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Archive for March, 2008

?Branding Bag? Branding & Leadership

Saving the CMO


Chief Marketing Officers have a shorter tenure than NFL Coaches. In fact, as you can see by the chart, they barely get beyond two years before they are gone.

Average number of months at a position.


As Business Week commented in a recent article on the subject, “The job is radioactive.” The problem as layed out in the article quoted a well known search company as stating that 70% of the companies don’t know what they’re looking for when they recruit a CMO.

Jeff Jones, who was the chief marketer at Gap for two years reported that he discussed 22 CMO positions over a five month period. Not one, he says, spelled out coherently for what he could be accountable for.

It’s gotten so bad that Advertising Age editorialized “Perhaps we should just call for the end of the CMO position”. They went on, “Put the job out of its misery. It isn’t really working anyway, is it?”

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Brad VanAuken Brand Protection

Protecting Your Brand: Trade Dress


Trade dress is a second form of legal protection for a brand – Trademarks being the first.  Trade dress is a brand’s distinctive aesthetic design features (package or product design).  To be protectable, trade dress must be non-functional and distinctive (or, have acquired a “secondary meaning,” that is, source identifying characteristics).  The more non-functional differentiating features one can build into a product and its packaging, the more likely it will be that infringement can be proved.

It is easy for a competitor to say, “I developed this very similar product independently” when it is fairly generic (such as a birthday card with a floral design the says simply “happy birthday”).  It is more difficult to convince a courtroom of that when your product has many of the same random non-functional elements as a competitor’s products (a line of cards of an unusual size that open from the top with rounded edges printed on green tinted recycled paper, all at 99 cents and all addressing the theme of friendship).  For a competitor to develop a similar line of cards with similar features independently is highly unlikely. It points to copying.

To protect its trademarks and trade dress, a company must constantly be watchful for and strenuously defend against infringement.  For instance, Apple has filed several lawsuits to defend its iMac against knock-offs. Trademark rights can be enforced through lawsuits at a state or federal level. Proving infringement requires proof that the infringer had second use of the mark and that the second user’s mark is confusingly similar to the senior party’s mark.

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David Ogilvy Campaign Commandments


David Ogilvy Branding Strategy Insider

Legendary ad man David Ogilvy left marketers with these eleven timeless campaign commandments:

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Brad VanAuken Brand Protection

Branding and Trademark Law


While the best defense against copycat competitors is to stay ahead of them with a continuous stream of innovative, highly differentiated, and superior products and services, it is equally important to seek as much legal protection as possible for your brand.

Trademark Law
As a brand steward, you must be aware of the laws under which legal protection is available.  First, trademark law protects a brand’s identity.  That is, it protects names, titles, taglines, slogans, logos, other designs, product shapes, sounds, smells, colors or any other features that distinguish one source of products or services from another. Trademarks that protect services are often called service marks (“SM”).  There are also “collective membership marks” (Boy Scouts of America) and “certification marks” (UL approved).

Trademarks, like brands, build in strength over time.  The test for trademark infringement is “confusing similarity.”  Put another way, if the average consumer believes both products to have come from the same source, there is infringement. Obviously, the more a consumer is familiar with a particular brand, the more defendable its mark.  That’s why it behooves a company to do the following:

•choose a distinctive mark, including a “coined” name. (brand names range from generic and descriptive to suggestive and arbitrary or fanciful (“coined”).  Obviously it takes longer to build meaning for “coined” names, but they are also more distinctive and easiest to protect legally.  Kodak, Xerox, and Exxon fall in that category.  Suggestive marks are the next most protectable.  Examples include Coppertone, Duracell, and Lestoil.  Even common words can be used as trademarks as long as they are not used descriptively.  These common words/phrases are also suggestive marks: Amazon (big), Road Runner (fast) and Apple (different, offbeat).  Descriptive marks are not protectable unless the brand creates a secondary meaning for the word.  Examples include Weight Watchers, Rollerblade, and Wite-out.  Generic marks, such as Shredded Wheat and Super Glue, are not protectable at all.)

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?Branding Bag? Marketers For Charity

Product Creation: Sacrifice To Win


For many years, I’ve been writing about sacrifice. In other words, to get something, you have to give something up. Trying to be everything for everybody undermines a clear perception of what makes you special or different. If Volvo is to preempt "safety," they can’t be a convertible or a fancy-looking car that tries to compete with BMW and Mercedes. And they have to innovate new safety ideas.

Convergence is the opposite of sacrifice, as it is all about products that do more. And it’s hard to avoid predictions about converging products in the worlds of computing, communications, consumer electronics, entertainment and publishing.

These predictions go way back. A July 18, 1993, front-page story in Newsday predicted that convergence will cause the eventual demise of videotapes, video stores, newspapers, TV channels, telephone operators, the Yellow Pages, mail-order catalogs, college textbooks, library card catalogs, beepers, VCRs, checkbooks and cassette players.

(We suspect you’ve noticed that many things expected to go away are still alive and well. So much for that prediction.)

More recent predictions have telephones, video, and the Internet all converging at our television sets. Even the cartoonists are getting into the act. Our favorite has a gentleman with his large-screen Sony on his shoulder saying hello into it.

If you study history, convergence rarely happens. Products that do more than they should are quick to die.

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