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Branding With Ex-McKinsey Consultant and Serial Entrepreneur

Branding With Ex-McKinsey Consultant and Serial Entrepreneur

Today’s podcast interview is with Tom Gardner, a serial entrepreneur, who formerly worked at McKinsey.

During the interview, we discuss the various ways in which he tackled business design in several business ventures he’s initiated.

I found this episode interesting for 3 reasons.

Firstly, Tom’s description of being on the receiving end of pitches from branding agencies was an eye opener.

Many agencies put incredible amounts of time and energy into coming up with THE single best idea for the brand. Tom felt backed into a corner emotionally by this. He would have preferred a much less prescriptive approach.

Secondly, when naming a B2C business Tom tested to assess which names resonated most with consumers.

I’m not so sure this is a good idea from a legal perspective.

There’s the danger that your desired domains and social media handles get taken once you publicise the name. So, you’d first need to secure them, which adds to the time and expense involved. Even then, it doesn’t stop a third party registering the name as their trademark. There’s little you could do beyond abandoning the name and starting again. Why risk losing a good name?

When I come up with a name that excites me, the first thing I do before revealing it to others, is to register whatever domains I want and to file a trademark application. So, I’d advise against publicising a name to get feedback on it.

A third issue the episode brought up for me was also around the name: there were so many considerations Tom took into account when choosing the name. Yet legal considerations were left till the name was chosen and he had become invested in it.

The risk with this approach is that you’re not going to lightly give up the name and change it unless it clearly conflicts with another brand.

Even then, I’ve come across people who are adamant about using a name they’ve decided upon despite it being risky or infringing on a third party’s rights.

This tendency to leave the legal considerations till the end of the process is why people often end up choosing poor names like Clubcard. (See IP is a Shield and a Sword Protecting Differentiation for downsides of that name).

It’s so important to consider the brand protection dimension early on when choosing names.

I’d suggest involving a specialist brand lawyer at the start of the process so you get their view on whether name(s) you’re considering are legally effective before you get too caught up with issues like whether consumers like a name or whether the name suits your desired positioning.

While you could leave legal availability checking till the end of the process, knowing whether a name can function as a trademark or not is essential information to know so you avoid getting too excited about unsuitable names.

Otherwise, the risk is you won’t want to change the name even if it’s an ill-advised choice from a variety of perspectives.

The starting point with business design should be the IP dimension. And I’d suggest choosing several names instead of just one, so you’re not overly attached to a single name.

If you’re interested to learn more about business design, I’m doing a series of videos on my personal Brand Tuned YouTube channel so you might want to subscribe and watch the latest video How to Build a Brand Using Intellectual Property.

The benefit of involving a brand lawyer in your naming ventures is that they’d be able to tell you whether a name might not be trademarkable, or whether it would be too weak from a brand protection perspective to be worth pursuing. You want such insights really early on so you can abandon names that are not worth pursuing from an intellectual property perspective.

Here’s the link to the episode on our new YouTube channel if you like to watch podcasts on video.

And if you prefer to listen to them on your preferred podcast platform there are links on the podcast page of the Brand Tuned website.

Do listen and let me have any feedback.

The next podcast episode will be released on 5th July.