maintained, and leveraged by businesses. I am also going to let you know how you can tap into this kind of brand magnetism yourself. Let’s get started.
Getting it right from the outset
First and foremost, you need to start off with something unique and distinct. A lot of people fall into the trap of not really thinking this through. Perhaps they have something already in mind, or which they are personally attached to. The result can often be fatally ordinary and put you in a position where grabbing attention is an uphill battle from the outset. If there is one piece of advice, I would give to businesses it is to develop a truly outstanding (and stand out!) brand from day 1. This requires customer research as well as competitor and gap analysis to truly get right. You don’t want to be in any way comparable to what is already there. You want to stand out in the best possible way! (Think about someone like Oatly when it comes to alternative milk they have a presence and feel that makes everyone else seem like background noise). It is that kind of standout presence that you want to see in your brand. Take your time to get it right. It also needs to be legally distinct. As a result, the best brands are usually quite abstract and unrelated to what they’re affixed to. That connection is made later by the reputation customers make. What has the word “Apple” got to do with electronics, for example? The relation that is there now is entirely about the company's reputation and previous products. Being abstract and legally distinct will mean that when you get your trademark registered it is less likely to be opposed and that if anyone else starts to copy your look and feel you can quickly stop them by strongly enforcing your rights. Distinctiveness (both legally and from a market point of view ) is really, really, really, worth taking your time on to get 100% right as a “dream house” (or brand in this instance) can’t be built on shaky foundations. Many people shoot themselves in the foot in this first step by not being that imaginative, or not really understanding how brands can function in the first instance. Of course, we can help businesses really develop that distinctiveness into their brands if it is not there already.
Approaching it from multiple angles
If you think about the most “iconic” brands out there… The Coca-Colas, McDonald's’, Cadburys’, Ferraris, Nikes (the list goes on and on) … They have multiple brands protected by trademarks that, in combination with each other are what generate their presence in the minds of the consumer. Cadbury for example has trademarks for:
- The name Cadbury
- The figurative “signature” style presentation of the name
- The specific purple colour that has become synonymous with its products (hotly contested)
- The individual brand names it owns (e.g., Dairy Milk, Crunchie, Wispa, etc.)
- The figurative illustrated “logos” for each of these brands
(They’ve also now developed a “sonic identifier”, which like other jingles we’ll probably see registered as a trademark sooner rather than later.) It’s a lot! And it is worth a lot to Cadbury. You can see how this means that any recognisable and loved brand element is protected. World-leading businesses have lots of brand elements which come together to make something recognisable and attractive in the eyes of their customers. Think visually, and also think about other ways that people can be triggered to think about you. As above, they’re also really unique and distinct. In combination, this means that other people find it difficult to get close to emulating the Cadbury look and feel – which, as an established market leader is what people are always looking for on the shelves. This brings me to the next point…
This is the hard bit. Brands have what we call reputational “caché”. Every time someone opens and enjoys a Coke that is a “+1” for the Coca-Cola company. Over the years, this has created a juggernaut of goodwill, with Coca-Cola products flying off the shelves wherever you live in the world. Simply put, their reputation proceeds them both in terms of people’s previous interaction with their products as well as their marketing presence. Marketing and branding offer a promise – the products and services themselves fulfil that promise. Each time this is done successfully a brand becomes more attractive in the eyes of its consumer. The same goes for you and your business. If you have followed the steps above, you have a distinct brand identity, and it is all about ensuring that every time someone engages with you it is another “+1” stored within your brand. Add enough of these “+1”s and your brand becomes entirely magnetic. This means that any time someone is looking for what you offer - you’re top of mind and people go out of their way to buy from you. Sounds good, right? But of course, the lack of a distinct and enforced brand could mean that you’re putting all that goodwill you have spent so much effort to get into an especially leaky sieve – as you’re either:
- Not distinct enough to stand out from competitors from the outset, by virtue of having an ordinary brand
- At risk of others siphoning off your reputation by freely copying your look and feel as it hasn't been protected robustly from a legal point of view
I hope that you have found this newsletter informative and helpful. At Virtuoso Legal, we often find ourselves in the position where we are helping people with IP problems after the fact. Whether it is a self-filed brand or a dispute that emerges from people not quite having a hold of their intellectual property. I am really passionate about educating and helping people adopt best practices from the outset. Do get in contact with me (email button below as always) if you’re working on something new. I am happy to act as a sounding board to make sure that you don’t fall foul of risk or miss the opportunity that is out there. Hope you have a great week, Liz
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