Avoiding a battle of the brands

published on May 15 2019
by establishing a DNA and communicating this in a way that resonated with the local community, Caroline Chisholm Catholic College saw an increase in applications from students, parents and staff. A remarkable transformation from concerns about dwindling enrollments and a lack of interest from talented teachers, to securing a waiting list and receiving a flood of teachers’ applications. Communication foundations are essential, they require investment on all fronts, but the rewards can be profound and long-lasting.


This article first appeared in Pesel & Carr’s 47 newsletter.

For a business to function successfully, there are certain elements such as a registered company name, logo, website and IP address, that are absolutely essential. These may seem like the simple or fun things to decide about a brand, but how do you go about making sure they are legally robust?

A recent presentation by Pesel & Carr and Gadens law firm, “Building and Bolstering your Brand”, explored how to successfully build a brand both creatively and legally. The event provided a rare opportunity for audience members to gain insight from a top copyright lawyer and the managing director of a creative communications agency.

While these departments might appear to be set on a collision course, Gadens and Pesel & Carr proved the importance of collaboration between legal and creative. If you want to build a quality brand, it’s essential to protect it from the outset. Most businesses will come up against legal issues in due course, but with a meticulous approach, trademark infringements can be avoided.

Alana Long is a member of the Intellectual Property and Technology team at Gadens. She works with clients to protect, commercialise and enforce their technology and intellectual property rights. Alana spoke about the importance of legally registering your company’s details, telling attendees: “A brand is one of the most valuable assets to a company.”

Barbara Pesel, Managing Director of Pesel & Carr has been helping businesses create brands and successfully communicate for over 20 years. For her, a brand is defined by a person’s perception of a product, service, experience, or organisation – it is a company’s identity.

“It’s important to be distinguishable from your competitors, It’s also important to articulate and communicate the essence of an organisation,” she said.

The look and feel of your brand provides your audience with a perception, so what is it you are trying to say? A brand can also be defined as the company’s reason for being. Barbara refers to this as your “DNA” – a foundation for consistent, effective external and internal communication. The DNA is a summary of why the business exists — its mission, its vision and its values.

With the DNA clearly articulated you can then begin to formulate and align key messages to target audiences – what you want them to remember about you.

The work Pesel & Carr did with Caroline Chisholm Catholic College is a perfect example of why establishing a DNA is essential to successfully enhancing or altering perceptions.
When Pesel & Carr began working with Caroline Chisholm Catholic College, at best it lacked visibility in the community, at worst it had a poor reputation among stakeholders. This was due to the absence of a clearly-defined identity.

Pesel & Carr was brought on board to create one organisational voice and build a positive brand that aligned with Caroline Chisholm Catholic College’s business goals.

A communication framework and a marketing plan was developed, educating the school community on the new DNA by addressing and presenting a breakdown for all staff and students. A DNA ambassador group was created bringing together teachers, administration staff and students across all year groups. An infographic was produced to capture the brand essence and distributed as a tool with several visual touch points for stakeholders to reference.

In order to protect your brand, it’s important to know your company’s differentiator, it’s brandmark. Take French designer, Christian Louboutin, who created a brandmark that is recognised on a global scale – the red-lacquered soles.

“Red bottoms” sit around the $800 mark and the brand is a symbol of luxury and class in women’s high-end fashion. In recent years the market has become littered with cheap knockoff red bottoms that haven’t been made by and with the same quality as Louboutin’s, in turn diluting the prestige of the brand.

In 2017 Louboutin decided to trademark the famous red soles, only to discover this wasn’t possible globally. The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland turned down Louboutin’s request to trademark the red sole, denying the appeal because the court ruled ‘an aesthetic element’ unworthy of a trademark.

It was important for Louboutin to frame his trade mark application carefully, to avoid colour being seen as simply aesthetic. Louboutin continues his crusade across the world, attempting to adhere to trademark laws of multiple countries in order to protect his brand.

The Gadens and Pesel & Carr presentation bridged a significant gap between creative agencies and lawyers. It’s imperative that entrepreneurs and company owners adopt this new way of thinking. Just as marketers work creatively and collaboratively to share their message, a legal team brings the same collective spirit to drawing up contracts and negotiating deals.

This creative energy not only runs through teams, it can also exist between them. With a little preparation beforehand, you’re already halfway to a solution.