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What Is Joined-up Business Design?

What Is Joined-up Business Design?

What does it mean to provide a joined-up business design or branding service?

A joined-up service involves considering brand protection as an intrinsic part of creative decision making, such as when choosing a business’ name and visual identity.

When you bring both perspectives into focus together, you make better decisions because you can assess effectiveness based on a business‘ plans. 

For example, a name might be suitable for a business that intends to trade in a small geographic area yet that same name might be completely unsuitable for a business that intends to trade in multiple jurisdictions. That’s because some names are intrinsically stronger than others.

A strong name makes everything easier. Among other things, it’s easier to stop other people using similar domain names. It’s also more cost effective to secure trademark registration internationally. But some names, though strong, may not be so effective when promoting a new business.

So, it’s important to consider both brand creation and brand protection when designing a brand.

A benefit of thinking about brand protection before finalising the choice of name is that you get to assess how easy it is to enforce rights in a name. Names are how you manage competition so choosing a weak one leaves you open to theft of your market share.

There’s a widespread belief that intellectual property is all about identifying and protecting what a business has already created. People assume that protection is a separate exercise that’s optional and can be left till a business is successful. That’s how you can end up with a name that is very difficult to enforce against copyists. 

Also, when brand creation is divorced from brand protection, it means the choice of name and other brand elements is first made. Then at some point down the line, sometimes years later, a business might decide to seek trademark registration to protect its brand

Two types of problem can arise at that stage:

Firstly, the business might discover that someone else has trademarked a similar name. That registration either blocks their ability to secure a trademark or, if the conflict is less severe, it presents a hurdle that they need to overcome through negotiation and compromise.

Alternatively, people find out that their name can’t function as a trademark because it’s unsuitable from a trademark perspective, often because the name is too descriptive. When that happens, the business is in a weak position to fend off copying. The upshot is that it adversely impacts the business’ revenues.

The suitability of a name should be considered from a brand protection perspective before finalising the choice because it’s expensive to rebrand.

Thinking about both brand creation and brand protection at the same time isn’t just about doing a search of the trademark registers to check whether a name is available to use. It’s about considering whether a name is suitable for a business’ plans from a brand protection perspective. It’s about allowing brand protection considerations to influence the choice.

It’s rare to receive a joined-up service whether in the branding or the legal industry. That’s because designers and marketers understand how to create brands but not how to protect them, while lawyers know how to protect brands but not how to create them.

Azrights is the only law firm offering joined-up business design support through coaching and courses. That’s because I’ve spent 5+ years learning how to create a brand, including through running a podcast on the topic.

A while ago I wrote a blog A million-pound mistakes in which I explained why Clubcard was a poor choice of name for Tesco’s loyalty card scheme. It’s a classic example of what can happen when brand protection is separated from business design.

I suggested that a name like Tescocard would have been far stronger, enabling Tesco to derive more benefit from its innovative loyalty card scheme.

So, if you’re rebranding or setting up a new business consider using the Azrights Brand Tuned coaching offering we’re introducing. There’s currently a Bonus free visual identity design or UK trademark registration in 3 classes included. Just send me a quick email to [email protected] for more information if you’re interested.