Intellectual property is the sum of the distinct components that make up a brand and the brand's campaign. These components include the service or product's name, logo, slogan, script of the commercial, music that accompanies the commercial, design of the product, design of the product's packaging, distinctive colors of the product or its packaging, paper ad copy, appearance of the retail location, unique sounds and smells that are associated with the product or brand campaign, and the website's content.
Organizations that seek to maintain long-term staying power and create a greater return on investment must incorporate an intellectual property strategy into their creative and innovative processes. Doing so will help protect the brand and its products from knock-offs and copycat companies seeking to funnel off the brand's customers.
A brand's intellectual property can be protected through the use of copyrights, trademarks, trade dress, trade secrets, and design patterns. By protecting every aspect of a brand's advertising campaign, the brand will last longer, have a stronger impact, and increase the company's return on investment.
Organizations also need to conduct an assessment of other company's existing intellectual property rights before they begin to create a new product or brand, to ensure that they will not face costly lawsuits further down the line. The traditional approach to creating a new product or brand is referred to as the "silo approach."
In this method, research and development develop ideas for new products and services, then a patent counsel determines the patentability of that product or service. If it is patentable, then they may apply for patents, and the project moves on to the marketing department where it is branded and advertisements are created.
The project is then moved forward to a trademark/advertising counsel where they determine whether the advertising/marketing campaign will infringe on any other company's rights. They also check on the availability of trademarks, and apply for them accordingly.
This linear route allows each party to work in their own silo, offering their input at specific points in the product's life cycle, but primarily remaining in their own group. Although traditional, the silo approach is not very cost or time effective for several reasons.
First, research and development may end up spending a large amount of time outlining a product or service that, unbeknownst to them, was already patented. The patent counsel only discovers this after the research and development department has invested time, energy, and money into the product or service, which forces them to start all over again.
The same situation applies to the marketing and trademark departments. The marketing team may come up with an interesting logo for a product that will be distributed and advertised internationally, but they may not realize that a company in Japan has created a very similar logo, which is trademarked.
When the trademark counsel discovers this, the marketing team has already wasted countless hours and dollars developing the logo and incorporating it into a proposed marketing strategy. In the brand rewired approach, however, all departments communicate with each other at every point in the product or service's life cycle.
Finance, research and development, brand/ad agency, marketing, trademark/advertising counsel, consumer insights, and the patent counsel are all working together in a continuous manner. In this way, the company can ensure that no time will be wasted on ideas and strategies that are already held as another corporation's intellectual property.
This interconnected style is largely a result of the evolution from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, where collaboration resulted in large amounts of innovation and progress within the technological sphere. This way of operating has now worked its way into the business sphere, and companies everywhere are beginning to realize that by tapping into the global marketplace of shared knowledge, they can improve their ideas and heighten their competitive edge.
In this approach, it is essential that executive leadership creates the position of Brand Maestro within the organization to oversee the creation and maintenance of the brand and its intellectual property.
Samantha Johnson is the social media manager of Business Book Summaries.
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