Tag Archives: business name

Promoting Your Brand

Promoting Your Brand

Promoting Your BrandIn my blog Should you Develop Your Personal Brand? I argued that it is indeed very important to do so, and that it’s not enough to just focus on building the business brand.

The world has changed, and nowadays the personal brand must be part and parcel of the promotional mix. Even if it’s your intention to one day sell your business it’s a mistake to put all your efforts into simply promoting your business or product brand names.

People usually associate brands with companies and products. Consider household name brands like Apple. They have products which include the iPhone, and Mac computers among others, or Microsoft the company has its products OneDrive, Outlook, Word, Excel and more. It’s easy to assume that the focus should be purely on getting name recognition for the company and product brands.

However, both these companies also have dominant personal brands associated with them: Steve Jobs (now replaced with Tim Cook) and Bill Gates (now supplemented by Satya Nadella).

Building a Business Brand

While individuals come with their own personal styles and approaches, business brands have to be specifically created to have a personality and comprehensive messages. The business needs to stand for something and hold out a promise. Branding actively creates the business you want to be known for, and the perception you hope consumers will have when coming into contact with your company, product or service. A business or product brand is essentially comprised of names, logos, any icons, slogans, copy and other collateral.

Most businesses that don’t use the founder’s own name will have the company name to promote as well as one or more products. That is already quite challenging for a small business to deal with so adding the personal brand to the mix might seem a stretch too far.

Certainly, it is much simpler on all counts if you’re just using your personal name for everything. That’s probably why so many coaches and mentors out there do this. Names that come to mind as examples of this include Tony Robbins, Brendon Burchard, Jeff Walker, Marie Forleo and more. Indeed, it seems to be the norm in the personal development industry for thought leaders to be the brand.

There is undoubtedly a marketing efficiency these businesses have of using fewer brands or a singular brand. They have an advantage in brand building and customer communication because they just put all their branding and marketing efforts into promoting one name.

This means they get name recognition more rapidly. It’s like ploughing all your marketing efforts into a single domain. You’re much more likely to rank in the search engines if you are using a single domain name rather than spreading your budget across 2 or 3 domains.

However, unless your focus is on a speaking career, and selling digital courses as part of that, it might not work for you to use your own name as the business’ name despite the undoubted advantage in doing so.

In practice, most businesses will have several brands, and the personal brand will sit alongside them. Examples that come to mind, apart from Apple and Microsoft, include, Elon Musk and Tesla, Richard Branson and Virgin, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook.

When you have 3 or more brand names, it can nevertheless be quite powerful because it’s possible that one brand will resonate more with someone than the others and they will therefore remember it.

For example, some people may not have a clue who Shireen Smith is, but they have heard of Azrights, or vice versa. Similarly, if people hear the podcast or come across the Brand Tuned branding product, they may not be aware that Brand Tuned is a product that belongs to Azrights.

As Chrissie Lightfoot discussed in the recent podcast interview over on Brand Tuned, having three brands, your company, product or book title and you the person, provides a powerful triage of brands for people to come across.

How 3 or More Brands Can Prove Powerful

Many corporates or blue-chip companies will probably feature in the news or other publications. Other corporates seeing their names in publications might recognise that the company has a strong brand that is known for a specific product or service. Or it may be that your business brand comes up prominently in the search results for specific products and services and carries weight searchers looking for a business to consult.

Most members of the public won’t have a clue about the companies that are written about or that appear in the search engines, because they may not be reading those publications or media or searching for a particular solution. They may not really care about a company brand. But they will have seen some person from that company online on LinkedIn, or wherever they hang out, and they’ve got to know the person.

So there’s a strong personal brand there because there’s a personal presence. Or, some people might have had a third party recommendation when they’re playing on Facebook one day, and seeing somebody recommend a book that they’re reading, such as Legally Branded, and won’t have heard of Azrights the company, but they’ll have remembered the name of the book. So, when you say, have you heard of such and such company, they’ll say no, I haven’t got a clue, what’s Azrights? If you say well, have you heard of Legally Branded, they will say, oh yes. Legally Branded.

These different ways in which people can come across your brand mean that you might be recommended or remembered in a variety of different ways.

Failing to use your personal brand is a mistake because it is a useful way to promote the business brand.

The Need to Be Strategic With Resources

However, it is undoubtedly a mammoth task to try to promote 3 or more brands on social media platforms, and with their own websites. So, you need to be very strategic to use your resources to best effect.

Through my own experience of working this out, I believe that on platforms such as LinkedIn where people are essentially looking to connect with others, rather than with companies, it makes sense to focus on your personal brand. Indeed, on most of the social media platforms people will be wanting to follow other people, rather than logos, so you could just maintain a minor presence for your business or product brands on social media, and put your efforts into promoting your own personal profile instead.

As long as you own the social media handles for your business name and products, you don’t necessarily need to post a lot of content on them. The handles will be available to be used by anyone who may buy the business or product down the line.

Whether you should have a personal, business and product Facebook page, or a YouTube channel for all of these and websites is something you will need to think through as part of your strategy. I’ve certainly made the mistake of having YouTube channels for both my business and personally, and it’s simply too difficult to try to keep both updated. However, now that I have them, they stay, but it’s not necessarily how I would have dealt with it strategically, based on my aspirations for the business.

Once your business has a few people working within it, then the people in your team are all personal brands that have the potential to increase awareness of your business and product brands.

You will therefore have increased ways to be discovered and approached. So, don’t overlook the personal brands of yourself and your team members when you are planning how to promote your brand.

trademarks

Trade Names or Business Names as Trademarks

trademarksQuin & Donnelly was a well-known and successful fashion design partnership in Ireland which was founded more than 30 years ago when the pair were fashion students.

Their collections had been sold for more than 15 years by retailers including Brown Thomas and House of Fraser when a dispute concerning their brand name Quin & Donnelly brought about the death of the brand.  As the Times reported in 2014 Fashion duo’s fight ends in brand death.

The reason for mentioning the case is to emphasise the importance of registering a trade mark to protect the brand value in your name and the brand equity you generate. There are so many ways in which failing to take basic steps concerning trademarks can cause problems for a business and this is just one example. 

The designers had registered their name as a business name (on the register of Business Names, which has now been abolished). However, they had not registered it as a trademark. They only applied to register it as a trademark in 2009.  

However, their Irish manufacturer, Sonole Designs objected claiming rights in the mark, and the ruling, published by the Irish Patents Office in 2014indicates that the duo were refused permission for the exclusive use of the trademark following a dispute between them and the manufacturer of their clothes.

The Patents Office, which rules on trademark conflicts, found that a trademark application by Donnelly and Quin in 2009 made without the knowledge of the clothes’ manufacturer would amount to “passing off” [common law tort used to enforce unregistered trade marks] if it were granted.

Apparently, all goods sold under the Quin and Donnelly brand since 2002 were made by Sonole and the Donegal company had invested significant funds to help to expand the business and generate new customers. By doing so, it had “earned rights” in the business’s good name.

Quinn and Donnelly had worked with this manufacturer for eight years. 

Distinction between trademarks and business names

At this point, it is worth considering the distinction between trademarks and business names briefly. 

trademark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by a business to identify its products or services to consumers.  It is a sign informing consumers that goods or services originate from a particular source, so they are able to distinguish it from similar products or services in the market.

business name is the name under which a business trades.  So, if you are a sole trader or have a registered company name you could choose to be known as something else. For many businesses the trading name will be the same as their registered company name and will also act as their trademark. It all depends on how the names are used in practice.

To be able to function as a trademark a name must meet certain criteria, such as to not simply describe the products or services of the business.  If a trade name is used as a designation of origin to inform consumers where a product or service is coming from, then it is being used as a trademark.

This seemed to be the case with the fashion designers in the dispute. However, as happens all too often in practice, the designers were under the impression that their registered business name was sufficient.  They had not realised they needed to register it as a trademark.

In such cases, the best advice is to register the trademark as soon as trading begins. If Quin & Donnelly had done so, they may have had a different dispute with their manufacturer, but not one that would have spelt the death of their successful brand possibly.

Trademark Search Essentials

Trademark Search – Minimizing The Dangers Of Having Similar Names To Your Competitors

Trademark Search EssentialsTrademark search is designed to help minimize the dangers of choosing names for your business, brand, product, or service, which are similar to those of your competitors and which might land you in an expensive intellectual property conflict.

For this very reason, we were surprised to hear, then, that LG electronics, the South Korean technology giant, has filed a number of trademarks disputes which included the ‘EDGE’ moniker, more commonly associate with Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone and tablet product range. The ‘EDGE’ element, originally coined by Samsung for Galaxy Note Edge device which has a curvature on the side of the display, was later exported to the Galaxy S6 Edge and, now, to the S6 Edge +. In a bold move, LG has stepped into the ring with trademark applications for: Super Edge, Dual Edge, Upper Edge, Dual Side Edge, Side Edge, Double Edge, Two Edge, G Edge. According to G Edge filing which you can find here, it is apparent that the name is intended to be used for smartphones.

What’s The Play?

One can only speculate as to what LG’s legal team was thinking. An article on TECHTIMES.com has noted that aside from the trolling Samsung theory, perhaps this is LG’s way of saying how it too wants to join the curved display market for smartphones and tablets. A notoriously competitive industry, the smartphone market has been fraught with ‘wars’ between Apple and Samsung, and Motorola and Microsoft. We previously wrote about how the Xbox 360 was close to being banned in America in a patent battle with Motorola in our article – Motorola, Microsoft patent war rages on.

It could be that LG’s move might trigger another intellectual property war; this time for dominance in the curved edge displays market between LG and Samsung.

Similar Names

When it comes to trademarks, even a name which is different but similar enough to a prior trademark can result in litigation. Bigger companies with a reputation are more likely to litigate aggressively as a name and its associated reputation tend to be the differentiating factor in highly homogeneous markets, such as the smartphone market.

It is easy to see how a name of a product or service is highly relevant. The old adage ‘a death by a thousand cuts’ rings true for products and services with a distinctive name and renowned name. Should a name be used for a variety of goods and services, the distinctive sparkle fades and the market position soon starts to evaporate.

See our article on Naming Strategies – Google’s New Brand Strategy for more highly distinctive names that run the risk on becoming generic from being overused.

Trademark Search Essentials

When choosing names, it is important that you avoid names similar to your competitors. This is primarily to ensure, as much as possible, that the name you have chosen is distinctive and readily associable with your brand, product or service and your business values, and not those of your competitors.

A trademark search will help you ascertain which names you can and cannot choose. Further, a trademark search on the registers of each relevant target market will clear the options available to you and the best relevant strategy to employ to your market position and that of your competition.

Having said that, LG’s aggressive play presents a different strategy altogether, and one which tends to be permissible only to those with deep pockets. Applying for names similar to competitors will most likely prompt litigation. If you have the resources to fight it out with expensive lawyers, it can be a risk that you will take. Nevertheless, litigation can only go one of two ways.

First, is that you lose the opposition and you start from scratch with a new and different name. For a lot of companies, a re-brand can be as fatal as the rate of consumer consumption far surpassing brand loyalty (just think of Apple who has resorted to clever ways to lock you in with their entire product range). For a ‘Small And Midsize Enterprise’ (SME), this can be dangerous play.

For a company like LG Electronics, however, it can be a mere way of publicizing a challenge which can put them in the spotlight as a newcomer and will undoubtedly disrupt Samsung with legal costs (as Apple did in 2012 when the Court ordered Samsung to pay Apple an eye watering $1Billion in damages). In the event that they become successful in registering the ‘EDGE’ moniker, it will have the wider effect of knocking Samsung down one more peg and steal its curvy display thunder with something which is newer and potentially more innovative.

If you are thinking about starting a new company or launching a product or service and need a new name, here at Azrights we can do international trademark searches and provide you with an opinion on how to avoid getting caught in an expensive trademark battle. See our trademark search page for more details on how we can help.