As the summer ends, lots of new product/service promotions from brands fly into my inbox. Most get deleted, but some whet my professional interest. Last week's 'go to' was from fashion/lifestyle brand Anthropologie - curious to see their collaboration with the floral print archive of Regent Street store, Liberty - Liberty for Anthropologie
And as I was working in Bath one day last week, I nipped in to the store to see it in person.
So many British companies have extraordinary back-catalogues of IP - in the case of Liberty this consists of reams of beautiful prints, furniture designs, the iconic building and their history. In the UK many of us are familiar with it, but it's name is also a huge draw across the world.
Anthropologie is a great partner for Liberty - their use of colour, pattern, style position, store penetration introduces the British company to an wider, relatively affluent audience. The 71-item range extends from stationery (priced from $16) through to large $3,000 ticket home furnishing items. It is a good partnership, well thought through, with good quality items.
Liberty's owner Blue Gem, a private equity company, must be pleased. And as owners of other British brands such as wool company Sirdar, teen clothing brand, Jack Wills, they are obviously keen to understand the brands they invest in, their potential and really explore what assets can be taken forward and developed.
With their long commercial histories, many British companies have intellectual assets generated in such a wide variety of ways. They are not just sitting in pattern archives, but are to be found in processes, in consumer behaviours, in their knowledge of materials. There is a real wealth of fascinating potential in their day-to-day world.
At an Innovate UK event earlier this year, I entered a discussion with a long-established UK boiler company. They saw themselves solely as boiler-makers and fitters. Nothing more. Yet their lengthy history was full of rich and interesting assets. There were some really intriguing aspects to their offer, ripe for development, ready for much wider exploitation in fast-growing contemporary sectors. It was one of those sparky imaginative 'what if' conversations. Full of thrilling ideas. They had never identified their historic assets could lead to potential growth for the company in the ways we were discussing.
If you run a company - when was the last time you sat down to really trawl through your intellectual assets, not only to understand what it is you own, but what you could potentially do with them? Last month? Last year? Or never? If it's the latter - you are not alone. Most companies would be with you there. But you could be missing out on so much.
No matter how short or long your commercial history, there are always intellectual assets that you can use in different ways to generate new products, services or partnerships. I had a wonderful licensing project some years back from Historic Royal Palaces (lots of history) but also work with more contemporary companies such as software developers, Softwire, or barre studio, Barreworks. Their shorter, more recent commercial histories have thrown up a rich variety of assets, currently being developed into new revenue earning strands.
So be inspired by Liberty, and have a good look at your own commercial history to see what assets you can find there to generate new thinking for your future trading. You could well be surprised.
And if you want some help - please do get in touch with us at Lola. After working with over 200 companies, we've found wonderful assets ripe for development in all of them, in some way or other. firstname.lastname@example.org
The image shows a bowl from the Liberty for Anthropologie range, available autumn 2017