Got a strong brand? Prove it.
Imagine your business has a “secret sauce.” This secret sauce makes customers line up around the block. You can sell more of your stuff at higher prices, greatly increasing your profits. Your competitors are drooling and offer to buy your business at a value of 5-10x your revenue.
Would you protect that secret sauce?
Now apply that same thought process to your brand. Your brand IS your secret sauce.
Why protect my brand?
Quite simply, your brand is your primary business asset. You invest time and money into creating and maintaining your brand. Protect it so you can receive a return on that investment (ROI).
The ROI for your brand building activities should be at least 3x.
A strong brand will: (1) help you sell your product/service today, (2) make tomorrow’s sale easier - grow your margin, and (3) over time will increase your company’s value (via its stock price or sale price).
How do I protect my brand?
Many marketing gurus are all preaching the same thing these days: build your email list so that you own it and not Facebook/Instagram/platform du jour. You want to build your following on a property that you own, not one that someone else owns.
The same is true for your brand.
For your brand to be an asset, it must be a piece of property that you own. Your brand is a product of creativity and design — a product of your mind — which makes it intellectual property. (This is usually the point where your eyes glaze over. But hold on! This next point is important.)
One of the key aspects of protecting your brand is getting a trademark for your critical brand elements: product name(s), logo, taglines.
Pick the right trademark
A trademark is different from your domain name. It is different from the words you use in your ads, SEO, or keywords. It might even be different from your business name.
The trick with trademarks is that it must be unique. Not just different from other trademarks, but unique in how that word or phrase applies to your business.
A name that is too descriptive of your product is not protectable. For example, if you sell t-shirts, and you name your business T-Shirt Ultra, you cannot get a trademark for that name.
The strongest trademarks are fanciful or made-up words. Think Xerox, Lululemon, Hulu, or Pepsi. Suggestive words are also strong trademarks — like Greyhound for bus services. A customer has to use their imagination to conclude that the bus travels as fast as a greyhound dog.
Strong trademarks come with strong legal protections. They also help you stand out in a crowded marketplace. These two elements can create massive value within your business. Do not short-change yourself.
Your brand is your secret sauce for your business - protect it!
Get trademarks for your critical brand elements: logo, product name, tagline.
Make your trademarks fanciful or suggestive, not descriptive.
First published on March 28, 2018. Revised and updated on December 7, 2018.