A well-defined, recognized and respected business brand is a substantial asset for any company. Business leaders should spare no expense or energy in aggressively defending their brand from infringement. This protection includes setting clear standards for how the brand is used and communicated from within, as well as from encroachment by others.
It also means that business leaders should actively watch for negative stories and comments about the company and find a way to make it right. For example, NASCAR has started fining drivers who speak negatively about the sport to protect the NASCAR image.
Several companies offer Internet monitoring of brand identity. There is scant evidence that these companies are truly effective at assessing and protecting a brand against all aspects of online infringement.
Trademarks are often some of the most valuable assets of a business – legend has it that Coke is the second most well known word in the world after “hello.” The Google brand is estimated to be worth more than $20 billion. A trademark is a brand name, logo, or slogan that distinguishes your business’ products or services from those of competitors. Regardless of how big or small the business, the value and protection of brands is critical, particularly in the online word of today where domain names and user names (such as Facebook and Twitter) can be key to connecting with customers.
To help protect your brand(s), here are five basic steps to strengthening your trademark protection:
- Choose Wisely
The more creative your brand name is, the greater the odds that it is unique. A more distinctive and create name or slogan is generally more capable of standing out among the competition and becoming a brand with real value. Which sounds like a more exciting brand, a more valuable brand: “Jim’s Gym” or “Vantage Fitness?
- Use it
The more you use your trademarks – brand names, logos and slogans – the stronger and more distinctive they become and the more your likely customers are to remember your brand and to use it to tell others about it.
- Distinguish It
Use ALL CAPS, bold or italics to emphasize your brand as often as you can. Then the customer knows exactly what your brand is.
- Apply to register it
Registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a federal agency and part of the Department of Commerce, enhances the protection and the value of your trademark assets. Registration allows use of the ® symbol, provides substantial benefits and savings if you ever have to go to court to stop an infringement, and may help stop cybersquatters from registering new domain names.
- Create Google Alerts
An easy and free way to monitor for others copying your brand or commenting on it. If you find a possible infringement, contact the offender and if unresolved, contact an attorney.