How can I ensure my brand is both marketable and legal?

A strong brand is one of your best assets in the business world because it’s your name, it’s what people know you as, it’s what people recognise when they see you on the streets or in the supermarket or wherever your products or services are being sold.

So, it’s really important to make sure first of all people are going to recognise your brand but also that you have legal protection for it. What we see quite regularly in the industry is people have come up with these fantastic new trade marks or brands, they are really excited about them but they haven’t stopped and checked whether or not someone has prior legal rights and the last thing you want is to have spent tens of thousands of dollars developing a brand and then you get a letter from a lawyer saying ‘that’s ours, you can’t use it’.

Something to bare in mind is that graphic designers and people who create brands do fantastic jobs but they are not approaching it from the legal perspective, that’s not their job, and what makes really good brand to market doesn’t necessarily make a good brand legally. For example, a really marketable brand might be something that fully describes what you do. Legally, in terms of enforcing that, that’s really difficult because how can you tell someone not to use a word that describes their product. 

So what should I do?

Well the first step we would always say is come and talk to your lawyers. But before you get there, there are a number of things you can do:

  • Talk with the person who is creating your new brand, find out what they are doing, are they trying to come up with a brand that describes what you do or are they trying to come up with something that is totally unique.
  • From there, have they looked at what’s actually in the market? Have they done any checking, not just is there something identical already out there, but is there something that’s similar that someone might confuse with your new brand?

From a legal perspective, the best brands are completely invented words. I’m sure you can all think of the brands out there that, you’d never heard those words before you came across them. But a lot of people don’t want an invented word, they want their brand to reflect what they do. So, if you’re going to do that, a couple of ideas, don’t use a descriptive term, go for something that alludes to your brand or your products rather. Something for instance, if you have a clothing brand that is for t-shirts, don’t call it ‘Polypropylene’, call it ‘Polyfun’ and just come up with something that takes it a little bit away from the description.

If you need plain English advice on trade marks and branding, get in touch with one of our experts.