Trade Mark Loving Care (TLC): A guide to brand managementBrand Camp
January 22, 2020
An attention grabbing brand will need some attention
Hey brand owners. You've created your brand. You've even ticked trade mark protection off your to-do list. And now you're kicking back with some R&R - registration and relaxation. Don’t get too comfortable though. Because creating and registering a trade mark is one thing; brand management is another. This is where a little TLC, trade mark loving care, can go a long way. Here’s a guide to keeping your brand, and rights, nice and shiny.
Stroll down memory lane
Reflecting how and why your brand began, can give you an idea of where it needs to go next. Take some time to revisit your brand story, values and assets. What’s been working for your brand? Is it staying true to your vision and values? Were there any hard-learned branding lessons? Look back on your brand and business, appreciate where it’s at and plan for the future.
Whether it’s a big brand or cult favourite, consistency is the key to a brand winning hearts and minds in the marketplace. It’s hard to build up genuine kudos and credibility in your business if you’re constantly chopping and changing your brand. And if you’ve gone to the effort of registering a trade mark - use it or lose it. Seems obvious but it’s important to put your trade mark to good use and ensure your use is consistent with your actual trade mark registration to help maintain your trade mark rights.
Where everybody knows your name
Brand awareness can help with your brand consistency. Create brand or style guides to educate your customers and employees about your brand. Outline the do’s and don’ts when it comes to using your brand assets. Take a leaf out of Instagram’s or Netflix’s playbook and provide brand guidelines on your website for your customers. NASA created an iconic Graphics Standard Manual, which served as a blueprint and its official policy for employees, setting out the standards for how the NASA logotype was to be used.
Bowie made it look easy but reinvention is effort-intensive. Take care and consider why and when you might rebrand. For example, redefining your brand vision or purpose, repositioning your business to a new market, or introducing a change in leadership or ownership. Whatever the change, make sure your brand management strategy rolls with the change too. And before you get carried away with a rebrand, do research (read: homework) to check you can use, and also protect, your shiny new brand.
Product names, service names, tag lines, colours, shapes – there’s more to a brand than just a business name or a logo. A good brand management strategy involves a regular audit of your business and brand portfolio, to identify important or new brand assets. On the flip side, a review can also help identify existing brand assets that might need to be revived (who else is waiting for the Polly Waffle comeback?), or ones that haven't aged gracefully and need to be retired (looking in your direction Victoria's Secret).
Breaking new ground
Go scouting and expand your horizons to maximise the potential of your brand. What other products or services can your business and brand offer? Is there an untapped market or industry that you could venture into? Do you go it alone? Or are there licensing or collaborative opportunities with others out in the big wide business world? If you need inspiration, check out Lego. The brand has gone above and beyond the humble little plastic brick by diversifying its business over the years.
Hey savvy spender
As your brand portfolio grows, your existing brand protection strategy might not be relevant anymore. Continue investing in trade mark registrations to protect new brand assets. Having registered trade mark rights is great but it’s not an automatic defence against any copycats. You’ll also need to invest in enforcement strategies and actions like cease and desist letters, takedown notices, trade mark oppositions and watching searches to monitor activities of any competitors or copycats.
Don’t compare and despair. Learn from your competitors instead of copying them - that’s a no-no. Identify what competitor offerings or strategies work and why. Observe emerging market trends. Keeping an eye on the competition can also help you identify and deal with any potential copycat issues sooner rather than later. Competition should be a challenge to create, innovate and differentiate your brand from the crowd.
Keeping up with the details
Like all good things, registered trade mark rights do come to an end – unless you renew them. You’ll need to renew your trade mark registration, every 10 years from the date of filing, if you want to maintain that that exclusivity status. Keep your contact details up to date either with your legal representative or the Trade Mark Office (if you’re DIY-ing your trade mark management) so you don’t miss those all-important renewal reminders and other important correspondence.
Rinse and repeat
As your business grows and evolves, your brand will too. Effective brand management is a continued work in progress. Make TLC part of your business practice and strategy.
Need a hand pampering your brand with trade mark protection and advice? Get in touch with us.