A lot, possibly too much, is written about brands, but the reality is that brands are now big business and are here to stay. We and much of the developed and developing world rely on brands in our day to day life, more than we probably realise.
As a consequence, brands are rightly seen as extremely valuable business assets. Forbes currently lists Apple as the number 1 brand with a value exceeding $150billion. However, brands are no longer limited to the names of products, such as Coke (No. 4 and valued at $58.5 billion) or services such as Facebook (No. 5 valued at $52.6 billion), buildings and individuals now have their own brands too.
Depending on which newspaper you read you will be assaulted by a myriad of brands such as Trump, Google, Kardashian, before you even get to the paid-for advertisements.
And the back pages are no different. Sports teams, especially in football, are no longer just linked to a local community, but often major international brands in their own right. Manchester United is considered the world’s most valuable sports team at $2.23 billion, notwithstanding their current form over the last 18 months.
But why stop there? Major sporting and entertainment venues are also no longer known by their location, but by the brand of a sponsor. For many ‘The Emirates’ means a football stadium in North London as much, or perhaps even more than, a major international airline.
And then there are the performers. It is now common place for major sport stars to earn considerable sums from their image rights and in some cases more than they do from actually playing the sport itself.
Not only are brands here to stay, I believe their importance and value will continue to increase. There is now without doubt a greater awareness of and desire for brands across all ages and cultures. As the world grows ever smaller and more connected, through various online means and social media, brands can now be created quickly, inexpensively and internationally.
There will be a proliferation of international brands that emerge and it should be expected that a new or little known brand today will challenge for a top ten place within a decade.
So as we have seen businesses and board rooms recognise the value of brands as never before, companies are increasingly being bought and sold because of the power of their brands. Venture capitalists invest in brands. Rightfully, they know consumers are prepared to pay a premium for certain brands.
However brands only realise their full value and potential if they are properly managed and successfully exploited across multiple product service areas and/or geographies.
To do this one needs to ensure that the brand in question is free for exploitation and use, not just in the domestic home market, but in all markets where it will or might be used by you or by someone else who is prepared to pay handsomely for the privilege of doing so.
It also needs to be protected, principally through registration and enforced. Both cost money but are essential elements in enhancing and guaranteeing the value of the brand.
As their value grows and brands are increasingly seen as prized business assets, so expert guidance becomes even more important. Creating and implementing clearance, protection and enforcement strategies are key skills of a Chartered Trade Mark Attorney.
For many companies where branding is at the fore, the role of their Charted Trade Mark Attorney, whether in house, external, or a combination of both, has never been more important.
Chartered Trade Mark Attorneys are experts in design and trade mark law and practice. They are extremely well placed to provide both strategic advice and legal expertise in this continually evolving arena.
Chartered Trade Mark Attorneys are governed the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys (CITMA) and regulated by The Intellectual Property Regulator, IPReg.
Mark Foreman is an Executive at Rouse & Co International LLP and a member of the Chartered Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys.