Brand Growth in the Digital Age
There are many ways for brands to achieve growth in the modern digital age, particularly with the vast opportunities afforded by the internet. In pursuing such growth, it's important to ensure your business has the right IP protection in place.
Different brands have different meanings for all of us but some brands really stand out from the crowd, portraying a very clear picture to their audience. They work hard to achieve a set image that resonates with their target audiences. Much of this is achieved through engagement and investment in market-leading concepts and campaigns.
For example, Nike is now synonymous with great athletic performance or if somebody hears about Cottonelle, then they would only think about their soft products.
How do audiences associate such brands with certain concepts within a split second? The answer lies in the idea of 'brand association'. It refers to the psychological connection which revolves around a concept and a brand. Brand associations are essentially how people associate a brand with a pre-conceived notion or thought.
Today, most people follow and are influenced by celebrities and celebrities, in turn, associate with brands that resonate with their personality. Brands often choose celebrity endorsements to boost their idea of brand association. Beauty product brands, for instance, will invest in an association with people who can amplify their beauty products in the best possible light and to help them increase their market share.
The Role of IP in Brand Protection
The role of IP in helping consumers remember the brand cannot be understated. When consumers buy a product or use a service, they are likely to think of the logo, brand colours or trading name in addition to the celebrities are who are associated with the brand. Such aspects are protected under Trademark law. Section 2(m) of the Indian Trade Marks Act, 1999 defines a 'trademark' as a word, name, or sign that differentiates goods/services from that of other businesses. Recognition becomes much easier with the existence of a trademark. And protection may be granted to a trademark through continuous usage or by registration under the Trade Marks Act, 1999.
In respect of brand associations, it's important, too, to note that celebrities also have their own brands with their own attributes and traits. And if a business brand's ethics, standards and messaging matches a celebrity's brand, it can make a lasting impact on a consumer's mind.
Sachin Tendulkar and MRF
Sachin Tendulkar and MRF made rounds of headlines when the high-profile cricketer was associated with the brand. In his sports career, Sachin Tendulkar has been associated with a plethora of brands but one brand stands out amongst the rest - MRF Tyres, which also goes by the name of Madras Rubber Factory. Tendulkar has frequently used the MRF logo on his bats. The reach and heights of the brand had become so paramount that people started automatically recognising and associating MRF with cricket bats. However, it has no history of manufacturing cricket equipment or similar products. After Tendulkar entered the picture, MRF became a household name across India, showing the power of brand endorsement by a national sporting celebrity.
MV Agusta and Giacomo Agostini
Another example is the connection between MV Agusta and Giacomo Agostini, one of the pioneers of motorcycling. The association between the two rose when Agostini's solo performance in the 500-class hit home in the year 1965. He won over his champion team-mate at the Grand Prix of Germany and this win was considered the most difficult triumph of the time. AGV derived a number of advantages and fame from Rossi’s charisma, style, and speed as well as through his explicit wins over time - basically, the plethora of values and traits they wished to depict in their products.
Valentino Rossi and AGV Dainese
There is another bright example for all those moto enthusiasts. No motor vehicle expert is complete without the obsession with Valentino Rossi and his association with AGV Dainese. He goes by the name of the doctor who never took the Hippocratic oath but tends to swear by the logo with the devil’s head. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Rossi collects world championship titles like no other and it is always a treat to watch. It is seen time and again that not every racer has that much career longevity that he has had and for the entire duration of his career, AGV has exclusively benefitted from the helmet he has showcased of the brand.
When Brands Don't Benefit from Celebrity Endorsements
But not all brands will benefit from each celebrity endorsement they acquire. This can be seen in a recent incident where a well-known educational technology company called BYJUs had to cancel its advertisements featuring its brand ambassador, Shah Rukh Khan, following an ongoing investigation against his son in a drugs case. BYJUs, as a brand, took a major hit because the celebrity associated with the brand was portrayed in a bad light.
The Importance of Express Agreement
It's important and, to some extent, obvious to note that prior permissions and express agreements are necessary when involving a celebrity with your brand, ideally with the assistance of an experienced intellectual property lawyer. There is a risk if proper legal advice isn't taken and if the proper agreements aren't in place that there is IP infringement.
IP Protection and Brand Association
What can we learn from this? For most businesses, it pays to think about intellectual property FIRST. Build your IP strategy into your brand from the start and ensure your key intangible assets are protected. From here, you can develop your market positioning and identify your target customer. After that, you can begin to work on your brand name and identity. These are the areas most affected by Trademark law. Finally, you can establish a strategy for the brand and drive the business forward.
Contact our Expert IP Lawyers in India
If you'd like to speak to our leading intellectual property lawyers in India to help create and protect your business' invaluable assets, please contact us through our online contact form here or contact one of our offices directly.
- Einfolge Technologies Pvt Ltd. (2018) Personality rights protection and Celebrity rights under IPR. https://www.einfolge.com/blog/personality-rights-can-be-covered-under-intellectual-property/#about
- Khurana and Khurana. (2021) Celebrity Rights: Safeguarding Through IPR: Mondaq https://www.mondaq.com/india/trademark/1022490/celebrity-rights-safeguarding-through-ipr
- Ankit Verma (2020) Sachin Tendulkar and MRF Bat History Creators: Tyremarket https://www.tyremarket.com/tyremantra/sachin-tendulkar-and-mrf-bat-history-creators-mrf-tyres/
- Giacomo Agostini. Drivers: Motorcycle Art https://www.mvagusta.ro/en/racing-department/drivers/giacomo-agostini/#:~:text=Drivers,support%20the%20unforgettable%20Mike%20Hailwood
- Valentino Rossi: Dainese https://www.dainese.com/se/en/dainese/athletes/valentino-rossi.html
- Admin, Valentino Rossi motorcycle helmets (2021): misfitmademotorcycles