In a (super) league of their own

The news this week has been dominated by one story – the creation of the European Super League. The reaction from football fans, non-football fans, business leaders and politicians has underlined the magnitude of the situation, with everyone having an opinion on the rights and wrongs of the news and its impact on football in general.

It it relatively clear this wasn’t a decision that was made in the past few days, or even in the last week. There are twelve football clubs from England, Italy and Spain involved, plus a US financial backer. Add in legal teams, branding consultants and other entities and it becomes clear this would have been in the planning for some time.

The European Super League is a new brand, launched as the organisation that will (at the time of writing) oversee the competition which will (probably) start at some point in the future. When the news started to leak out on Sunday evening, there was a lack of any concrete information available online, but come the morning of Monday 19th April, there was a press release and a website ready, complete with its own domain name.

Any organisation, which is planning on launching a new brand, needs to take a number of steps to ensure they have understood the digital landscape and that they are not either infringing on someone else’s Intellectual Property or that they can protect their new brand/business name as quickly as possible. There is always a danger of a leak, as with the European Super League, which could lead to domain name speculators trying to make a quick buck by registering potentially infringing domain names. Whilst there is always a legal course of action open to recover infringing registrations, in many instances the costs could be prohibitive to a new entity.

The other issue is time – dealing with IP infringements or negotiating the purchase of digital assets takes time which could in turn lead to delays while recovering or purchasing (at a huge premium) the required domain names or worse registering a whole new set of domains and trademarks.

It is therefore essential to have a brand launch strategy, one that encompasses the necessary steps to obtain the intellectual property before and general launch, or potential leaks. In the case of the European Super League it seems the organisation were thinking ahead, purchasing the domain name on the secondary market six months ago as the following information shows.

A brand launch strategy needs to encompass domain names, trademarks, copyrights and now, more than ever, social media handles. Interestingly, the Twitter handle “TheSuperLeague” was registered back in September but as yet has not tweeted nor does it have any followers or information in its bio, a similar situation to the Facebook Group name.

On the domain name side, thesuperleague.net was registered on Sunday (via GoDaddy) whilst there are existing domain names and websites in use relating to Rugby League’s Super League (such as superleague.co.uk) which could cause some confusion.

Any organisation or brand that is considering creating a new entity should have a brand launch strategy in place. This should include:

  • An understanding of what the brand name translates to both in common language but also when you push the words together – for instance Powergen Italia looks fine written like that but remove the space in between the two words and it is a different story.
  • Does the brand name have alternative meanings?
  • What is the budget for acquiring the assets?
  • What digital assets are available and what could be purchased at low cost?
  • What trademarks already exist for the brand, where and in which classes?

Naturally, the ongoing success and reputation of any new brand needs to be underpinned by a brand monitoring and protection programme which is able to frequently, if not constantly, monitor for any infringing registrations of domain names, trademarks or social media handles as well as the content associated with them. Based on the outcry at the proposed European Super League that may be a very busy job indeed at the moment.

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