When building a brand, managing your trademark properly is the key to ensuring its value and longevity. Like other business assets, the development of a strategy and protection plan will allow you to nurture the growth of your brand and increase the value of your trademark.
Trademarks are fairly inexpensive to register and renew, provided that you continue to actively use them and manage them properly. For example, the Skee-Ball® trademark we represent has been registered since 1929! If you are building your brand now, make sure your mark and logo are available, unique, and enforceable through the USPTO. One of the keys to the value of your trademark, along with its enforcement is to develop it in such a way that it is clearly representative of the brand rather than a specific product.
Once you have developed your logo and other marks,
- Develop guidelines for the use of the logo along with any written mark or phrase.
- Include specific colors to be used and if you have a multi-color logo, create a single-color logo that can be used when applications do not allow for full color.
- Add the TM or R (if registered) symbol consistently to the logo or written mark across all products, marketing collateral, websites, etc.
After you have your protocols in place, communicate them broadly, internally as well as to any third parties that will be involved with your brand. Set up and execute a process for ensuring proper use.
Creating great plans, strategies, and protocols is good business, execution of them is great business.
Once you have built a strong and loyal customer base you can expand your trademark into new categories through brand extensions and licensing which will help you protect your trademark while increasing its value.
Perhaps the most challenging, frustrating, and important ongoing work is protecting your trademark from infringement. The use of your mark without authority can cause consumer confusion and hurt the brand you have built. The good news is that there are a few different ways to manage this protection. You can have staff monitor the internet for infringers, as most items being sold at retail are also online. You can hire a licensing agency to provide this service if you do not have the internal resources. Or you can use a software program, such as Red Points, that will scour the web for infringers. Keep in mind, that many infringers violate your mark by simply using it for SEO purposes. Do not let others capitalize on your asset. Include managing infringement as an ongoing part of your brand strategy.
Remember, your brand and all of its associated marks are an asset. Treating it as such and nurturing it by following each of these steps will help build its value and ensure that it never becomes generic. Have a consistent plan and execute it well.