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    Creative IP: a brand’s most valuable asset

    trademark and registered design and copyright law

    Richard Sunderland, September 29, 2022.

    At Heavenly, we’ve been in the ideas game for a while. In fact, it’s almost twenty years since we first set up shop. And, in that time, we’ve worked across an extraordinary number of different countries, sectors, clients and projects. 

    What’s common to everything we do is ideas. Packaging-up a proposition in an imagination-capturing way. Such that it drives cultural relevance and commercial impact.

    We’ve been in business for almost one thousand weeks. By our estimates, at a conservative average of ten ideas a week, that’s ten thousand ideas.

    Some have been big, such as persuading Selfridges to sell beachfront real estate in their flagship store on Oxford Street. And some smaller, like a new tagline or a message.

    “Two decades ago, only 7% of the world was online. Now it’s 63%.”

    It’s both a blessing and a curse that our clients are involved in some of the most innovative and topical initiatives, from climate, renewables and the circular economy to AI, data security and mobility. There’s scarcely a newsletter, magazine or media channel that doesn’t carry a story that prompts a thought, or chimes with something we’re working on.

    Proactivity propels us forward. Building on something we’ve seen that might inspire a change of course for one of our clients, a clever partnership, a new product or campaign. It’s second nature to us.

    In hindsight, it used to be easier to have ideas. Perhaps because twenty years ago, fewer people were launching new things. Technology has changed everything.

    Two decades ago, only 7% of the world was online. Now it’s 63%. Clunky download speeds have been replaced by superfast broadband. An ecosystem of venture capital has matured around entrepreneurship. Gen Zs and millennials are challenging the conventions of careers, breaking free to turn their side-hustle into the day job. Speculators are drawn to a metaversal gold rush. Or minting freshly-branded ideas as NFTs.

    It’s just got easier to launch new things. So, the competition for ideas has intensified. 

    The world is experiencing an explosion of choice. In the last decade, we’ve gone from 200m websites to 2bn. From 125m companies to 200m+. And a mainstream brand-count today of 500,000+.

    All these things need to be called something. And make marketing claims to support their growth. There’s no better indicator of this than the world of trademarks. The voice of reason in the often-ethereal world of marketing. In 2011, there were 4m trademark applications globally. In 2021, this had risen to 14m. And, in that decade, that was a net total of 90m new trademarks registered.

    “While there’s Creative IP to be had, rest assured, like trusty truffle-pigs, we’ll unearth it.”

    In 2021 alone, Amazon, one of the world’s most innovative and impactful companies, filed 3,500 applications. Which seems insignificant compared to the almost 10m applications originating in Mainland China. That’s a lot of ideas, by anyone’s calculations.

    It’s a little too early to say that the world is running out of IP, but it must be imminent. The relentless competition for differentiation is driving the world of ideas and innovation; and, in turn, putting increasing demands on Intellectual Property.

    We talk to our clients about the value of Creative IP. And how finite it is as an asset. We encourage them to lock it down, to defend as well as to differentiate. To use it to own a sliver of headspace in the marketing maelstrom. 

    Our Seven-Second Sell framework is a great place to start. Filtering the expression of an idea through our LOAFS methodology to determine if the idea is Likeable, Ownable, Applicable, Farmable and Sharable. Often, we’ll stall at ‘ownable’, simply because someone else has beaten us to it by securing the global rights to the idea we like, even if their immediate sphere of operation is hyper-local. Actual geography doesn’t matter. Tech has enabled every business to think global.

    One of the ways we’ve been navigating our frustrations about the diminishing availability of great Creative IP is to start building our own portfolio of shrink-wrapped brand names. Brands for businesses that don’t exist yet. Our so-called “IP Shop” is currently more a boutique than a warehouse, but it does solve a problem for the innovator in a hurry: turnkey brand names, pre-trademarked, ready-to-launch. Hopefully we luck out and meet a potential licensee.

    In the meantime, our business-as-usual service, working with clients to brand their brilliant ideas with increasingly-hard-to-find Creative IP, is at your service. While there’s Creative IP to be had, rest assured, like trusty truffle-pigs, we’ll unearth it.