Brand building is a way of cultivating customer loyalty; the modern customer likes to be connected to a company they know and trust for each category of product that he/she buys, branding gives you a headway into a customer’s mind.
Depending upon the industry that you are in, the requirements to create a strong brand and a sustainable business varies. For example, in the fashion industry, branding is absolutely essential, the logo and image of the company is a big part of the product itself. But in the small hardware tools market, where goods are commodities bought via specific retailers, product brands are essentially invisible. However, branding is absolutely essential to “go big” in most industries, make no mistakes about that.
So without further ado, let’s look at a few points which will help you get started with building and protecting your own brand.
Do you really own your brand?
This is a question which keeps a lot of brand managers up at nights. There are a few key points which make a brand unique – the Logo, the name, the slogan, the branding colors, the branding elements (shapes, slogans, words). These are the things that defines your brand and makes your image coherent. For example, if you take Coca Cola’s advertisements from 20 years back and compare them to today’s ads, you will find the same type of words, the same red and white color to brand, sure a few things must have changed to keep up with the customer demands (Why do you think big corporations spend millions every year on branding teams?), but the core tone remains the same.
So staying consistent is the first thing to focus on. While building your brand, make sure that the: (i) Name (ii) Logo (iii) Branding colors and elements do not infringe on another company’s trademarks. Make sure that you make thorough searches, if you are setting up an international business, check the trademark databases in countries where you will do any type of businesses (selling, buying or manufacturing) to check for similarities. This step is really important as it will save you the long-term headache and costs of re-branding.
While finding exactly similar trademark, especially if we are talking about a word, is pretty easy, it might get trickier to search for words that the government might consider too similar. Not to mention searching for images or shapes. MUSA Trademark can help you with these trademark searches in Taiwan, China and across the world.
Once your searches shows green light, it is time to register your trademark to make sure that no one else can legally use the same brand for their own businesses. Registering your trademark is not enough if you do not check on unauthorized use of your trademark and enforce it. If usage of your trademark becomes too generic, you can lose legal protection and your brand becomes a regular word. Names such as Band-Aid and Aspirin were once registered trademarks.
Every business has competitors and there’s no bigger win for a competitor than being able to take your brand for themselves. So once you create your trademark, make sure that you stay consistent with your branding elements across all your channels (Brick&Mortar/Online), marketing activities (Offline/Online), products, etc. If you are investing in online marketing, such as social media marketing or pay per click marketing, make sure you stay consistent on those platforms as well. If you do not use a certain element consistently then you risk that a competitor can apply to have your rights removed on that element.
One should also keep in mind that being consistent helps create a strong brand as well. If you use the same elements (overall creative can vary) in all your marketing and branding activities, it will also help resonate with your customers better.
As your company and products are developing, remember to register the trademarks for new product names and extensions as well, not just for your main company name.
Building your brand is the first step, but protecting it ensures that you are on the right track. We at MUSA Trademark advise companies to take a long-term view with their business and be on the safe side. Contact MUSA now for questions regarding protecting your brand.