I had a client recently express interest in registering their trademark and asked for my opinion. I realized this was a great opportunity to talk about trademarks and registration in general.

A company’s brand is its public representation. It will be the first thing potential clients see and should represent the best your company has to offer. A trademark is one of the most important business assets you’ll ever own. So why wouldn’t you do everything possible to protect it?

A trademark, “TM”, is any word, phrase or symbol used to serve as an identifier for the sources or products you offer. When a design is created, it is automatically trademarked. A registered trademark, “R”, on the other hand, has been registered with the United States Patton Office. The “R” can only be used with registered trademarks and only by the owner or licensee. It also must only be used in the regions you possess a valid trademark registration.

It is the responsibility of the brand owner to ensure that the correct trademark symbol is used. To best protect your brand, always include the trademark symbol. The symbol is typically located on the right of the brand in superscript; however, this is not a requirement.

The process to register a trademark requires some special steps. You must perform a search of the federal trademark database for direct conflicts with your trademark. Digital designs must also be submitted to the USPTO for approval along with registration fees.

There are situations where a potential trademark may be denied. Typically the USPTO will deny a trademark if it too closely resembles another trademark or if it is too general. For example, several years back NBC wanted to register their channel “Sci-Fi” for a trademark; however, their request was deemed too general. NBC changed the branding to “SyFy” and was able to successfully register the trademark with the USPTO. This is why you typically find companies with “creative” spellings for their trademark.

The process to register a trademark is time-consuming and expensive. There is paperwork to be filed and there is no guarantee your trademark will be approved; however, the protection a registration provides can’t be understated. With a trademark, you have a legal ground to protect your brand; however, it will not stand up against a registered trademark.

In conclusion, after considering all of the above I generally recommend a standard trademark for clients that operate on a more local level; however, if your brand will operate on a national or international level, the protection registration offers is well worth the extra time and money required to register your trademark.

What is a brand

The dictionary defines it as “a kind or variety of something distinguished by some distinctive characteristic.” Put more simply a brand is everything that someone sees, hears, smells, touches, etc…

A brand is much more than a well-defined logo. Good branding increases its value and helps to find motivation and Direction. It represents people’s perception of the brand it represents, its advertising and Logo. All of this must work together in a cohesive manner in order to ensure a brands health and longevity.

You may be able to think of a strong brand but perhaps the customer service was not on par and caused the brand to fail. This stresses the importance of all elements of a brand.

Brand creates recognition

A strong brand is instantly recognizable. You don’t need to be told that the golden arches represent McDonald’s because this is an instantly recognizable brand. Likewise, there is no confusion between the brands of McDonald’s and Burger King even though they offer comparable services.

Branding creates trust

A strong professional brand creates credibility and is easier for people to trust. You would be less likely to believe in a brand that looks as though an amateur created it. This is human nature.

Branding create advertising

A good brand helps define the advertising market, likewise, demographics help to define the brand. If your advertising focuses is too narrow, you lose the ability to expand into new markets. In addition, to brad, a focus and you will fail to create a memorable impression in the minds of your audience.

Branding builds value

The value of a brand goes well beyond the physical assets it holds. A strong brand helps to pave the road for the future of the business.

Branding help inspire

People invested in the brand need to have a clear direction and when they understand your mission, they are likely to feel pride in your brand and what it represents.

Branding creates followers

Good branding will help create followers. Remember how a good brand creates recognition? If you have a brand you like but can’t remember what the brand is, you’re unable to share your experience with others. The most important and easiest way to grow your brand is word of mouth. Likewise, word of mouth can easily destroy a brand. Typically when someone has a positive impression of your brand they will share with a couple of their closest friends; however, a negative impression and they are likely to share with 10 or more people.

The most successful brands will be the ones that established themselves as leaders of their respective markets and will take all aspects of the brand seriously to build the strongest brand possible.