In a world where there is more and more noise, it can be difficult to be heard. Many of us feel that despite producing awesome content, we’re just not getting through to anyone.
To capture anyone’s attention requires more than good content.
This is a topic I’ve decided to research and study closely so in future posts I’ll be sharing my findings and ideas for distributing our content so as to reach more people. Watch this space.
You’re Not Alone If You Feel That Your Marketing Isn’t Working
You’re in good company if you find that your marketing isn’t working any more.
Mark Schaefer, in his new book, Marketing Rebellion, observes that his Chief Marketing Officer friends who represent some of the biggest names in the business, without exception all feel they are falling behind… on everything
They say things are just not working like they used to.
These are some of the biggest marketing stars at the most famous brands.
They’re experienced, deeply respected executives with some of the biggest companies in the world. They have limitless resources, access to the best people, and premier agency partner relationships. And yet they echoed the same desperate sentiment that many small businesses, and entrepreneurs with little or no budget feel.
Nothing seems to work anymore.
Identifying Your Niche
The book has interesting insights which has sparked off ideas for my marketing. I’ll be sharing some information about that in the future.
For what I’m about to communicate, the part that stood out for me was Schaefer’s suggestion that for your marketing to stand a chance of working, you need to make sure you accurately identify your “place” - what you want to be known for.
He suggests to then define your space – which should be an uncontested niche to tell your story.
Once you’ve done that Schaefer explains how important it is to create effective content to convey your message and build an actionable audience. I’ll be working on these elements over the coming months.
It’s about much more than just generating good content.
Creating More Than Brand Online Course
When I recently created my new online course to help businesses position or reposition their brands, I was able to reposition the Azrights business in the process.
At the time I hadn’t read Schaefer’s book.
My “place” – what I want Azrights and myself to be known for – is branding and trade marks, branding and copyright, branding and intellectual property, as opposed to just trademarks, or copyright or intellectual property legal protection.
Copyright, Trademarks, Intellectual Property
As an intellectual property law firm Azrights is currently positioned to deal with the legal side of branding – trademarking, copyright, and intellectual property. But it hasn’t previously provided branding services. Now, due to our repositioning, it does provide branding services.
So, we’ll be making various changes to the website so that in future it is quite clear to site visitors that Azrights also offers branding.
Drawing on my 15+ years of running a business I am well placed to support businesses with their branding. I have studied marketing mainly because it totally absorbs me as a subject. I read lots of marketing books, attend many marketing and social media related courses, and so, it’s a subject I feel comfortable helping clients with.
My next book will be on branding.
What Branding Isn’t
Unfortunately, there is a widespread misconception that branding is all about a logo or visual identity work.
I’ve experienced branding of that type first hand on two occasions, both in my own businesses (twice), and when supporting branding projects helping agencies with name clearance or advising on other aspects of intellectual property.
The first experience I had personally with branding didn’t work out so well because I hadn’t thought through my brand for myself first before approaching designers. The second experience worked mainly because I’d done all the business thinking beforehand for myself.
Branding services combined with IP
The fact that I will be able to combine branding with intellectual property is what brings real value to the niche Azrights will henceforth occupy.
The disciplines of branding and intellectual property are so closely intertwined as to be inseparable. Yet intellectual property is not well understood by the branding industry as a whole.
Problems When Branding And IP Are Not Aligned
I see many problems when branding is divorced from intellectual property. The person who loses out when branding and intellectual property are not aligned is the business owner, and often they’re quite unaware that their identity is the root cause of the problem.
When certain issues arise in their business, such as a competitor muscling in on their turf, they don’t realise that the name they’re using is the reason they are vulnerable and unable to fight back to stave off the unfair competition.
Separating the two disciplines doesn’t generally give the best results
Bedding in New Positioning for Azrights
Once this positioning is bedded into the Azrights business and our website, it means Azrights will occupy a unique place.
It will be the first law firm that offers branding services to its clients in addition to intellectual property protection. Azrights will deliver some of the branding services through its sister company Azrights International Ltd.
Reason for Repositioning
When I initially set up Azrights back in 2005, intellectual property law firms were few and far between. So, IP was a good niche positioning for my firm to adopt.
At the time, in 2005, solicitors tended to handle litigious matters, copyright, and IP strategy while patent and trade mark attorney firms dealt with the registration of trade marks, designs, and patents.
I was being different in offering the A to Z of IP services – a full registration and litigation service as well as drafting of legal agreements.
However, this positioning soon looked run of the mill as the division between the two professions began to break down. Patent and trade mark firms soon began offering litigation work, while law firms delved into trade mark registration work.
Dozens of Other IP Firms
So, one reason the IP niche needed to change was this. A few years after Azrights was founded, dozens of intellectual property law firms began sprouting up, virtually overnight. Most of them now handle registration work and while IP was still a specialist subject back in 2005, it’s increasingly ceased to be niche.
The subject is now quite mainstream as non-specialist law firms, such as company commercial lawyers offer intellectual property work, including trade mark registration.
So, I could see the writing on the wall. It was time to make a change to our niche positioning.
The decision to encompass branding within our niche made complete sense from many perspectives.
Why Include Branding Services?
While the traditional path for law firms is to offer the full range of legal services as they expand and grow, the most important consideration for me was my own interests.
I’ve always wanted to do more than just legal work. That’s why I became an in-house lawyer at Reuters. I wanted to be involved in the commercial side of life, to advise on more than just law.
The branding industry currently comprises a plethora of design related companies essentially offering visual design identity work.
Some of them delve into the business side, but essentially the problem they have is that they are running too tight timescales and therefore their clients don’t have all the time they may need in order to properly think through the business issues that arise from the branding exercise.
So, there is a high risk of simply ending up with pretty designs, as I found to my cost after my first branding exercise.
Need for More Education
So, I believe that what is needed is more branding educational providers to help businesses to properly think through their branding before turning to designers for their visual identity work.
The current branding landscape is dominated by designers. And there are many law firms who offer intellectual property services to support branding agencies.
However, none of them is helping businesses with branding support. So, nobody currently occupies the position of offering branding along with trademarks, or branding along with copyright, or branding as well as intellectual property advice and protection – until now.
That is the position Azrights will occupy
As mentioned the two disciplines are intricately intertwined in a way that perhaps branding professionals who do not work with intellectual property law are sufficiently aware.
Otherwise, it wouldn’t be so common to see brand identities based around descriptive names that are incapable of being uniquely owned. Nor would it be so common to see brands that are unprotected because the branding agency didn’t discuss legal protection when quoting for the work.
Why descriptive names are a problem
Any name may be registered with a logo, and many are. However, that doesn’t give the client any protection over the name if the name is too descriptive to function as a trade mark.
When a name can’t be uniquely owned, the client can experience a number of problems.
Every business must use a name that can function as a trade mark (that is a word mark) because having unique rights to a name is what enables the business to protect its revenues.
It always saddens me when a client comes to us because a “me too” competitor has muscled in on their turf. If the client has a descriptive name then there is little they can do to prevent the competitor stealing their market share.
A passing off action against a competitor who is using the same generic name as you would be throwing good money after bad, although I have seen many law firms take on such cases.
If you can’t uniquely own your brand name then you’re extremely vulnerable.
Branding and Intellectual Property Are Connected
Branding and intellectual property thinking need to go hand in hand. It’s no good creating the brand and then leaving the client to seek out lawyers to help them protect it.
By offering both branding and intellectual property insights, I can help clients in a unique way. Firstly, to identify a suitable niche, then to get their brand strategy and name sorted and once all that is clear, that’s when design services would be appropriate – an area that Azrights has no intention currently to occupy.
I am looking into using designers, developers and social media marketers that belong to reputable bodies who have codes of conduct to protect consumers. Or we may create our own code of conduct as well.
Mistakes people make
I see many mistakes around branding that I myself made when I first set up in business, such as paying far too much for “branding” which ultimately just consisted of some pretty designs.
I didn’t know enough about business at the time, and effectively abdicated responsibility for branding my business to a graphic design agency simply because I didn’t realise that branding was about much more than visual design work.
Much of the thinking about branding needs to come from the business owner, and these things take time. So, new businesses should avoid spending large sums of money on the logo and other designs until they’re clear about their business brand strategy.
It’s essential to have access to a deep understanding of both intellectual property and business when you’re creating or fine-tuning your brand.
Protecting your ideas and IP as you develop your positioning, name, tagline line and business plan is what branding involves. Therefore, these are best dealt with together before seeking help with visual identity work.
This is the new Azrights niche. You’ll find plenty of Intellectual Property law firms and plenty of branding agencies, but nothing that combines branding with trademarks, branding with copyright, or branding with IP. Yet these belong together.
I feel strongly about this subject because it’s important to me to impact, inspire clients and teach clients what is involved to brand themselves so they can make their positive contribution to the world.
I have just launched a new online course called More Than Brand. It will help you get clarity on how to position your business in the market and protect your distinctiveness.
By signing up for Legally Branded Newsletter, You will gain insights every week on intellectual property. Paying attention to IP is the way to discover what steps to take to preserve the value of your assets, to grow your profit margins, create new income streams, protect your market share, and prevent competitors from copying your ideas.