What do you call a vegetarian beef burger?

24 May 2019

Regular readers of this blog will know I am somewhat obsessed with the names of companies, products and services.

So often during my advice clinics I ‘help’ my clients discover the name they had chosen for their business has already been registered as a trade mark at the UK Intellectual Property Office. At this point some of them say they will no longer be able to start their business without the name they had their heart set on.

I explain that any name can work for a business. As long as it is legal, available and memorable. For example who would have thought these names based on fruit would have become associated with successful ventures (including the most valuable brand in the world).

Apple

Apple2

But, if you can come up with a great name for a business then so much the better. For instance what would you call a vegetarian beef burger? A Vurger of course. And that is exactly what The Vurger Co has done.

Vurger-co

You can read their story in detail here, but it is interesting to see that the idea started with health issues in a similar way to Deliciously Ella. And they way they initially tested the concept with a market stall. The best way to get feedback on a new edible product. I’m looking forward to finding out if they taste as good as they look.

Now I think about it, perhaps Vurger is too good a name, and they risk committing ‘Genericide’ in the long-term. This BBC website article explains how some brands that became household names lost the rights to their very own trade mark. ‘Genericide’: Brands destroyed by their own success. Maybe they will need to follow Google’s example and publish “rules for proper usage” of all its trademarks.

 


Arganic Oil a niche Success Story

6 August 2012

Arganic_Argan_OilDespite being a ‘jack of all-trades and master of none‘ librarian, I have to admit to not having heard of Argan Oil before. But thanks to Dana Elemara the founder of Arganic I now know much more than I did.

According to Wikipedia Argan oil is a plant oil produced from the kernels of the Argan tree. It is found in Morocco, and is valued for its nutritive, cosmetic and numerous medicinal properties.

The Arganic Oil website expresses it more evocatively:

Argan oil is one of the healthiest and rarest oils in the world coming from the UNESCO protected argan tree. Often nicknamed ‘liquid gold’ this oil was the Berber people’s secret for centuries

It takes approximately 15 hours and 30kg of fruit to produce just 1 litre of argan oil. This lengthy process involves skilled handwork that has been passed down from generations.

In late summer the argan fruit ripens and falls to the ground where it is gathered. It is then laid out in the sun to dry. To make the oil, the dried outer fruit is first removed, then, using traditional artisanal techniques involving stones, the seeds are extracted from the hard inner shell.

Argan TreeUp to this point everything is done by hand, furthermore it is only women involved and this employment provides not only a good source of income in a poor region but an opportunity for them to gain independence. The process is governed by cooperatives who also give these women access to free education, and use some of the profits of the argan oil trade to benefit the local tribes and communities.

The seeds are then cold pressed to extract the oil. Nothing is wasted in the process, the fruit pulp is fed to cattle and the leftover seed pulp is used as fuel. At Arganic we have strict controls at every stage of production.

Dana had attended a couple of events and courses at the Business & IP Centre, but is still relatively new to the library. But it sounds like we have already been of help.

‘I trademarked my name only after being aware of it through the free IP seminar at the British Library and it was one of the best things I could have done at the start of my business as I have come across and won IP issues since.’

Here is her story:

Dana had heard about argan oil through relatives that were raving about it but found it difficult to get hold of in the UK. It was then that she decided to leave her mathematical and corporate background behind and the idea for Arganic came about. Luckily Dana had friends living in Morocco who put her through to the right people and the more she learned about this oil the more she fell in love with it and the important social impact it plays for women in Morocco.

Update

I’ve just received this exciting update from Dana:

What a lovely post, thank you so much. There have been so many things happen since we last met, details on my last newsletter here, including TV appearances. Also last week my argan oil won a gold award from The Guild of Fine Foods, and today I found out that I won a Shell Livewire Grand Ideas award which gives me £1000 and free PR. They said I achieved the highest points in my category, and am now in the run for Young Entrepreneur of the Year which is announced in November. So I am extremely pleased right now.

I am still visiting the library and recommending the business centre constantly.

All the best, Dana

Arganic founder Dana Elemara

Arganic founder Dana Elemara


An Aga Saga blog – to write home about

19 April 2012

aga-ladyI last blogged about Aga cookers way back in June 2008 (Aga goes Web 2.0). Well, they have finally seen the social media light (Blogging for fun and profit) and started a blog.

Rather painfully it is called The World According to Lady Aga, I’m guessing Lady Gaga is unlikely to take action, as she has against Moshi Monsters (Lady Gaga wins injunction against Lady Goo Goo) and the Icecreamists (Milking a story for all it’s worth). After all the AGA brand is nearly 60 years older than Lady G.

On the positive side, it does publish some interesting facts about the expensive cookers (AGA inventor was a Nobel Prize winner), as well as some tasty recipes. And, more importantly, it has a sense of humour, with AGA Characters: Retired Rock Chick, and AGA Characters: Yummy Mummy just two examples.

So the occasional post about new product launches or expansion into new territories can be easily forgiven.


Effective Writing And Communications with Kimberly Davies and Steve Trister

15 September 2011

Kimberly_DavisYesterday I attended another of Kimberly DaviesMarketing Masters days. This time the topic was Effective Writing And Communications and featured guest speaker Steve Trister the creator of Performance Dynamite.

I not sure if Kimberly is a geographer at heart, but the four days I have attended have been located in south, east, north and now west London. I’m not sure where she will go next now we have covered all four compass points.

One of the consequences of moving to a new location each time, is that the rooms often have technical glitches with the sound or vision, or in yesterdays case, both.

Kimberly copes with these challenging starts to the day with an impressive level of  professionalism and humour.

steve_TristerKimberly spoke for most of the day and was excellent, however the highlight of the day for me was actor and business coach Steve Trister the from Performance Dynamite..

He walked to front of the room wearing a doctors mask and mumbled something to. That got our attention. He then asked us to name the number one disease in business. We came up with a range of suggestions, but failed to give the correct answer; Vomiticus Contentinaatum – otherwise known as puking content, or verbal diarrhoea.

I have to admit that working in one of the largest libraries in the world with over 150 million items in our collection, this is a disease I am all too well aware of falling prey to.

The cure to this disease is to make an emotional connection with your audience (of one or more). This of course is much easier to say than to do. So you need to prepare, by building the right mindset.

You need to tell yourself every day that you are already connected to your audience, then you need to mentally rehearse by visualising the event in advance (some of which will be scripted, and some not). This is similar to the way professional athletes prepare for a competition.

You need to be clear on the emotion you want to conjure up, be in state (or in the moment with no distractions), and to commit 100% to the performance.

Steve had investigated the famous research by Albert Mehrabian on non-verbal communication. He found the commonly quoted result, that clues from spoken words, from the voice tone, and from the facial expression, contribute 7 %, 38 %, and 55 % respectively to the total meaning, is wrong, as it it relates only to the communication of positive versus negative emotions.

Our voice is critical to how we communicate to our audience, changes in vocal emphasis (the stress we put on specific words) can completely change the meaning of what we saying. He asked how often do we take note of how we are actually speaking. He explained that our tongues are muscles, so we should exercise them using tongue twisters.

He also covered body language and the use of gestures, and how these can be used to reinforce or undermine our verbal messages. He said we should practice expressing our business activity in the form of charades. This made my mind boggle at how I could show the British Library through mime.

Steve illustrated each of these points with victims (sorry volunteers) from the audience, and guided them through. For the final example he had a professional photographer give an excellent and clear mime of his business.

Finally he said we should find an emotional story that will relate to your audience.

Needless to say Steve used all of these techniques during one of the most engaging and memorable presentations I have ever seen.

You can see a YouTube video of Steve in action, and an interview with Smarta.com.

Here are my notes from the rest of the excellent day:

Learn the 20 rules of communication that should never be broken

Kimberly’s no. 1 life lesson;
“You can reach anyone in the world with, seven phone calls or less, saying the right thing.”

Statistics show that 50% of marketing spend is wasted.

Led to the idea for Sarsaparilla – to detox your marketing – Marketing Purification

Definition of marketing
Anything that affects the perception of your company. From logos to staff behaviour.

You are exposed to 4,000 brands every day. So how does your business stand out?

Know your audience
–    Who is your target market?
–    Who is your idea client / decision maker?
–    What motivates them?
–    Profile (gender, age, health, wealth, culture, interests, position, salary, budget, etc)

Then put yourself into their shoes.
–    How can you make their life easier?
–    What is in it for them?

Then find your voice (written language).
–    Who would narrate your content?
–    Think of a character of personality best suited – perhaps Steven Fry for the British Library
–    Who would your audience relate to and want to hear? Admire? Look up to? Believe
–    Imagine their voice each time you create marketing content

Keywords
–    Ten words that best describe your business – For the Business & IP Centre: innovation, inventions, information, support, advice, help, entrepreneurs, business-startup,
–    One word that best describe your business – knowledge

Unique Selling Point
–    What truly makes your business unique – For the Business & IP Centre: The largest free collection of free market research and business information in the world, with expert guidance.

USP
–    You need to be the only…
–    Everyone says, great staff, customer service etc. That is not unique
–    Sarsaparilla – the only marketing purification agency
–    Try to be everything to everyone and you will be nothing to no one.

Misconceptions
–    Write down misconceptions about your company and industry
o    The British Library is a only accessible to senior academics and authors.
o    The British Library is a very big public library.
o    The British Library only has books.

Testimonials
–    Stronger to have others say it for you
–    One to address each misconception – a maximum of five
–    Keep them really short
–    Use white papers and case studies

Focus on the benefits for your customers
–    List them – information, advice, contacts, training
–    What problem can you solve?
–    How can you make their life easier? – a clearer view of what they need to do to start their business

Key Messages
–    What are the three key things you want people to remember about your business?
o    Business & IP Centre at the British Library at St Pancras central London
o    Free workshops and advice
o    Free access to market research and business information.

Branding
–    The trust people have in your company
–    Consistency – with the rest of your business
–    People will judge you from how you look

Professional photos
–    Stock photos are too common – better to use your own commissioned ones

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
–    You have two seconds to make an impression
–    8 year old level reading age for printed materials
–    Get straight to the point
–    Bulleted lists are good, with verbs to start
–    Every word competes

Formula for success and to avoid writers block
–    I’ve got all this information, now how do I organise it?
–    Reverse pyramid order – most important to least important
–    Start with the ‘lead’ – who, what, where, when, how

Navigate
–    Map out where you want them to go
–    Tell them what you want them to do

Incentives
–    Free downloads
–    Upgrades
–    Gifts
–    Discounts
–    Occasion
–    Expiration date
–    First 10 receive
–    Etc

Call to Action
–    Create urgency
–    Why should I stop what I’m doing and buy NOW?
–    Now or lose your audience

Ask questions – keep the dialogue going
–    Show a sincere interest
–    Surveys, feedback, phone
–    What questions would you want to know for market research?

Relevance
–    How can you connect your business to current news?
–    Have an opinion
–    Share your views – become an expert

The Elevator Pitch
–    What is it?
–    The most important tool
–    People decide whether to file or forget you
–    Get everyone in the company to memorise
–    Use it everywhere – keep it consistent – brochures, home page, flyers etc

The who, what, where, when and how of your business

I still think Sarsaparilla’s elevator pitch is the best I have come across;

50% of marketing is wasted. Sarsaparilla is a marketing consulting and training agency that specialises in marketing purification – the process of detoxing your marketing, protecting you from The Flash, Fluff, and Fakers, and helping you make more money with less.


SquidLondon brighten up a rainy autumn day

12 September 2011

emma-jayne_parkes_and_vivian_jaegerSomething of a surprise on my way home tonight to see a full-page advert for our Success Story SquidLondon in the Evening Standard.

Fashion graduates Emma-Jayne Parkes and Viviane Jaeger founded SquidLondon after being inspired by Jackson Pollock. They thought it would be cool to walk down the street, it starts to rain and your clothes turn into a walking Jackson Pollock.

Their first product, the Squidarella, is an umbrella that changes colour as it rains. Developing such an innovative product meant that intellectual property – protecting their ideas – was an essential topic to crack. The pair visited the Business & IP Centre to learn more about how intellectual property applied to them.

Squid have now moved to the bathroom with their latest product : ‘Miss Squidolette’ Shower Curtain!

Miss_Squidolette-Shower_Curtain


How to revive a brand

5 September 2011

On the way home from a recent road trip to Scotland, I made a ‘pit-stop’ at a McDonalds restaurant near Birmingham.

I’m not a regular customer at the ‘golden arches’, so was very surprised to discover a waterless urinal
with a sticker on it saying it saved 100,000 litres of water a year.

urinal

Copyright Sorven Media ltd

This is all part of McDonalds’ efforts to combat the negative press that has built up over the years. In particular the reaction to ‘McLibel’ case and reaction to the 1994 documentary film Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock.

McDonalds have created a website to allow you to Make up your own mind, which currently contains 24,000 questions and answers:

Your Questions
A dedicated Make Up Your Own Mind team from across McDonald’s is working hard to answer your questions. You can ask whatever you want, and we aim to answer even the toughest question within two weeks in an honest and straight-talking fashion. The ‘Questions & Answers’ can be searched either by keyword or by sub-sections – this should help you find the information you’re looking for.

The website also includes reports from their Quality Scouts.

What is a Quality Scout?
Quality Scouts are members of the general public from around the UK who are curious about McDonald’s business. They are not paid, and have no ties to the company. All they do is take an honest, behind the scenes look at McDonald’s and report back. And they’ll tell you exactly what they hear and see.

I have to say I am impressed by their efforts, but wonder what it will take to change public opinion.

Two examples spring to mind:

Fiat cars of the 1970’s, which became notorious for their rust problems.

In response they built the Tipo in the 1980’s (a car I owned), and gave it a fully galvanised body, giving it better rust protection than almost any other car on the market. However, it took many years for their ‘rust bucket’ reputation to disappear.

A more recent (if fictitious) example is from The Archers radio show where an outbreak of E. coli,  has resulted in regular customers deserting Ambridge Organics, despite having been given the all clear several weeks ago.


A Land Rover for all seasons

24 August 2011

The actual Defender that took us through the Serengeti

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am interested in niche products and markets. Previous examples include A cake slice with a musical difference and Luxury foods in terribly bad taste.

Driving to my parents house the other day, I notice an unusual garage by the side of the road in shape of a thatched house (The Thatched Garage). Even more surprising was the extent of the niche of their shiny objects filling the forecourt. Not just off road vehicles, or even just Land Rovers… they only sell the Defender model of Land Rover.

However, they have been doing very well thank you occupying this tiny niche for over twenty years.

Having recently spent two weeks on safari in Tanzania, I have new found admiration for the sturdiness and off-road capability of this particular product of the Land Rover factory. After hours of pummeling on corrugated and rocky roads, I fully expected the vehicle to start shaking itself to pieces. But our driver had spent ten years driving the same car, and explained that all it needed was a thorough service after each adventure to be as good as new.


Brands and companies that last

29 July 2011

KeiunkanI have recently been sent a link to a blog post about 10 Old Brands That Managed to Stay Modern. Although it is a list of US brands, it got me thinking about companies and brands that last. The average lifespan of a company is surprisingly low at just 25 years for listed US companies.

In most cases the key to really long-term survival is being flexible and changing to match or even lead, public taste and new markets.

For instance while on my recent trip to Tanzania I noticed that although local people still buy bottles of Coca-Cola, many more are drinking Kilimanjaro brand water. On examining the bottle closely I was surprised to see it was produced by the very same  Coca-Cola company. This is just one of the many hundreds of brands that they now own.

Another interesting discovery is the high proportion of long lasting companies that are Japanese or German. It may be something to do with how they get passed down through the family to the next generation. The oldest is the Keiunkan hotel, which has been going since 705.


Hello Kitty – Goodbye Cathy

16 June 2011

HelloKitty-vs-CathyI have to admit that children’s characters are not something I have spent much of my time thinking about since my kids left primary school some years ago. Despite this, the distinctive Hello Kitty brand has successfully impinged itself on my consciousness.

Such strong and simple designs obviously have a wide appeal. However, the lesson is that you need to ensure that yours are truly unique to avoid potentially damaging copyright wrangles.

A recent story from the Evening Standard about Cathy from the Hello Kitty range illustrates this problem (Hello Kitty waves goodbye to friend Cathy).

There have been months of legal bickering between the Dutch firm Mercis who own Miffy, the well known Dutch character created by Dick Bruna, and Sanrio, the Japanese owners of the Hello Kitty brand.

In the resulting settlement Sanrio promised to drop the character Cathy. And both will donate £135,000 to the victims of the earthquake in Japan, rather than spend more money on legal fees.


A cake slice with a musical difference

13 June 2011

cake server musicWhilst shopping for a new corkscrew today, I stumbled across another fine example of a niche within a niche, (Luxury foods in terribly bad taste).

This time the niche in question is cake slicers (also known as cake servers).  And I am rather ashamed to admit that the source of, what is in my opinion, a rather naff  product is my homeland the United Kingdom.

As you can see from the photo of the bright pink packaging on the left, the manufacturers are well aware of the rather tacky nature of their product. In fact the Kitsch’n’fun range from Kitchen Craft is deliberately aimed at the fun end of the market.

Kitsch’n’fun is a novelty range of items taking on a life of its own. Having quickly developed with some of the most talked about and fastest selling items available. Ideal accessories or pocket money gifts, the selection continues to grow and appeal to the youngster in all of us!

However, the photo does not tell even half the story. But, fortunately I was able to track down a video of the Cake Server in action on YouTube. Of the choice of four tunes available I think the wedding march has to be my favourite, as my mind boggles at the idea of it in action at some posh wedding. I challenge you to watch the video more than three times in a row.


The re-branding of Beachy Head

7 April 2011

logo_beachy_headThe biggest surprise on my recent four day perambulation along the final section of the South Downs Way, in England’s newest National Park, came on the final day of walking.

Although the established local beer for the area is Harveys, famous for its Tom Paine Ale, and still brewed beside the river Ouse in the heart of Lewes, there is now a new rival.

It comes in the form of Beachy Head Ale, produced in a micro-brewery based in the pretty village of East Dene.

We enjoyed a delightful lunch in their brewerytap pub, the Tiger Inn, sitting in the sun on the village green looking across to Sherlock Holmes’ retirement home.

The surprise came when reading their promotional brochure and discovering the re-branding of Beachy Head. As a relatively local inhabitant, I am well aware of the stunning beauty of Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, but also cognisant of its more well known feature. For most UK residents Beachy Head it is quite literally a jumping off point for those who want to end it all.

This, less attractive aspect has featured in many films, documentaries and news items. Beachy Head suicide spot.

Now, working as I do on the Euston Road opposite Kings Cross Station, I am all too aware of the stigma that can cling to an area, even if that reputation is no longer deserved.

So I was fascinated to see how the Davies-Gilbert family, who have farmed the Beachy Head area for 200 years are attempting to re-invent and re-brand Beach Head. As you can see at Beachy Head.org.uk, it is a beautiful part of the country, with lots to see and do.

While there, I began to notice the clean and modern Beachy Head logo almost everywhere I looked. And it will be interesting to see if the media starts to pick up on this more positive story about the area. However, given their predilection for the gory and ghastly, I have my doubts.

As a geographer, I was somewhat perplexed by the brochure map of the area. I would expect it to concentrate on visitor highlights, but, the designers have decided to omit the large village of Friston. Perhaps because it is adjacent to, and somewhat overwhelms the village of East Dene which appears to be the heart of Beach Head.

Have a look a the maps of area below and see what you think.

Beachy Head Map 3Beach Head Map 1

 

The re-branding of Beach Head

 

Beach Head logo

 

The biggest surprise on my recent four day perambulation along the final section of the South Downs Way, ??? in England’s newest National Park, ??? came on the last day.

 

Although the established local beer for the area is Harveys, famous for its Tom Paine beer, ??? and still brewed beside the river Ouse in the heart of Lewes, ??? there is now a new rival.

 

It comes in the form of Beachy Head Ale,??? produced in a micro-brewery based in the pretty village of East Dene.

 

We enjoyed a delightful lunch in their brewerytap ??? pub, the Tiger Inn, ??? sitting in the sun on the village green looking across to Sherlock Holmes’ retirement house. ???

 

The surprise came when reading their promotional brochure and discovering the re-branding of Beachy Head. As a relatively local inhabitant, I am well aware of the stunning beauty of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, but also cognisant of its more well know aspect. For most UK residents Beachy Head it is quite literally the jumping off point for those who want to end it all.

 

This, less attractive aspect has featured in many films, documentaries and news items. ??? wikipedia – ??? Green Wing clip

 

Now, working as I do on the Euston Road opposite Kings Cross Station, I am all too aware of the stigma that can cling to an area, even if that reputation is no longer deserved. ???

 

So I was fascinated to see how the Davies-Gilbert family, who have farmed the Beachy Head area for 200 years and are attempting to re-invent and re-brand Beach Head. As you can see from the map and at Beachy Head dot org, ??? it is a beautiful part of the country, with lots to see and do.

 

I began to notice the clean and modern Beachy Head logo almost everywhere I looked. It will be interesting to see if the media starts to pick up on this more positive story about the area. But given their predilection for the gory and ghastly, I have my doubts.

 

The re-branding of Beach Head

Beach Head logo

The biggest surprise on my recent four day perambulation along the final section of the South Downs Way, ??? in England’s newest National Park, ??? came on the last day.

Although the established local beer for the area is Harveys, famous for its Tom Paine beer, ??? and still brewed beside the river Ouse in the heart of Lewes, ??? there is now a new rival.

It comes in the form of Beachy Head Ale,??? produced in a micro-brewery based in the pretty village of East Dene.

We enjoyed a delightful lunch in their brewerytap ??? pub, the Tiger Inn, ??? sitting in the sun on the village green looking across to Sherlock Holmes’ retirement house. ???

The surprise came when reading their promotional brochure and discovering the re-branding of Beachy Head. As a relatively local inhabitant, I am well aware of the stunning beauty of the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head, but also cognisant of its more well know aspect. For most UK residents Beachy Head it is quite literally the jumping off point for those who want to end it all.

This, less attractive aspect has featured in many films, documentaries and news items. ??? wikipedia – ??? Green Wing clip

Now, working as I do on the Euston Road opposite Kings Cross Station, I am all too aware of the stigma that can cling to an area, even if that reputation is no longer deserved. ???

So I was fascinated to see how the Davies-Gilbert family, who have farmed the Beachy Head area for 200 years and are attempting to re-invent and re-brand Beach Head. As you can see from the map and at Beachy Head dot org, ??? it is a beautiful part of the country, with lots to see and do.

I began to notice the clean and modern Beachy Head logo almost everywhere I looked. It will be interesting to see if the media starts to pick up on this more positive story about the area. But given their predilection for the gory and ghastly, I have my doubts.

As a geographer, I was somewhat perplexed by the brochure map of the area. I would expect it to concentrate on visitor’s highlights. But, the designers decided to omit the large village of Friston. Perhaps because it is adjacent to, and somewhat overwhelms the village of East Dene which appears to be the heart of Beach Head.

Have a look a the maps of area below and see what you think.

As a geographer, I was somewhat perplexed by the brochure map of the area. I would expect it to concentrate on visitor’s highlights. But, the designers decided to omit the large village of Friston. Perhaps because it is adjacent to, and somewhat overwhelms the village of East Dene which appears to be the heart of Beach Head.

 

Have a look a the maps of area below and see what you think.


An innocent clash of trademarks?

8 March 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot about branding and trademarks recently (Logos with customer appeal – Apples and Marmite).

So this story in yesterday’s Evening Standard caught my eye (I’m innocent over trademark clash, says children’s vitamins maker).

Innocent Vitamins was started by Dawn Reid in July 2010, based in the tiny village of Ashurst Wood in East Sussex, close to where I grew up. According to the Standard article, Mrs Reid claims that her brand was not inspired by Innocent Drinks, and that her customers do not get the two brands mixed up.

However, the smoothie company, founded in 1999, and now with a turnover of £128 million, sees things differently. They say their customers are confused by this new brand, and that using such a distinctive name in a similar category is not an appropriate thing for another company to do.

“We have given the company a way out by respectfully asking them to stop using the brand name, which we believe is more than reasonable, and doubt that most other companies would be so tolerant. We have to protect our brand and everything we have stood for over the past 12 years.”

It seems that Mrs Reid is planing to fight to keep the Innocent Vitamins brand, so this one could run and run.

“I genuinely believe that my company can peacefully coexist with Innocent smoothies, and I would be delighted to meet up with them as we have already offered.”
http://innocentvitamins.blogspot.com/2011/03/innocent-vitamins-refutes-innocent.html

My limited knowledge of trademark law includes the topic of passing-off, and the deciding factor in many court cases is whether a reasonable person would get the two brands confused side by side on a supermarket shelf.

However, as the Intellectual Property Office IPO points out, it can be very difficult, and as a result, expensive to prove a passing off action. http://www.ipo.gov.uk/t-protect-passingoff

If you register your mark, it is easier to take legal action. This allows you to take legal action against infringement of your trade mark, rather than using passing off. Further information is available under Benefits of registered trade mark protection.

I know what I think, but have a look at the photos below and decide for yourself.

innocent_smoothieInnocent_Vitamins

The IPO have a nice summary page on Trademarks on their website.

In summary:

  • A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors. It can be for example words, logos or a combination of both.
  • You can use your trade mark as a marketing tool so that customers can recognise your products or services.
  • A trade mark must be distinctive for the goods and services you provide. In other words it can be recognised as a sign that differentiates your goods or service as different from someone else’s.
  • A registered trade mark must be renewed every 10 years to keep it in force.

Fortunately the IPO make it very simple to search their database of registered here http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-os/t-find.htm


Milking a story for all it’s worth

6 March 2011

The_Monster_Ball_-_Poker_Face_revamped2.jpg: John Robert Charlton aka Bobby Charlton of Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, EnglandLast week I was admiring how successfully the Icecreamists have been at generating publicity for their Baby Gaga ice cream, made from human breast-milk, which costs £14 (Luxury foods in terribly bad taste). Then they had a set-back when their local council removed the milk for testing.

On Friday, yet another newspaper article appeared in the Evening Standard – Baby Gaga: Star takes legal action over London parlour’s breast milk ice cream flavour.

It’s a publicists dream come true. Probably the worlds most famous current pop star is threatening legal action over the ice cream, which her lawyers claim is infringing her Lady Gaga brand.

From a legal point of view, it seems unlikely that Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, also know as Lady Gaga, will win her case against Matt O’Connor the owner of the Icecreamists. He claims the term comes from the early sounds babies make when trying to speak, and has applied to register the trademark.

However, thanks to the Lady Gaga name, this story has now gone global, appearing in American, Russian and Indian newspapers within hours. Mr O’Connor must be rubbing his hands with glee.



Logos with customer appeal – Apples and Marmite

2 March 2011

A recent post on the Graphic Design Blog showed the results of their readers top five logos of all time.

I guess I really wasn’t that surprised to see the Apple logo sitting at number one.

Apple Logo

Although I am old enough to remember the original Apple Corps logo used by the Beatles pop group. Apple and the Beatles: The End of a Long and Winding Road?

Apple_Corps_logo

This talk of logos got me thinking about the power of brands and trademarks in protecting products and services.

The harsh truth about business, is that if you are successful you will have competition, even if you have an invention protected by a patent.

An example would be the Dyson vacuum cleaner, whose Dual Cyclone technology is protected by patents, and yet the courts have allowed a somewhat similar looking cleaner from rival firm VAX to compete – Dyson loses design case.

dyson cleanerVax cleaner

My favourite brand of all time would have to be Marmite yeast extract spread.

(Marmite jar - 250g size Photo by User:Malcolm Farmer, 28 June 2003 Category:Spreads)

This is not because the logo or image are particularly strong, but because since the creation of its secret recipe in 1902, it has managed to maintain a virtual monopoly, with the only rivals being Australian Vegemite and Swiss Cenovis. With sales of 60 million jars a year at over £5 each, one would assume this a market to attract heavy competition.

However, the Marmite brand is so strong that no-one seems to be trying, or certainly succeeding in competing.

As with many products not everyone is a fan, and Marmite have very cleverly used the strong reactions to the flavour of the spread in their recent marketing campaigns.

Marmite - Love it or hate it


More consumer trends from Insider Trends

3 December 2010

My colleague Frances Taylor recently attended an Insider Trends workshop in the Business & IP Centre.

Although I wrote a report on a similar workshop, How to become a cutting-edge retailer, Francis has noted some additional useful points.

Predictions from Insider Trends

Key trend 1: The recession

§        With the new government, spending cuts and changes in policy, it’s entering a new phase.

§        Food and energy costs are rising.

§        There is worry amongst consumers about the recession, even if it does not affect them personally.

§        Consumers are making more considered choices and buying budget brands.

§        Premium or ‘added-value’ products are still doing well, but only if they have real benefits, e.g. helping the environment or offering customised services.

§        Consumers are spending more time at home on activities such as baking and gardening.  Now 1 in 5 consumers grow their own fruit and vegetables.

§        The community is important: consumers are buying locally and supporting green initiatives. There is concern about pesticides and additives in food, and distrust of large corporates.

Tips for marketing:

§        Be clear and transparent in your messages.

§        Avoid hidden costs.

§        Offer free trials, 30 day guarantees and testimonials.

§        Focus on benefits not features.

§        Create new benefits to stand out, e.g. same day delivery.

Key trend 2: Genuine individuals

§        By 2020 there will be more single people than married people in the UK.

§        By 2018, 18% of households will be ‘single person households’.

§        This is affecting buying habits, e.g. people are buying smaller portions of food such as smaller loaves of bread.

§        Living in urban areas and single-person households means that interior design has become more compact.

§        Co-creation has taken off i.e. consumers helping to shape the products they buy, such as the Nike ID trainers.

Key trend 3: Technology

§        The mobile internet is really taking off.

§        Mobile apps are a growth industry which will be worth over 50 billion by 2020.

§        Smart phone owners are buying on average one app per month.

§        Location-based apps are becoming popular such as Foursquare.

§        The ‘perpetual beta’ has become the norm.

§        There is more experimentation e.g. retail trucks and pop-up shops, secret restaurants, etc.

§        Consumers feel like there is too much choice which can be overwhelming.

§        There is a movement of consumers that are ‘unplugging’, which is also called ‘the slow movement’.  For example slow cooking, gardening, home brewing, etc.

§        Some technology solutions have hidden complexity, e.g. the iphone.  It can perform a lot of functions, but is very simple and intuitive to use.

§        QR codes are being used on products for more information, for example, to show the ingredients on McDonald’s products.


My own cooked meal for one from Scratch

5 November 2010

curry-head-onWhilst browsing in  Sourced Market in St Pancras on my way home the other evening, I came across a package promising a meal of Chicken & Chorizo Jamabalaya cooked in one pan… from scratch.

Scratch is the clever name for a new business selling pre-packaged meals with fresh ingredients and instructions to cook a tasty, wholesome meal.

You get a box with all the chopped, washed and weighed ingredients as well as the instructions to cook your meal from scratch.  The meals are for one and cook in around 15 minutes with one or two pans.

As they say, ‘We do the hard bits, you do the fun bits’.

I have to admit I was rather cynical and mainly tried it out in the interests of research, plus I really wanted see what Chicken & Chorizo Jamabalaya tasted like. I have to say that the product definitely lived up to its promise, being incredibly easy and fun to cook, with a tasty meal, and only one pan to wash up at the end – result!

Scratch staffFrom a business opportunity aspect, I find it interesting to see how Scratch are addressing the needs of the growing number of single householders. This is a trend identified in the How to become a cutting-edge retailer workshop I attended recently.

Changing family structure leads to convenience trend
–          more singles than married in the UK by 2020
–          more single person households in the UK – impacts how people shop – from weekly shop to convenience shopping.  Growth from 19bn 2000 to 41bn 2015
–          Asda have bough Netto
–          Easier payment – Visa PayWave system
–          Debenhams – mini-wok is most popular item
–          Dinner for one packages
–          Waitrose – small stores with fresh food, warm bread, deli


Smarta – Five business tips from Paris Hilton

29 October 2010

Five business tips from Paris HiltonSmarta are great at finding engaging ways to talk about entrepreneurship.

This example using Paris Hilton is an excellent case in point.

Go to the Smarta website to see the full story Five business tips from Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton: heiress, celebrity, porn star, entrepreneur and permanent resident of the brat pack. Love her or hate her, Paris Hilton is one of the most successful celebrity brands of the past decade. She may be famous only for being famous, but she has made some canny business decisions to market herself. In February 2007, the Associated Press tried to curb Hilton’s fame by refusing to report her name for a whole week. Needless to say, the experiment failed. Here’s what business owners can learn from Paris Hilton.

Cash in on your connections

All publicity is good publicity

Create lucrative partnerships

Be seen on the scene

Get political


How to become a cutting-edge retailer

14 October 2010

Last week I attending an absolutely fascinating workshop on future trends in retailing.

Cate Trotter the founder and Head of Trends at Insider Trends was the speaker, and had an impressive knowledge of the key issues affecting on-line and off-line retail business.

Here are my notes from the information packed two hour session:

What are the main trends that will affect retailers over next two to five years?

Why?
Trends are like ocean tides an cannot be controlled, but if you recognise them you can ride them to success.

Who?
There is now a more sophisticated and more connected customer base than ever before.

Segmentation for individuals – more tailored products and stores

Examples:
* Alton Towers’ Sleepover Suite (sponsored by Superdrug) for teenage girls
* Blends for Friends – an online tailored tea store – unique flavours and labels
* Elemis Skinlab – technology to assess skin leading to tailored products

Co-creation such as product modification.

Examples:
* Nokia phone covers – an early example
* Nike iD range of shoes (choose from 60 shoes and select design of each element) – not a new service, but sales up 20% in last year
* Zazzle – uploaded designs printed on thousands of different products – recent sales surge
* Chocri.co.uk and Chocomize.com

Concept development and product development

Examples:
* BMW – asking for ideas for new cars with online voting for favourites
* Denham – store designed around what the customer wants

Use SurveyMonkey – to find out what your customers want, or how about a coffee morning discussion. Much more than just a focus group asking for opinions.

Changing family structure leads to convenience trend

–          more singles than married in the UK by 2020
–          more single person households in the UK – impacts how people shop – from weekly shop to convenience shopping.  Growth from 19bn 2000 to 41bn 2015
–          Asda have bough Netto
–          Easier payment – Visa PayWave system
–          Debenhams – mini-wok is most popular item
–          Dinner for one packages
–          Waitrose – small stores with fresh food, warm bread, deli
–          Reprise of the milkman – milkandmore.co.uk – findmeamilkman.net

What?

Two types of retail – Online vs Offline

Online
–          strong advantages
–          price and value
–          convenience – to your door

Offline
–          needs to compete with online success by expanding on…
–          experience
–          relationships

Don’t get caught in the middle – if you are on the high street, don’t try and compete on price or you will fail

Online Retail
–          Moving onto portable devices and digital television
–          Growing at 20% a year – more people online – more confidence shopping online
–          Brand loyalty reducing online – one click away from a competitor + price comparison engines
–          Small business shouldn’t not be drawn into price competition – e.g. with Amazon
–          Make shopping easier for your customers – one click shopping – PayPal – clickandbuy.com and buxter.com (for Facebook shopping).
–          Move to ‘right first time’ e.g. Levis curve fit
–          Problem of home delivery – 10% of deliveries fail first time
–          Example of collectplus.com can deliver to home or to a local store (later hours than local Post Office). Makes returns easy with label and convenience store, with post paid if wanted.

The more unique your business the more loyalty you will get from your customers.

Examples:
–          Trunkclub.com online personal shopper who makes a commission on clothes bought.
–          Plan B Salon – Skype interviewing
–          Tissot.ch/reality – create a paper watch which generates facsimile of their designs.

Tissot.ch/reality

–          Neuvomonde.com – watches on your wrist
–          Supermarketsarah.com – Portobello Road market in her house – a new photo each week. Also collaborates with designers

Growth of mobile retailing
–          Expected to double in next four years, but is still a tiny fraction of sales
–          Will use phones to find out about products so website must include phone capability
–          Phone apps will grow, but might be out of the reach of small business.

Offline Retail

Examples:
–          Abercrombie and Fitch – more of an experience than shopping – all five sense are covered – loud music – A&F scents –
–          The Brand Showroom – e.g. Disney Stores – putting the experience before the product
–          J Crew (share of life retailing) – a range of products for a particular segment of the market / customer
–          Monocle Stores – London, New York, Tokyo, Zurich – sell their magazine plus accessories for readers of the mag
–          Mellow Johnny’s in Texas – bicycles, café and related
–          Lomography Gallery, London – retail and support services

Lomography Gallery London

Competition now comes from other experiences instead of other retailers

e.g. kids, shopping, theme parks

ROBO shopping – Research Offline – Buy Online

Maximise sales by
–          selling closer to the time of need – rollasole.co.uk
–          selling closer to time of consumption
–          exclusives
–          charge for stocking goods – ladenshowroom.co.uk in the East End
–          own label products – e.g. Apple – use stores to promote products – don’t mind if customers buy online
–          Own label – houseoffrasser.co.uk – Dyson have tried a pop-up store

Where?

13% of stores are now empty – lower rate in the South East

Increasing demand for accessible / high street stores

People losing trust in big name brands – moving to local stores and farmer’s markets

Authenticity and localness – you don’t want to be located in a mall

Choose you neighbours carefully – think about pairing up with a like minded business.

Example of A Gold (UK produce) and Verde’s (European produce) in Brushfield street in Spitalfields.

Attention spans on the web are shortening over time.

Store payback time 5-7 years on average

Example wesc.com – using trolleys to keep store fresh

Amorepacific.com use projected displays in store – others use LCD displays

Liberty change signage fonts and colours

Could use posters

Fast moving stock – Zara has 11,000 new products a year

Temporary retail spaces – pop-up-stores – now hitting the mainstream

Toys R Us open up 200 pop-up-stores for seasonal sales

The Secret Restaurant and now The Secret Market (food fair) – marmitelover.blogspot.com

Retail trucks – Adidas pop-up truck – can use Twitter to announce where you are

New mobile app and widget to take credit card payments – squareup.com – 3% charge

How? (including marketing)

Less brand loyalty than in the past

Customers more inclined to listen to each other than conventional advertising

Haulvideos.net – people buy goods and post comments online – leads to discussion

High satisfaction leads to word of mouth and social media

So concentrate on quality delivery rather than low price

Happy customer vs unhappy customer – £600 vs -£400 – Research by a mobile phone company

Nudging customers to promote your products or services

Example:

Shopkick.com - customers get points for registering in store

Foursquare.com  and gowalla.com – social media element
–          Be interesting – sketch.uk.com
–          Tell stories – your customer might want to share – hubbards.co.nz newsletter in every pack
–          Educate customers – Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle – sealed chambers
Apple store free workshops
–          Make business more interactive – made.com – furniture designed by members of the public with votes to decide
–          4food.com in New York, customers design their own burgers online and save recipe, with 25cents for each one sold
–          Swipely.com – records purchases and shares online
–          Uniqlo’s Lucky Line for every 26th customer who joined the line – massive social media coverage

Conclusion

Growth rates predicted for next 18 months

Offline 1% – existing £263bn

Online 39% – existing £11bn

The future is customer centric so think P2P Retail – human interactions

–          Be human!

–          Celebrate your smallness

–          Who is your service going to be tailored to?

–          What do they like?

–          How will you adapt to them?

–          How will they change and how will you move with them.

–          Be authentic – with innovations which will benefit your customers – connect with your local community

–          Be conversational – put the relationship before the sale

–          Finding out  what your customers think and how to trigger them to promote you.

On a personal note I would strongly recommend signing up to the Springwise newsletter and looking at the Trendwatching website.


JOT-it down as another success story for the Business & IP Centre

21 September 2010

It is quite a special feeling when one of our clients from our Business & IP information clinics successfully brings their product or service to market.

In this case, Bob Bhatti had a meeting with my colleague Jeremy O’Hare, way back in November 2008. And he and his business partner Scott Lindsay have pursued their vision since that time, attending a range of our workshops and seminars. They also had an Ask the Expert session with our Inventor in Residence Mark Sheahan. And our commercial Research Service ran patent prior art and trademark searches to help in protecting the intellectual property of the product.

According to the Jot-it Facebook Page, they have just finished exhibiting at the London Gift Fair and are building up a very healthy order book.

Yet again I am amazed that such a simple idea has not been seen before and wish Bob and Scott the best in their exciting business adventure.

What is JOT-it™

JOT-it™ is a handheld product providing maximum writing area on a standard A7 size recycled, pre-printed note pad. It is accompanied with a recycled mini pencil, a pound trolley token to release the shopping trolley from the trolley loan mechanism, has an embedded magnet on the rear for typical fridge attachment and an integrated clip on the rear to clamp the complete device to the shopping trolley handle bar.  This feature also incorporates a high friction rubber pad to provide a robust attachment with minimum effort. All these supplementary items have moulded-in clips on the main body to keep everything organised and together.

With JOT-it™, individuals can generate a shopping list over the course of the week on the notepad using the mini pencil. This notepad is pre-printed with a checklist of the most popular grocery items whilst still leaving a generous amount of space to add additional items. When the user is ready to visit the supermarket, they can take the JOT-it™ along with them.

Once at the supermarket, the user faces another issue of finding a one pound coin to insert into the shopping trolley loan mechanism. The JOT-it™ provides a pound coin widget with a unique thumb grip feature allowing the user to grip the widget securely and remove it successfully each time. It is often found that coins once inserted are not easily retractable due to the minimum grip available.

The JOT-it™ can next be clipped to the shopping trolley handle bar and rotated accordingly to provide a good reading angle. There are no limitations to this adjustment. Again, the mini pencil ( which also has a holder on the front of the unit) can be used to mark off items if the user wishes to and once this shopping trip is complete, the user can dispose of the used leaf and start a new one for the next trip.



Be Your Own Brand

9 August 2010

I’ve just finished watching a short BBC documentary following Richard Reed of Innocent drinks company (On The Road With… – 4. An Entrepreneur). You might recognise him as one of our speakers at our recent The secret ingredient event. And, in fact the documentary ends with some clips of Richard at the evening.

Watching Richard reminded me how many of the most successful entrepreneurs are their own brand. I suppose Richard Branson and Virgin would be the most extreme version of this.

So it is timely that our partner Rasheed Ogunlaru will be running a workshop on this very topic here in September.

Be Your Own Brand: A unique one-day course to take you and your business to the next level.

Are you an entrepreneur, sole trader or small business? Is marketing, promotional and PR support beyond your budget at the moment? If so, then you must become your own brand. Leading life/business coach, PR and media specialist, Rasheed Ogunlaru, shares insights into raising awareness of your business, promoting yourself, broadening your networks and boosting your business – and your success.

He is joined by solicitor-turned-business advisor, Helen Parkins. Helen will show you how to develop powerful partnerships and when you’ll need to introduce the right legal agreements and abide by current rules and regulations to fast-track your success and avoid the pitfalls.

Benefits of attending and areas covered:

  • Develop a powerful sense of your brand and values
  • Communicate your message clearly and effectively
  • Be seen as a specialist in your field
  • Precise marketing: approaching the right customers directly
  • Build your business through contacts, partnership, joint initiatives
  • Identify simple ways of increasing your impact and profitability
  • Promote yourself as an expert in your industry or locality and in the media

Cost: £60  (lunch not included – but available in the library’s cafe/ restaurant)

How to Book:  email rasheed@rasaru.com to book your place. When booking please include:

10.am-4.15pm   Tue 21 Sept

10.am-4.15pm   Thurs 25 Nov