Business across the globe is built on brands – but what truly is a brand, and how do you protect it? The well-known author and marketer, Seth Godin, defines a brand as “a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another”.
Essentially, a strong brand influences purchasing decisions – but it does a whole lot more besides that. A brand gives a business its identity and ethos. It also, very cleverly, enables companies to charge a premium for their products or services. Just think about how many times you have chosen to pay extra for a branded product simply because you know and trust the name?
So, whether you sell consumer goods or specialist technology, supply professional services, or operate an online platform, a strong brand is extremely valuable, which is why protecting it is so very important.
As a business, you protect the reputation of your brand by providing a high-quality product or service and ensuring your actions reflect and uphold the values and ethos of your brand. However, if we think back to Seth Godin’s description, that a brand affects a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another, it becomes clear that perhaps the most important part of brand protection is ensuring consumers are able to identify your goods or services over others.
This is where trade marks come in. The terms ‘trade mark’ and ‘brand name’ are often used interchangeably as they mean essentially the same thing – the name or mark that allows consumers to identify your products or services as yours. A company’s most valuable trade mark will usually be its name and the names of its products and services. But trade marks also come in the form of logos, colours, shapes, sounds and even smells.
A key part of every company’s brand protection policy should therefore be identifying and registering its trade marks. Registration gives you the sole right to use your trade mark in relation to the goods or services it is registered for and, with effective enforcement, enables your trade mark to retain its critical function of identifying your products or services and differentiating them from others. Furthermore, failing to register means there is a much higher risk that you could be prevented from using your trade mark in the future by a third party. It is therefore an essential tool in effective brand protection and one that should not be overlooked.
Trade mark registration can be a relatively cheap and quick process, and can be achieved by four simple steps.
Continue for the four steps of trade mark registration…
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