Innovation is a common buzzword these days, as companies search for new and unique ways to distinguish themselves and even turn a profit. How do companies large and small stand out among their competitors in today’s economy? How does a company turn an idea into a billion dollar intellectual asset, which ultimately strengthens its balance sheet and/or attractiveness to potential investors or purchasers? One way is to better understand how to build a solid brand identity that stands out and outlasts the others. When brand clearance and management is an afterthought that follows instead of intersects with the creative process, companies fail to take full advantage of the value of that brand. Companies with an understanding and appreciation for all of the factors that go into building an effective, competitive branding campaign will reap the benefits of a brand identity that enjoys strength, longevity, a more significant impact on the marketplace, and a far greater return on the initial investment.

Many companies create a product or begin offering services without giving much, if any, thought to the many components that can be protected as intellectual property assets. A common misconception about intellectual property and the creative process is the assumption that intellectual property is limited to patents. But as it relates to the branding process, intellectual property includes clearing and protecting many other facets of the branding campaign, including some or all of the following* :

  • Name
  • Logo  
  • Tagline or Slogan  
  • Product design  
  • Package design  
  • Distinctive colors or scents  
  • Ad copy  
  • Scripts associated with commercial advertisements  
  • Point of sale display look and feel  
  • Website content  
  • Offensive domain name registrations  
  • Spokesperson’s name, image, and likeness

These components can be protected under trademark, copyright, trade secret, trade dress, rights of publicity, and design patent. Failure to thoroughly flesh out all protectable components of a campaign early on can result in a variety of negative outcomes ranging from defending an un-necessary lawsuit, to being forced to re-brand after having spent a considerable sum on marketing and corresponding collateral, or even face financial ruin. It simply doesn’t have to be that way. Engaging knowledgeable intellectual property counsel at the outset of the creative process can help companies successfully navigate the branding waters. Intellectual property counsel can create a cost-effective strategy to identify potential infringement issues, insightfully evaluate the strength of a proposed name (even make recommendations for stronger, more distinctive alternatives), negotiate the purchase of senior rights, draft iron-clad licenses to use an individual’s name, image, and likeness, secure copyright protection in creative content, and craft expertly written documents to protect trade secrets critical to a company’s success, and much more.

Innovation manifests itself in many ways. In this case, it involves crafting an all-inclusive approach, marrying intellectual property and the creative process from the beginning, rather than at a point in time when it is too late to realize all the benefits afforded a strong, pervasively marketable brand identity that can ultimately be worth far more than the initial investment. The brand identity of the Company that encourages timely collaboration between its business executives, research and development team, and marketers, while engaging top-notch legal experts in the intellectual property field, will ultimately dominate.