Knowing how to create a strong brand is as important as correct and consistent use of the mark in your commercial endeavors. Creating a brand is not just about coming up with a strong name, catchy slogan and recognizable logo. Your company’s brand is your company’s identity. It should be incorporated into every aspect of the business, internal and external. This includes the obvious markings on websites and packaging, but also the subtle choices, such as office décor. Think about it – if you run an auto shop that custom-builds motorcycles, would you rather consider tile or hardwood floors? Would you fill your lobby with leather furniture with a cherry finish or with flame and fat boy tire etching?
When my office relocated to accommodate our growing firm, I was given a blank slate. Every color choice for the walls, the way we planned the room layouts, how we structured the lobby, all spoke to my brand and what my firm represents. I even hired a website developer to incorporate this image on a new website.
The first step is in developing your brand. Is your product in a crowded or diluted field? It is important to pick marks that are sufficiently distinctive and for which strong trademark rights can be secured. It is also a good idea to to undertake relatively inexpensive clearance searches at the early stages to uncover any potential barriers to registration or potential infringement. Involving a trademark attorney at the inception of a new product branding concept can mitigate the risk that resources will be wasted on developing a mark that cannot be registered or that will be weak and difficult to enforce over time.
Once you have some of the elements of your brand – logos, slogans, color scheme, etc. – you need to figure out how and where to implement them. The sky is the limit here and really depends on how you run your business and the tools you have on hand. If a big part of your business is writing letters to clients or potential clients to whom you are trying to demonstrate confidence in your business, you may want to invest in nice letterhead with your logo, in color, printed on top. If you are a tech-savvy business and rely heavily on internet traffic, your time and money would be wisely spent on a well-integrated website.
All of these efforts are known collectively as brand management, and includes both mark development and implementation. This is not a job for the weary and is best handled by multiple people, either in-house, outsourced or some combination thereof.
Who should be educated about brand management? Your company should have guidelines or criteria for your marketing team, design engineers, and website developers for selecting new marks, packaging and branding. Anyone involved in branding should understand descriptive, suggestive, generic and arbitrary categories for marks in order to contribute to your brand effectively. Marketing department employees, executive team, legal team, franchisees/licensees, vendors, distributors and suppliers, sales department, social media content writers, website developers and graphic designers all play a role in corporate branding and should be educated about the basics of trademark law to be truly effective at their job. Company training programs are the most important part of brand management.
With a single, defined brand, backed by strong trademark protection, your company is well-suited to becoming easily distinguished from its competitors. For most businesses, becoming well-known and well-recognized by the general public is essential to the company’s survival. Whether you are thinking about starting your business, reinventing your brand, or just now catching on to the importance of branding, it is never too late to start implementing the tools that could make or break your business or determine the extent of your success.