Intellectual Property: A Funny Thing Happened When Seeking the Truth about an Altered Document and Brand…

by Robin Thompson

I had a unique experience involving my love of information and documents that I want to share with my fellow practitioners who guard information as an asset.

I love looking at documents for anomalies, kerning that is off, a suggestion of alteration or misuse.  Information is an asset to be protected as it creates value and risk.  As I migrated into blogging and marketing, branding became an essential part of that value equation.

Fast forward, I loved the King of Queens.  My daughter bought me Leah’s book, Troublemaker.  There’s one part of that story that reminded me of Tara when Leah describes working as a telemarketer, and the person keeps hanging up on her, and she calls him back “Are you some kind of * animal?” and Tara said “does that remind you of someone calling back  a rude customer service person, and asking to speak with someone bipedal?”  This led me to watch Leah’s documentary.

On one of those shows, I noticed a document allegedly written by a University encouraging one side of an issue, rather than a scholarly debate.  I read the University’s Brand Management and Brand Usage guidelines, and could not reconcile the document I saw posted on the show with those guidelines.

I wrote the Brand Manager, sending a screenshot and link to the document as well as their brand guidelines, pointing out that the letterhead gave the illusion of the University Logo and suggestive styling, but that I would be surprised, after years of establishing a strong global brand, that they would take a stand on an issue, rather than encourage scholarly debate.

Sure enough, she wrote me back and said her faculty denied writing the letter, and that the brand was misused and that the University was looking into pursuing that misuse.

I posted the response and immediately got an email from Tony Ortega who told me that their group had been looking to disprove the letter for months and did not think to challenge brand, and he found it interesting, interviewed me and wrote a story.   My phone and internet started “blowing up,” as the story was averaging 51,000 views every 6 hours.  I was having folks reach out to me from marketing, branding, information management, actors, other authors wanted to talk about the person who uncovered the use of the brand without permission.  The University letterhead was removed, and the same letter appeared on another piece of stationery, and the reported tongue in cheek asked if it were used without permission.  Sure enough, the brand guidelines for that church prohibit even the use of the church’s name as its intellectual property not to be used on social media, and the Pastor called me personally.  This is probably the coolest thing that has happened, outside of finding evidence in the documents, from the love of information and the brand we and it carry.I had a very interesting experience involving my love of information and documents that I want to share with my fellow practitioners who guard information as an asset.

A final word, these various stories are one of the reasons I love working with IG GURU® to help spread the word about the various types of stories we share that all come back to information and its governance.  I highly recommend it.

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