Innovation and enterprise blog

The British Library Business & IP Centre can help you start, run and grow your business

4 posts from September 2013

30 September 2013

The coolest brands

I am easily seduced by big brands and clever marketing. It all began when I got my first pair of Reebok Classics, following many months of begging my dad and complaining of the teasing I was enduring because my existing trainers weren’t cool enough. Admittedly I’ve not been quite so loyal to Reebok Classics in the end but I was an impressionable 11 year old at the time.

The annual CoolBrands survey announced this week placed Apple in the top spot again with a range of luxury brands in the top ten including Rolex, Aston Martin, Virgin Atlantic and Ray-Ban.

Since switching to an Apple iPhone and Mac a few years ago, I think it’s safe to say that I think I’d find it very difficult to ever switch back to anything else. Other smartphones just don’t seem to have the same ‘cool’ factor and I also don’t think that I could live without certain apps, namely Google Maps and the ability to check the weather for my holiday destination on an hourly basis!

The Apple advertisements are some of the boldest adverts around and they have created such a strong brand that although their adverts do not even mention the name ‘Apple,’ everyone knows that is who it’s associated with. The business has got its branding exactly right and is reaping the rewards.

Apple Tube advert

Branding is one of the elements that our Innovating for Growth programme offers and is something that is constantly mentioned as one of the most valuable and immediate things that the businesses take away and put into practice.

For example, one business actually changed the name of his business following a branding one-to-one when he realised that the name only made sense to him and had very little to do with his business.

Getting your brand right can inspire loyalty among your customer base and help to expand it beyond.

Of course, to be a successful brand like Apple, you also need to make sure your brand is protected and that is where intellectual property is vital. Apple often hit the headlines when taking other companies to court for intellectual property infringement and will continue to do so if there’s something that could be harmful to the very strong brand that they have built up.

Our Success Story, Mandy Haberman, has also experienced this with a number of people who have infringed the copyright of her AnywayUp Cup. Fortunately, she had come to the Centre and filed a patent so she has been able to successfully argue her cases and win.

Mandy Haberman
Mandy Haberman with her AnywayUp cup

If you’re not sure how to protect your idea and brand, have a look at the intellectual property information on our website and our workshops.

Chloé Titcomb on behalf of Business & IP Centre

25 September 2013

Fashion has nowhere to go but in circles

‘Fashion has nowhere to go but in circles’ was a statement that my friend’s mother told her and I can see the validity of the statement in many ways since starting at the Business & IP Centre. Fashion is one of the most popular industries among users of our Centre.

In my opinion, there have been some important business changes in the last 10 years of the fashion industry such as commercially viable vintage shops, boutiques, swish parties and other conscious efforts for ethical and sustainable business success without compromising people and the environment.

A couple of years ago, I acquired a heightened state of awareness of sustainability which was brought on by a night of fabulous fashion at an ethical fashion show themed ‘Fashion with a Conscience’ by the Ethical Fashion Forum at the William Morris Gallery in London. 

The London designers on the night created items that were ethically sourced, manufactured and distributed – this was a splendid ticketed fashion event which showcased their designs in the Gallery’s spiral stairwell with various stalls and raffle prizes for goods served over a glass of wine and canapés. It was memorable evening but more than anything – it made me more conscious of ethical fashion in principle.

Roll on one year – whilst being part of the Women’s Network working for the Greater London Authority, we were in the process of organising a number of events for the 100th International Women’s Day and it was my suggestion for us to have an ethical fashion show not only to display some ethical fashions but to bring staff together and celebrate the day with some fun and facts!

 Colin firth and livia
Colin Firth (actor) and his wife Livia Giuggioli (eco-entrepreneur).

Photo Source: Wikimedia


To cut a long story short, I eventually connected with designers Queenie and Ted who were very keen from the onset to take part and thus provided numerous marvellously designed ‘upcycled’ jackets for staff to model.  Coincidently, it was also the week of the Academy Awards Oscar’s in 2011 where Colin Firth’s wife Livia Giuggioli, eco-entrepreneur at Eco-Age, was also doing her bit to champion ethical fashion on the Oscar’s red carpet.  Personally, I thought it all ended being a grand success on a monumental and fun occasion.


Queenie & Ted’s Upcycled Jacket

The event was also a great way to meet with designers and female entrepreneurs Queenie and Ted who started their own company part-time by applying decorative resuscitation techniques to tired garments to create amazing one-off clothes.  Their business has grown since then and they now have a permanent presence and shop on Columbia Road market with even international customers when I visited. 

Back to the present, this brings me back to the saying above ‘Fashion has nowhere to go but in circles’ - this is definitely true in a business and design context such as with upcycling, vintage, ethical global sourcing or sustainable fashion to consumers in the UK. 

There are numerous resources in the library that can help you research sustainable fashion businesses or practices with help from our very popular Fashion Industry Guide and workshops which sometimes focus on fashion. 

For vintage and upcycle fashion design inspiration – download the ‘Guide to Fashion Resources at the British Library’ that we prepared earlier this year.

Seema Rampersad on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

20 September 2013

Top tips from our Marketing Maestros

 Following our fantastic Inspiring Entrepreneurs event in partnership with Barclays on Monday evening, here are some of the top tips from our panel of Marketing Maestros.

Our panel included JoJo Maman Bébé founder, Laura Tenison, King of Shaves founder, Will King and co-founder of Green & Blacks, Jo Fairley who all shared their expert tips and advice on effective marketing for businesses.

 Laura web  Will king web  Jo Fairley web

L- R Laura Tenison, Will King and Jo Fairley

  • Give out freebies to get your brand out there. Jo Fairley was convinced that once people they had tasted their chocolate, they could be converted and considering they are now bigger than Marmite, she wasn’t wrong!
  • Leverage up – find any opportunity you can to get in front of the media. Will King gave a couple of great examples of making the most of the news in a relevant way to get free profile for your business
  • Use ‘word of mouse’ – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all great ways to engage directly with your customers and see what they’re saying about your business
  • Make sure you always put the bad customer reviews as well as the good reviews. More often than not, they will be countered by loyal customers who have had a positive experience
  • Harness the power of word of mouth. Loyal customers will get you other customers by talking about your brand and products in a positive way
  • Don’t just focus on price – as Laura Tenison explained, cash flow is always a problem for startups but if you really believe in your product, customers will also believe and will pay for it
  • Tracking your marketing is vital and is easier now with the web. Working out your return on investment from marketing activity helps make sure that your marketing budget is being spent in the most efficient way
  • One of the best marketing tools is the ability to tell your story. If you are the founder, you have to be the face of your brand and use your personality to sell your product.  

Watch out for the video highlights coming soon!

If you need to get more advice on marketing, come along to Grow’s Online Marketing Masterclass in the Centre. The next one takes place on 17 October.

Chloé Titcomb on behalf of Business & IP Centre


02 September 2013

My favourite brand is complete rubbish

My new favourite trademark was spotted on my way to work today, and is rubbish.

More accurately, it is What a Load of Rubbish! And I was pleased to see they have registered both their logo and text at the UK Intellectual Property Office at UK00002525927.

I love their combination of a cheeky but memorable name, which is reinforced on their website


Their trademark registration page.


The lorry in question.

Neil Infield on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

Neil Infield on behalf of the Business & IP Centre