22nd jul, 2011

How do your IP actions reflect on your brand?

Reading the blog post “What has your IP reputation done for you” on Think IP strategy made me think of consequences of your IP decisions in relation to your overall reputation or brand. In the blog post it is outlined how IP reputation can be used in different situations.

The most important point in relation to IP reputation needs to be elaborated a bit more I think. I often see examples of companies or persons owning valuable IP using that IP without considering the branding consequences. Of course your actions will affect the way people look on your business, but in different ways. If your actions are tied to consumers or individual persons the overall branding effect is much bigger than if the actions are tied to an isolated group of specialists. In the graphic below I have illustrated my point.

The point is that the closer your action is tied to the average consumer the greater effect it will have on your overall brand, and the more you should consider your actions.
A few examples may be a good to illustrate my point.
The music business enforcement by lawsuits against single mothers and teenagers is close to the consumers and have resulted in a huge effect on record labels reputation. Likewise Novo Nordisk involvement in the access to AIDS medicines in South Africa had a direct effect on the spotless brand of the company.
The mobile wars currently raging between manufacturers are understandable to most people but only those directly interested in the area reads the articles and even fewer take notice in relation to who is good or bad. IP trolls are another good example. Since they mainly target big companies the public outrage seldom appear.
Open source software or creative commons have a hard time affecting other than specialists since the communication is very hard indeed. Specialists will discuss the IP actions to great extent but the finer details are isolated. Similarly the one click patent case involving Amazon did not harm Amazons overall brand which is stronger than ever. But in the mind of the specialists Amazons reputation suffered.
As a company you should use this distinction to shape and graduate your actions. IP enforcement related to consumers should be measured and careful. In relation to competitors and specialists you can turn on the heat a bit more.
Using this scale when making decisions could spare your brand from getting roughed up by your own IP.

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