The key to securing a world-class brand..
Our quick guide to what makes a good brand, and things that businesses should consider when launching.
Disclaimer: This Virtuoso Legal article should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own solicitor on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.
By Todd Bateman
A brand can make or break a business.
A good brand means a protected and recognisable identity that people seek near and far.
A bad brand means lacking an overall distinctive impression in the eyes of the public - resulting in limited commercial growth and even legal issues.
It is important to get it right from the outset.
In this FAQ we want to help you understand the question ‘what makes a good brand?’
The recipe for a good brand is not set in stone and relies on specific commercial requirements unique to the business looking to secure it.
However, there are some good rules of thumb that will set you on the right path...
Stand out of the crowd
When devising a brand it is important to first decide what you want to stand for within the broader marketplace.
Are you premium? Are you a budget option? Are you dynamic? Are you resolute? Are you contemporary? Are you traditional?
All of these meanings are important and will play a big part in how you refine and select the brand you will attach to your goods and services.
The brand that you register should be aligned with this though remember, the reputation that you build will also become associated with your brand and form part of what it means to the buying public.
Using Apple as an example, their brand "meaning" is to change the world with innovation and they do a good job of making the world see this. Whilst an "Apple" as a concept is not explicitly related with innovation, the brand and its logos have, over the course of time become synonymous with it because of the reputation they have gained for their products.
The brand incidentally was originally chosen as a reference to Isaac Newton and the apple which led him to discover gravity, and the "apple of knowledge" from the Bible.
These meanings aren't so obvious now, but you can see how the meanings that people associate with Apple in the first place were thought about in the beginning.
Your brand should not be something that contradicts what you want to become known for in your marketplace.
It should also be something that doesn't just blend in amongst everything else. Be bold!
A recognisable identity
Good brands are distinct amongst their peers and should be developed with this distinctiveness in mind.
Distinctiveness means that should your product be on the shelf amongst a range of other similar products - yours stands out and makes an impact.
Sometimes this can be quite clever and actually reference different attributes of your products or services which other competitors do not have.
For example, Under Armour has become a popular brand of fitness wear.
It is very subtle, but Under Armour may have been one of the first within the category to reference ideas of "strength" and "defence" as opposed to "speed" and "attack" meanings in its branding (e.g. Nike and adidas).
By being distinct, it quickly found a foothold in certain types of sports where strength and resilience were key attributes.
The same goes for Smartwater, where before no other water products really took that angle (hydration that is "smart" in both being optimized and for people who align themselves with the "smart" meaning). Most instead focused on the origin or purity of their water.
To really make waves in the marketplace you will want to similarly stand apart from everyone else, and communicate this as part of your brand and its messaging.
Make sure it's protectable!
Now you have a distinct and meaningful brand in mind, you will want to make sure it is one that you can protect in the long term.
Brands are protected by registered rights known as trade marks.
Most companies will, typically, register trade marks for important words and logos related to their products and services.
McDonald's for example, will have trade marks for MCDONALD'S, BIC MAC and their "golden arches" logo (amongst hundreds of others).
A key part of the success of really big worldwide brands is the broad net of trade marks they have to protect the look at feel of their unique brands, goods and services.
There are certain things that you can and certain things that you cannot register as trade marks.
To make sure that your brand stays unique and offers a platform for you to grow your business on - you will want to ensure that the brands that you are after can be protected.
Broadly speaking, there are two tests that determine if they can be registered.
The first is a legal test which is undertaken by the examiner. There are certain brands that can certainly not be protected as trade marks. This includes things such as certain flags, terms that are overly descriptive, and those which are immoral and so on. It is best to speak to a solicitor who knows about trade marks to be sure your brands are prepared in the best way possible to pass this test.
The second test is where your brand is reviewed in comparison to others that are already out there in the space. To do this, it is published, and anyone who thinks that it might be too similar to theirs can then be notified and can then oppose the trade mark. For this reason, it is important to make sure that a clearance search has been undertaken to find out what other brands and trade marks are out there which might present a hurdle when it comes to registering your brand.
You can do a basic search yourself using the search available on the trade mark registry, and even by looking on Google. But to be sure that you are able to proceed, the best idea is to have a professional search, as there are certain rules about similarity which can cause problems for those who don't do the right due dilligence.
Whilst it can be frustrating sometimes to find out that you can't use a brand you were planning on - a fully cleared and secured brand will give you a solid and distinct brand identity to build a reputation and commercial success upon. Again speak to a solicitor who specialises in this area before making any big decisions (signage, packaging, van decals etc!)
Having the right brand strategy!
Once you have a strong brand on paper that is secured with strong trade marks, you need a long-term plan with objectives to push your commercial presence in the right direction.
Your strategy might include things such as:
- Target audience, who are you trying to reach out to and how does your brand suit their wants and needs, how are you getting your brand in front of these stakeholders?
- Market research, look for opportunities in the market that you can fulfil. This can take the form of feedback from customers and clients about their feelings toward your brand, the products category more broadly and competitors. Answering latent needs within the product or service category can supercharge a brand as a disruptor.
- Brand personality is next. Don’t be a business that has no character, reach out and engage with your customers. Branding and marketing more generally can cover all "touchpoints" where any stakeholder comes into contact with your business. This personality should be consistent across the customer journey, and all interactions with your company. This results in a certain "feel" that is uniquely yours and attributable to your brand.
Remember everything that you do underneath the banner that is your brand becomes a meaning that becomes associated with it!
It is this ongoing relationship that all your customers and clients have with your brand (and everyone else too) which becomes the magnet that brings more people toward your business.
Crafting the experience is important and can make you stand out as a "must-have" within your category.
With this and all of the above, you'll be on your way to rapid growth in no time!
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Virtuoso Legal is a team of intellectual property specialists based in Leeds and London - operating worldwide. Virtuoso Legal's team of IP experts have successfully tried cases in the IPEC, High Court, Court of Appeals and United Kingdom Supreme Court. In addition, the team assist companies in creating, commercialising and protecting the big ideas that make their business unique. The firm and its professionals are ranked yearly in legal directories such as the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, cementing their status as a Top 2% law firm in the world.