Why your brand is intellectual property
Branding is the public face of your business, writes Cameron Jones, and it needs to be protected.
Your branding is more than just a pleasing set of fonts, colours and logos. At its best, it stands for what your business stands for. It’s a visual representation of your history and purpose. For many people, it IS your business. And something with that emotional power has a value above and beyond the cost of your brand guidelines.
When you consider the intangible value of your branding, we believe it should be seen as your company’s intellectual property. It should be properly defined, maintained and used by your company to optimise your market position and value.
A Change In Attitude
Many people assume that branding is just a logo. It is not.
It’s the colours, fonts, imagery and tone. It’s specific wording, from catchphrases and taglines to the codified use of certain language or styles. And, as Finn from iiNet might testify, it might even be a physical presence.
Few people realise that a brand therefore is an intangible asset, but one with a very clear value. It is built, owned, encouraged, bought or sold, and without proper management, can be undermined, sold, copied and misused.
Setting The Rules
For a brand to be seen as IP it needs to be defined. Typically, this is done through a style guide or brand manual. This is a document that outlines, step-by-step what a brand constitutes and how it should be used.
A well-defined brand doesn’t just help you get the most of your marketing, it’s an asset that streamlines communications, helps you gain market visibility and can add value to your company’s products, staff, balance sheet and share price.
Protecting Your Brand
How people use your brand is your business. The use (or misuse) of your brand is something you should take seriously. Developing a style guide or brand manual therefore is vital. Employing confusing visual communications undermine your business. If your brand looks different from one day to the next, it weakens confidence in what you do.
If your company and branding assets are public, unique, or integral to your point of difference as a company, it may be worth trademarking such assets. This will give you a stronger position should legal action be needed.
A Word Of Warning
Protecting your brand is important, but it does create the potential for negative perceptions. It’s not just lawyers who interact with your brand, so considering a legal response to misuse doesn’t always encourage positive headlines!