Copyright protection is one of those awkward concepts where we want to be creative whilst respecting the work of others. How can we get it right and show credit where credit is due? Here we lift the lid on this delicate subject that will provide some pointers to help you navigate this seemingly complex maze. We focus on Gallup’s CliftonStrengths® (StrengthsFinder®), material describing how and where to use it appropriately when coaching and creating Strengths-based content.
Firstly, we are not legal experts. The information contained on this website is not sanctioned or endorsed by Gallup®, Inc. Opinions, views and interpretations of CliftonStrengths® or business advice that is provided, are solely the beliefs of Releasing Strengths. For further clarification, seek your own legal advice.
Drawing on our experiences over the years preparing coaching materials and creating the Cascade product, here are some of the things we wished we had known sooner. We aim to provide some clarity for best practices and highlight some of the activities that crossover the legal boundaries.
With any venture using Gallup’s IP for a project, open the conversations with Gallup® early and ask your questions in advance. It is much better to ask for permission than ask for forgiveness.
What is Copyright and why do we need it?
Copyright is an essential legal framework that protects the rights of creators. Respecting copyright is not only a legal requirement but also a fundamental principle that upholds the values of fairness, integrity, and appreciation of the creators.
Gallup® has spent decades researching and creating the CliftonStrengths® assessment and associated material. For example, the wording for the Theme Descriptions is carefully crafted to provide a clear definition for each of the 34 themes. If this information is freely available for anyone to use as they please, it will be subject to amendments and misinterpretation so the credibility and integrity of the content will be diluted.
As Strengths Coaches, we depend on the integrity of Gallup’s material which underpins many of our coaching businesses and activities. If the credibility of CliftonStrengths® is weakened, so too may our businesses. It is therefore our duty as coaches – especially Gallup® Certified Coaches – to uphold the correct processes and encourage appropriate use.
Copyright and Trademarks – Gallup’s perspective
Scott Wright, Gallup’s licensing and permissions expert, explains Trademarks and Copyright in this 5 minute section of Called To Coach.
Scott also shares the example that when you park your car on a public road, it still belongs to you, it is not there for other people to take for their own use. Similarly, when Gallup® hosts information on their website or in the Public Domain, it is still their information. You can link to it and if there’s an option, you can share the link in a post but don’t download it to host on your own site. Scott describes this further in Called To Coach.
Similarly, Disney® needs to protect its assets. If someone prints Disney® characters on T-shirts, mugs, or posters, etc, Disney® will want to know about it and expect appropriate recognition and remuneration. Gallup® is no different.
What information is protected by Gallup’s Copyright?
In simple terms – everything on the Gallup® website and all the content and material from Gallup’s courses, books, and publications is protected by copyright. This includes graphs, charts, statistics, quotations, worksheets, slide decks, and anything else they have created. This principle also applies to every other company that creates content.
As a Gallup® Certified Strengths Coach, Gallup® makes some of its material available for personal use when coaching.
Using Gallup® Content in Worksheets and Websites
Now we know about the purpose of copyright, let’s look at what CliftonStrengths® material we can use and where.
Can I share the Gallup® worksheets with my clients?
The GGSC (Gallup® Global Strengths Coach) course and the Strengths Coaching Starter kit provide several worksheets and forms to structure the coaching experience. Gallup® lets course attendees and purchasers of the kits share these documents in their original form for personal use. Our understanding is that personal use only includes your coaching clients and those in your coaching practice.
Keep the PDFs in their original form as they should not be edited by adding your branding or removing any of the copyright statements. It comes down to perception as to who the reader believes the author to be. When copying someone’s worksheet, give credit where credit is due respecting the other person’s material. Also, check their copyright terms as it may say;
In the event of any permitted copying, redistribution or publication of copyrighted material, no changes in or deletion of author attribution, trademark legend or copyright notice shall be made.
Where do I find the Gallup® Worksheets?
The Gallup® CliftonStrengths® worksheets, forms and slide decks are on the USB stick if you took the GGSC course with the paper files. Later class attendees and purchasers of the Digital Kits will find them in the Learning Center section of Gallup® Acess. Login to Gallup® Access and use the Main Menu at the top left. Select Learning Center to show the available modules then download the documents for A4 or Letter size paper.
Creating additional Strengths material
When sharing Strengths material, make it clear what has come from Gallup® and what is your own interpretation. Include this text on any non-Gallup® material referencing CliftonStrengths®.
The non-Gallup® information you are receiving has not been approved and is not sanctioned or endorsed by Gallup® in any way. Opinions, views and interpretations of CliftonStrengths®, Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer® or BP10® results are solely the beliefs of [Insert Name of Company or Individual].
What information can I share with a wider audience?
Gallup® lets GGSC course attendees share their worksheets for personal use with your coaching clients, beyond this it gets more complicated. Sharing information to your mailing list, placing it on your website, or posting it to a private or public social media account, pushes the copyright boundaries.
Some coaches have websites listing all 34 CliftonStrengths® themes along with proprietary information about each theme. This is a complete no-no, as it is replicating Gallup’s content. By all means, link to the pages on Gallup’s website listing the theme names, but don’t host other people’s information on your site without permission.
Selling or sharing any products or tools outside of a direct coaching arrangement containing Gallup® IP may need a Licensing Agreement. For example, taking something from the GGSC course, Access or Cascade to sell on the open market or give away for free. This also applies to repackaging reports with your own branding and printing the theme names on products.
Creating a Product or Writing a Book that includes CliftonStrengths®
Many coaches have written books advocating the use of CliftonStrengths® and referencing the theme names. There are also several official products using the theme names on Mugs, T-Shirts, or Stickers, in addition to software products like Cascade. These all went through the licensing process to create a formal license agreement with Gallup®.
It is strongly advisable to contact Gallup® before your book goes to press, or you start sharing or selling a product, to clarify the IP usage and check for correct wording of the Gallup® references. Updating the content after production can be expensive.
To help reach a greater audience, we can feature approved licensed products on the Strengths Resources website. Check out the existing books and merchandise by Gallup® Licensees.
Called To Coach – Licensing and Copyright Best Practices
The Called To Coach session with Sallie Peters explains more about the proper use of Gallup’s material.
Following the recording in May 2020, the best person to contact is now Scott Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have an idea or a product that may benefit Gallup®?
Gallup® is actively looking for products to enhance CliftonStrengths®. Their Catalyst Program provides a pathway to foster collaboration with external organizations. The first product in the program was Cascade from Releasing Strengths in 2022. Since then, Warmly is on board with their skin for Zoom sessions that display your CliftonStrengths® themes.
More information is in the article Multiplying the Impact: Catalyst and Partnering With Gallup®. It contains the CliftonStrengths® Success Story with Liz Uebele describing the Gallup® Catalyst program drawing on examples from the acquisition of Cascade. Contact the Catalyst team via the Catalyst Program page.
Use of the CliftonStrengths® and StrengthsFinder® names
When setting up your coaching practice, it is tempting to incorporate familiar words into your brand. Gallup® specifically does not permit the use of Gallup®, StrengthsFinder®, CliftonStrengths®, or other Gallup® trademarks in product naming. This includes business, website, or email names, implying that there is an association with Gallup®. As an independent coach, be very careful how you position yourself with Gallup®. You cannot call yourself an employee of Gallup®, partner, or imply that you are affiliated or sponsored by Gallup®. More information is in the Trademark and Copyright rules.
As a Gallup® Certified Strengths Coach, assuming that your certification is still valid, it is worth adding this credential to your publicity. The Gallup® Certified Strengths Coach logo is available to download from your profile in Gallup® Access. The different file formats, for your use only, are in the Coach Certification section. Recently Gallup® teamed up with Credly® so you can now create a Credly badge as a Gallup® Certified Strengths Coach.
Your website is all about you, your brand, and the services you offer – so make it your own. Yes, Gallup® and CliftonStrengths® (or StrengthsFinder®) may feature in your toolkit, but ultimately your clients are buying into YOU. Similarly, when looking for a garage to service your car, you are not interested in the mechanic’s toolbox, what matters is their ability to make your car reliable and efficient. Therefore, promote your services on how you can benefit your customers, ahead of the tools you use.
Practical tips when citing and referencing CliftonStrengths®
We’ve covered some of the theory, how do we put it into practice?
Citing Gallup® information and quotes
Now let’s look at the statistics, charts, and quotations Gallup® shares and how best to reference them. As with any information, Gallup® has spent considerable time researching the data to calculate the figures, which are subject to copyright.
Some of Gallup’s emails and web articles include social media sharing icons. Use these buttons to share a link to the information source on your preferred platform. This is quite acceptable and encouraged, as Gallup® wants to expand the reach of their findings.
Copying and pasting or reproducing the information is a different matter. Including a statistic, chart, or quotation in your material requires proper referencing and sometimes additional permission. See Gallup’s short article How should I cite Gallup® in my work?
There are a few accepted formats for citing and referencing the content creator. The popular formats are the APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association).
Including a Quotation crediting the originator
There are many wise words shared by Gallup® and other sources of inspiration. Here is an example of a quotation and how to cite it correctly.
What will happen when we think about what is right with people
rather than fixating on what is wrong with them?
Don Clifton | (1924-2003)
Quoting Statistics identifying the source
Before including a statistic or chart, identify the original and most reliable source. Here’s a statistic many coaches share on their websites and course materials with the proper citation.
Gallup®, Inc. (1999-Present). Learn About the Science and Validity of CliftonStrengths®. Gallup®. gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/253790/science-of-cliftonstrengths.aspx
The APA format when referencing a web page is;
Author last name, Initials. (Year, Month Day). Page title. Website Name. URL
Sharing a quote from a book respecting the author
Here is an example of APA styles for a quotation from the Wellbeing at Work book.
The five key elements of wellbeing are career, social, financial, physical and community – in that order.
Clifton, J. and Harter J. (2021). Wellbeing at Work (1st ed.). Gallup® Press.
The APA format is: Author last name, Initials. (Year). Book title: Subtitle (Edition). Publisher or URL
What is the difference between CliftonStrengths® and StrengthsFinder®?
Is it CliftonStrengths® or StrengthsFinder®? They both refer to the same assessment, so why are there two names?
Following the launch of StrengthsFinder® in 1999, the assessment grew in popularity, especially with the book StrengthsFinder 2.0 in 2007. Giving credit to Donald Clifton – the father of strengths-based psychology – the assessment was renamed to CliftonStrengths® in 2015. The formal name is officially CliftonStrengths® although many people still refer to it as StrengthsFinder®. Whichever name you use, you are not wrong, but the trend is moving towards CliftonStrengths®. The Gallup® website and all the reports refer to CliftonStrengths®, so where possible this is the preferred option.
On a similar subject, it is CliftonStrengths® as one word, not Clifton Strengths or Clifton Strengthsfinder. Note also that the word Strengths has a capital S. Similarly, it is StrengthsFinder ®, not Strengths Finder as two words or the plural Strengths Finders. If you are a Gallup® Certified Strengths Coach, it shows professionalism by being consistent with Gallup® and getting the naming convention correct.
How to add the Registered
® and Copyright © Symbols
CliftonStrengths®, StrengthsFinder® and each of the 34 theme names are registered trademarks of Gallup® so they should be followed by the Registered symbol ®. Gallup® has many more trademark registrations that you can see on their Complete listing of Trademarks. Technically there is one exception, the theme of Restorative™ uses the TM symbol as the word has not been formally registered.
The easiest way to add the Registered symbol from your keyboard is to hold down the left Alt key and enter 169 in the number pad. Alt + 169 will insert the ® symbol. Alt + 0174 also works on some computers and on a Mac use Option + R. For neatness, make it superscript so it appears near the top of the line. Look for the x2 option in your editor. In HTML the code is <sup>®</sup>
The code for the TM symbol is Alt + 0153 or on a Mac use Option + 2. For the Copyright symbol © use Alt + 0169 or on a Mac it is Option + G.
How do I provide a Copyright notice for the Gallup® material?
Whenever you use the Gallup® theme names in a document or web article, give reference to Gallup® as it is their material.
Gallup®, CliftonStrengths®, StrengthsFinder® and the 34 theme names of CliftonStrengths® are trademarks of Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved. To learn more about CliftonStrengths®, please visit Gallup Access.
What are the correct Domain Colors?
When using colors to represent the four Domains, it is important to be consistent and use the formal colors. Here is the standard color pallet for the Domains with the HEX and RGB numbers.
In 2019 the colors were updated to align with the ADA (American Disability Act) standards. The Strategic Thinking domain which was red, is now green.
Contacting Gallup® about Copyright and Licensing
When developing resources containing CliftonStrengths® material, it is best to contact the licensing team directly. Other staff may share their opinion but ultimately it is the Licensing Team who makes the decisions. The best person to contact is Scott Wright at email@example.com
References and Links
Follow these links to see the official information from Gallup®.
- All of Gallup’s Legal Policies
- Gallup® Permissions – How to properly use Gallup® Content
- How to cite Gallup® data in your work
- How to submit a research proposal to Gallup®
- Gallup’s Trademark and Copyright Rules
- Listing of Gallup’s Trademarks
- Professional Conduct Rules
Finally, copyright protection is for the benefit of the creator, it may be yourself or someone else. Respecting the work of other people adds to their credibility and to your own for following best practices.
Respecting Gallup’s work will help to protect the CliftonStrengths® material and the credibility of our own businesses. Together, let’s foster a culture of respect, integrity, and appreciation for the work of others, ensuring that creativity continues to flourish and enrich the Strengths movement.
As a reminder, we are not legal experts. The information contained on this website is not sanctioned or endorsed by Gallup®, Inc. Opinions, views and interpretations of CliftonStrengths® or business advice that is provided, are solely the beliefs of Releasing Strengths. For further clarification, seek your own legal advice.