Outsourcing of Branding and Marketing

AuthorTerry Heckler
ProfessionHeckler & Associates
C11 09/02/2011 12:57:38 Page 183
Outsourcing of Branding and Marketing
Terry Heckler
Heckler & Associates
Since the mid-1990s we have witnessed a dramatic reduction of outsourcing
branding and marketing based on the onset of desktop publishing and the grow-
ing sophistication and broad access to computer-driven communication design and
marketing tools. Previously, it was larger companies that had internal marketing
groups where outsourcing was reserved for highly specialized talents and top-level
execution of mass communication campa igns. Small and midsized companies usu-
ally relied on outsourcing most of their ongoing marketing and branding assign-
ments until it was realized much of the more routine work could be handled by
employees interested or trained in communication design and armed with their new
computer capabilities. Today, our industry has adjusted to offer more specialized
services, that are much more strategic, creative, and intensive, in order to compli-
ment in-house capabilities even in the smallest companies. No matter what size
company, branding and marketing has been caught up in a changing landscape of
communication media. Broadcasting has to deal with narrowcasting. Cable diced up
the networks, and now the Internet along with growing mobile network access has
provided history, news reporting, advertising, public relations, entertainment, shop-
ping, education, and public opinion instantaneously created and edited to a large
degree by the digital-savvy public. How best to migrate and merge on the media
front has become a major challenge and new area for outsourcing.
Another area of evolving outsourcing requirements has been consumer research.
Never before has there been the speed an d ease of technology to create and mine
data on consumer behavior. Twenty years ago, brand managers relied more on intui-
tion than metrics. I have sensed greater hesitations and a lack of confidence in mar-
keters today when a respectable amount of research hasn’t been executed and
smartly interpreted. There is a marked shift in the marketing mind-set from the right
to left side of the brain.
Technology has also given the information and tools for marketing managers to
become dangerously seduced by the ac tion of the day-to-day tactical ma nagement
C11 09/02/2011 12:57:38 Page 184
compromising valuable strategic attentions. Also, most brand managers we work
with today expect things to happen incredibly faster than just a few years ago.
is a prevailing assumption that everyone is working 24/7. Outsourcing today, more
than ever, requires scheduling expectations to be clear to all parties. As successful
brands expanded globally, diversi fied more, and broadened licensing, b rand over-
sight became more important. Graduating MBAs with brand stewardship and special-
ized brand growth tools started to become more evident. Practitioners from various
areas of business, academics, advertising, ma rket research, and design will present
themselves as ‘‘branding professionals’’ with multidisciplinary capabilities. It’s basic
but more important than ever to have a clear definition of the branding project objec-
tive and deliverables to help ensure the best fit with the essential disciplines.
Brand Naming Project Dynamics
One of the most important, if not the most important, brand-building tools to have is
an effective brand name and it’s wise to outsource expert advice on the subject. Out-
sourcing of brand naming projects in larger companies can originate from many dif-
ferent areas, people, and circumstances. Project dynamics are rarely consistent.
Protocol, procedures, and terminology can vary widely. Consequently, there isn’t
much agreement on the best way to do this.
Legal oversight can occur at different points in the development process some-
times with unpredictable and unintended consequences. Name options presented
early to managers without legal protection can create emotional attachments to alter-
natives that are unprotectable yet can progress into costly final evaluation stages.
Name options closed down too early in the process by overprotective legal scrutiny
can short circuit the creative efforts, limit options, and frustrate the decision process.
Outsourcing branding managers must understand the degree of protection con-
fidence ultimately required in the project and the degree of legal scrutiny applied to
name alternatives at any given point in the naming process. Within our own brand
naming development process, we try our best to present alternatives that have
passed several online searches.
We make it clear within our brand name development process that any of the
alternatives we present have been through nat ional and international online trade-
mark searches. There are several search sites, but we prim arily use USPTO, Dialog
Trademarkscan from Thomson and Thoms on, and RIC International for transla tion
interpretations. During the Dialog
search, we first make s ure that the names do
not exist as an exact trademark in all international class codes. We then narrow the
search to the industry relevant class codes to search spelling variations of the names.
Since the advent of the Internet, we have presented only cleared domain name alter-
natives as well as search engine first-page contexts for names and a review of possi-
ble incumbents from code names in the social media sites. We never have presented
this as a legal search and refer to it as a ‘‘cursory search.’’ We recommend a full legal
search on any of the alternatives, to be managed directly by our client’s attorneys. We
offer referrals when necessary.
It’s refreshing to have learned that good brand marketers, designers, and trade-
mark attorneys all agree that distinctive brand names and distinctive graphic
184 Intellectual Property Operations and Implementation

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