Our latest blog article is written by John F Kennedy, head of client services at specialist trade mark firm Wildbore & Gibbons LLP.  John is originally from a brand development and professional services management background, and now specialises in brand protection.  Wildbore & Gibbons is one of our Charter signatories.

John writes: As one of the signatories to the IP Inclusive Charter, we are one of the firms promoting inclusivity and diversity in our sector. We are fortunate that in our 130 year history we have developed a diverse client base spanning a range of sectors, cultures, peoples and geographical locations.

Brands have always sought “exclusivity” in some form or another, to differentiate their products or service offering from their host of competitors. The new challenge in our highly scrutinized, 24/7 online media world is to be authentic, inclusive and transparent in all activities as an integral aspect of doing business – not simply as a clever marketing campaign.

The new brand challenge facing clients in every sector is to be more “inclusive” in every aspect of their business. This includes every facet of business – the operational; the logistical; supplier and distributor relationships and employee and stakeholder engagement.

Brand protection has always been founded on solid trade mark advice from your friendly neighbourhood trade mark attorney. The spectrum of protection has now expanded across a new brand continuum – overseeing brand and reputation management in every aspect of the modern business. Brand behaviour is not just minutely examined but any flaws not befitting the brand can be communicated and commented on in the online world in seconds. The “empowered” consumer can be a positive advocate, the “disgruntled” consumer can have a very negative impact on reputation and long term brand credibility.

Brand development can no longer be the relatively simple creative project of a brilliant advertising campaign. To engage a sophisticated consumer market, and also boost awareness and sales it must include the ability and commitment to live the values of an inclusive, diverse, responsible and authentic brand.

The cynical old hands of branding may nod sagely and then construct a marketing campaign utilizing the new elements that market research deems essential for the market place, including more diverse people in adverts.  However, real authenticity and transparency are increasingly demanded by the younger consumer. 2017 has seen a plethora of research focusing on the new consumer mindset. This new mindset creates opportunities for those brands that have the leadership, commitment and focus to adapt to what is now seen as the “new normal”.

Diversity is becoming less of a “challenge” and can be seen from a business point of view as an essential component of business which creates opportunities to engage. The new consumers are likely to celebrate difference, draw their influences from a diverse range of multicultural touchpoints and take a more fluid approach to traditional identifiers such as gender and ethnicity.

Google recently commented that diversity is a long way from being “solved” within the business community because it is seen partly as a “trend” along with other areas such as “mindfulness”. Many companies are focusing on filling quotas to address diversity rather than attempt the more revolutionary task of changing culture to promote inclusivity as a competitive advantage. Nishma Robb, Google’s Chair of Women and Head of Ads recently said that the pace is slow: “I sometimes think the evolution of man happened faster than gender equality”.

Brands that lack the leadership to truly embrace and embed diversity and inclusivity are limiting their market and their long term sustainability.

It is worth considering when planning brand campaigns how your activity will be perceived in every section of society and whether your trade mark has appeal in every possible market where your product may be sold.

If you would like to write a blog article for IP Inclusive, on anything diversity related, please email Emily Teesdale of Abel & Imray. Guest bloggers are always very welcome!   

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