Tag Archives: branding

Branding stories; WIPO new online brand-search tool and Coca Cola

WIPO have launched another new tool this month.  See “WIPO Launches New On-Line Tool to Facilitate Brand Searches“. From their press release:

“A new on-line tool launched by WIPO … will make it easier to search over 640,000 records relating to internationally protected trademarks, appellations of origin and armorial bearings, flags and other state emblems as well as the names, abbreviations and emblems of intergovernmental organizations. The Global Brand Database allows free of charge, simultaneous brand-related searches across multiple collections.”

Thanks to WIPO for another free resource.  It is part of WIPO Gold, a “free public resource which provides a one-stop gateway to WIPO’s global collections of searchable IP data”

And the Coca Cola reference?  Well, whilst on the subject of brands, I was reading the Intellectual Asset Management blog.  They posted an item: “The Coca-Cola brand suffers a sharp fall in value as Google hits number one

Love it or loathe it, no matter where in the world you are, the chances of finding Coca Cola are pretty high.  It was interesting to read therefore that

“for the first time [Coca Cola] finds itself outside the list of the world’s top 10 most valuable brands, according to the annual Brand Finance 500 study”

The article concludes:

“…although there is a lot more to brands than trademarks, it does means that if you are working in-house as a trademark operator, the job that you are doing is absolutely vital to the maintenance (as well as the creation, of course) of profoundly important assets. I am sure that this is not huge news to the trademark practitioners reading this blog, but I wonder how many other people appreciate it. My suspicion is that it is not as many as should be the case.”

New global Eco Brand launched at World Economic Forum

Most US consumers recognize the Energy Star name and logo – it’s a seal of approval issued by the US government that is used to identify electrical efficiency in appliances ranging from computers and TVs to refrigerators and stoves.

NPR said:

The new WindMade eco-label, unveiled by business leaders at the Davos World Economic Forum, introduces a new standard for renewable products.  Manufacturers can label their products with information on the percentage of energy used to create the product that is derived from wind power.  This will enable energy conscious consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.

Read (or listen to) NPR’s coverage at:


And you can visit the WindMade web site at:

http://www.windmade.org/ which informs us that:

The WindMade™ label will provide qualifying companies the ability to effectively communicate to consumers a commitment to wind energy that differentiates their brand, and signals a strong commitment to renewable energy.

Good idea?  Yes.  But are we going to see a spate of brands indicating “commitment to”  other renewable energy sources (e.g., SolarMade, WaveMade)?  Needless to say, the list of “partners” launching the WindMade brand includes several wind turbine manufacturers such as Vestas Wind Systems.  Lining up 1,000 manufacturers to buy into a new brand is no small task, but from the point of view of the consumer it would make far more sense to launch a generic brand to identify commitment to any renewable energy source.  Products qualifying to use this brand would indicate that a certain percentage of energy used to manufacture the product was derived from wind, solar, wave, geothermal, etc., or even some combination of these.

The WindMade PR is confusing:  note how “renewable” is interchangeable with “wind power”.  I suspect that we will witness changes in this strategy over time; perhaps WindMade will be integrated into an über-brand that will meet consumer need to support companies that are committed to using any source of green energy.  In the meantime, Vestas should be lauded for its marketing savvy.

Post written by Peter Bloch 

Update on WIPO/WIPD; still causing confusion?

Remember the confusing “look & feel” of the WIPD (World Intellectual Property Database) site and the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation)?  See our post “WIPD hopes to be confused with WIPO; spot the difference!”  Well, we can now take a small breath of relief.  The WIPD logo has been amended, diminishing the likelihood of confusion. WIPO’s actions must have had some effect!

You can check it for yourself and see whether it is still a cause for concern. See the screen shots below of WIPO and then WIPD’s home pages.

(thanks to Francesca Re Manning)

WIPD hopes to be confused with WIPO; spot the difference!

I read with alarm the IPKat post last week regarding the WIPD site.
Friday fantasies“.  Thanks for bringing this to everyone’s attention IPKat.

The post concerns a website calling itself WIPD, which mimics the branding of WIPO and requests fees for dubious and badly defined services.  Even the strapline is similar; WIPO = “Encouraging Creativity and Innovation” and WIPD = “Imagine Creativity and Innovation.”  Whilst I easily found their list of fees, I couldn’t find the mechanism for processing them. Nonetheless the site is confusing in its content and closely follows the “look and feel” of the WIPO site, so at the very least it is compromising the integrity of the WIPO brand.  See for yourself!

the official WIPO logo (legitimate)

the official WIPO logo (legitimate)

WIPD logo (dubious)

WIPD logo (dubious)

The IPKat entry on Friday was an update from last week’s post in which they said:

“The IPKat is horrified that scam-merchants such as WIPD should be enabled to masquerade as a United Nations Agency in order to deceive and rip off gullible patent applicants, from whom it seeks substantial funds for its worthless services…”

The IPKat called on “WIPO to do something about it“.. and that “all patent practitioners to be aware of this rogue enterprise.”  I share IPKats disbelief that this is continuing.  It is nothing if not ironic…

What’s in a name? Know the value of your IP

On December 8th, an auction of inactive trade marks took place in New York.  According to NPR’s Marketplace:

Michael Reich owns Brands USA Holdings, the company selling the trademarks. He says old brand names can be used to sell new products, anchor a website or tap into the growing market for kitsch, you know, T-shirts and tchotchkes with vintage logos.

You can read or listen to the story at:


These marks are often referred to as “zombie brands”.  They are inactive – think Circuit City, Sharper Image and Brim (as in “Fill it to the rim – with Brim”). Marketers who recognize the inherent value are breathing new life into these, and other storied brand names.

You can read more on Businessweek.com “Imation Brings Dead Brands Back to Life

What is remarkable is that:

Memorex dropped its signature TV ads, with their “Is it live or is it Memorex?” tagline, more than 30 years ago. And yet…research surveys showed that 95% of U.S. consumers knew the name, even among people in their 30s.

The message is simple:  know the value of your IP, whether it be patents, trade marks – or brand names.

Post written by Peter Bloch

Rebranding Xerox

Xerox has become a victim of its own success.  The word has become a verb in common global usage, and the company has moved way beyond copying.  So what was an asset is now at risk of becoming a liability.

You can read and/or listen to the story at: http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2010/09/06/pm-a-xerox-beyond-copy-machines/ 

The bottom line is that Xerox plans a makeover driven by a big advertising and marketing campaign.  Branding consultant Rob Frankel observes that Xerox’s past attempts at transformation haven’t worked all that well and that:

Advertising will raise brand awareness, but if people don’t understand why they should care about the brand, then it’s going to fail.


He thinks there are a couple of hurdles for Xerox: It’s got to convince people it does more than make copiers. It also has to explain its new services and convince potential clients that it does them best. That’s a tall order for any marketing campaign.

 Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

MASA Brand Launch

On Thursday last week ICRISAT and its partners launched MASA, the Malawi Seed Alliance.  For the last year I have been representing CAS in developing the alliance and the brand for ICRISAT. For background on this initiative see https://casipblog.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/ip-issues-in-the-launch-of-masa-–-the-malawi-seed-alliance/   

Six months ago, we left ICRISAT and its partners with an alliance, a brand, a logo and a general plan.  Since then, the partners have – as we had hoped they would – taken ownership of the project, and have determined that the brand and associated trade mark should be held in trust for the benefit of the Malawian agricultural sector and, more specifically, small holder farmers and seedcos. The umbrella brand will be available to any seed company that meets ethical guidelines and is distributing certified seed. This is an exciting evolution, and may well be a “first”.   

Agro dealers and seed companies have been consulted as the project gained momentum, and the launch was focused on small holder farmers who will benefit from the increased availability of high quality, certified legume seed.  Benefits include raising nutritional standards within Malawi (the basic diet of maize has led to high rates of malnutrition) and a ground nut crop that NASFAM is selling to European buyers as Fair Trade products at $1,100/ton.   

The membership has expanded, and now includes:   

  • National Smallholder farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM)
  • Association of Seed Multiplication Action Group (ASSMAG)
  • Agri-Inputs Suppliers Association of Malawi (AISAM)
  • Rural Market (RUMARK) Agro-dealers
  • Key entrepreneurs (provides seed marketing links to retail multiples, e.g. Peacock)
  • Seed Trade Association of Malawi (STAM)
  • Seed Services Unit (Government Seed Quality Regulatory body)

These bags show the MASA logo (top), the ICRISAT logo (bottom right) and the logo of the seed company that is distributing the seed (in this case, Peacock). Planting instructions are provided on the back of the bag, and participating dealers have received training so that they can help farmers get the most out of the seeds.

 Agro dealers who have participated in one of the sub-projects[1] (small-scale, localized seed multiplication) are about to harvest their first crop of certified ground nut seed and are excited about the MASA seed bags that have been distributed.   

 The launch event was well attended;  in addition to many of the partners (see photo below) we had an audience consisting of the press (newspapers and TV) and about 75 farmers and agro dealers from the Mchingi district.  The Irish Ambassador was extremely supportive of the project; he observed that there was little point in funding research without a market outreach component to ensure that innovations reach those who need them.   

MASA launch event. From left to right: Moses Siambi (ICRISAT Country Director), Blessings Botha (Agricultural Advisor, Irish Aid), Liam MacGabhann (Irish Ambassador), Felix Sichali (ICRISAT Project Manager), Fred Kwawalewale (Executive Director, AISAM), Felix Jumbe (Secretary-General, STAM)


The Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Andrew Daudi, addressed the gathering and a spirited dialog ensued in which many of the farmers aired their grievances.  But two comedians, Chindime and Samalani, acted out a satiric skit involving farmers, agriculture and MASA which was highly entertaining, and the event wound up on a high note.   

 Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP   

[1] For other spinoff projects, see: https://casipblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/seed-infotech-critical-data-on-seed-soon-to-be-available-in-malawi/ and https://casipblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/genetic-markers-for-seed-purity/

Branding Kenya

Following up on our recent post, Rebranding Africa, I was most interested to read about a new government initiative, the Brand Kenya Board:

“Brand Kenya Board is tasked with the responsibility of identifying and refining the key attributes about Kenya, that contribute positively to the image and reputation of the Nation. A strong, believable and easily recognizable brand is all the difference between attracting positive attention or none at all. The board would like Kenya to be internationally recognized for its people, its natural resources and its position as a key player in the East African region’s socio-economic development. Athletics, culture, tourism, horticulture, development in ICT, telecommunication, education and our heritage can contribute generously towards improving the country’s attractiveness to holiday makers, nature conservationists, artists, investors and other nationals who would like to make Kenya their home.”

The Board’s mandate is “to ensure that an integrated national brand is created, harnessed and sustained in the long term”.   A large number of state institutions – from the Airports Authority to the Tea Board – are participating, and Kenya’s foreign missions (mostly embassies and consulates) have been tasked to collaborate. Kenya has a solid base (exports, tourism and Out of Africa!) on which to build, and the initiative seems like a strong move in the right direction. If countries with the potential (“assets”) and the capacity to engage in brand-building do so, there is hope that the negative stereotypes about “Africa” can be reversed, even if only on a regional basis.

Post written by Peter Bloch    , consultant to CAS-IP

“Rebranding Africa”

Ever since reading this African Business November 2009 cover story, its been on my mind.  Editor Anver Versi wrote:

Africa is still seen as a charity case waiting for salvation from outside the continent. This negative view persists despite the enormous progress the continent has made over the past decade both economically and in the political sphere. Why is this so? What can be done to change this perception to one closer to the reality of our continent?

The article addressed a range of issues; top of the list, perhaps, is how:

Africa’s dominant image has been created by the charity brands and the tendency of the foreign press to label the entire continent as warlike and corrupt.

Why “rebrand Africa”?  The most obvious answer it to encourage foreign direct investment (FDI) rather than aid.  While it is true that investors perceive parts of Africa as being too risky and lacking adequate governance, investors are flocking to Nigeria (which now has the 2nd largest film industry in the world) and to parts of East and Southern Africa.  And, of course, to Ethiopia and Sudan where Saudi Arabian, Indian and South Korean investors have purchased large tracts of farmland to grow food for export to their respective countries.

Africa consists of 53 countries; there is an immense variation in climate, culture, economy and governance.  To talk about “Africa” is misleading and results in generalizations which often entirely miss measurable progress in many countries and regions.

In the cover story of the June 2010 issue Versi harks back to his November call for the development of positive images to support the continent’s progress.  The focus of this report is on the long-awaited Africa Progress Report, led by Kofi Annan and launched in Johannesburg on May 25th.  Versi observes that what distinguishes this report from the many others is its clarity and its call for action in both leadership and the development of environments which are more business friendly.

The June issue talks about a number of success stories, including the “new” Lagos, Angola’s rise as an investment magnet and advanced high-speed rail in South Africa.  It also attacks a recent BBC documentary, Welcome to Lagos, for focusing almost exclusively on the slums.  Versi: 

“….(western media)…stick to a long-outdated template of Africa as a ‘dark continent’ full of misery, backwardness, hunger and despair.” 

It is as if a BBC documentary on Los Angeles focused on skid row and the new tent cities without revealing the vibrant beach and downtown business clusters or the mansions of Beverly Hills.

It would seem, then, that the first critical step in rebranding Africa is to ensure that western media tell things like they are and report on progress – which is substantial – rather than focusing on the tired negative stereotypes.  The success of any branding exercise, a critical IP tool in the market development toolbox, is often highly dependent on communications and how the product or service is portrayed in films, on TV and in the press. 

Individual countries, regions and the entire continent needs branded content and PR to build more positive images and start to counter the old stories.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP

IP issues in the launch of MASA – The Malawi Seed Alliance

Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP, is on the road in Africa working on several ICRISAT projects.  He sent the following update:

On behalf of CAS I’ve been working with ICRISAT over the last year on the Irish Aid funded Malawi Seed Industry Development project, and we decided to launch a stakeholder alliance to support the work – making certified legume seed more widely available.

While small holder farmers in Malawi now purchase maize seed every year, most legumes are still grown from farm-saved seed (grain).  Experience suggests that trust in the source is a major factor in the adoption of new varieties and new crops.  In order to support small new seed companies and new seed retailers (mostly agrodealers), we proposed the development of an umbrella brand which could be used by all stakeholders in the supply and distribution chains.  ICRISAT agreed, and this plan will be supported by a marketing campaign to let farmers know about the benefit of buying certified seed and where they can buy it.

The issue I am very focused on right now is a practical application of my response to Ethiopia’s G.I. legislation (https://casipblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/ethiopia’s-gi-bill/) as follows:

It would be highly desirable to allow agrodealers who have passed through one of ICRISAT’s Seed Production and Marketing programs to display the MASA logo with a caption such as “MASA certified seed dealer”.  But as this branding exercise is all about trust and reliability, how can we ensure that a dealer does not pass grain off as certified seed by using one of the MASA branded seed bags we plan to distribute?  A few days ago I went out to Kasungu and discussed this with a group of five agrodealers who had participated in the first training.

Agrodealers in Malawi

Standing, from left : Elias Mpumila, Noel J. Sambo, Mathews Malata. Seated, from left : Mary Kazombo, Goodwin Kasale.

When I asked them about the “trust” issue, they made these observations:

  • the success of our businesses depends on our relationships with the farming community;
  • if we sell our customers a product which does not perform we risk losing business;
  • it is very much in our interests to make sure customers are satisfied with the products and services they buy from us.

This makes a lot of sense but does not rule out the odd scofflaw who decides to profit by selling grain in a seed bag marked with the MASA logo as certified seed.  One of the Alliance partners – NASFAM – proposed that we trade mark the MASA logo and name;  we had planned to do this, but – as in the case of Ethiopia – we will not have any enforcement mechanisms, so the risk factor needs further consideration.

Several days after writing the above, I met with another group in Dwangwa who had formed an agrodealer association.  They had invited two tribal chiefs to join the discussion and it soon became evident that the association viewed entry into the seed market as a significant development for the local economy.  When I raised our concern about possible misuse of the MASA branded seed bags, the two chiefs responded by telling me that this would not happen – they would raise the issue at community meetings.  After further discussion it became evident that informal “self-policing” would take place in this area and that we could encourage similar activity in other regional markets.

As the benefits so far outweigh the risks, we are moving ahead to trade mark the MASA brand, develop a license agreement and signage for the agrodealers, and ensure that appropriate MASA-branded seed bags are ordered prior to the harvest.

Post written by Peter Bloch, consultant to CAS-IP