Protecting Your Most Valuable Asset
How much is your brand worth? 8.96 billion is the estimated brand value of Woolworths, the most valuable brand in Australia. The brand and name Telstra has an estimated value of 8.7 billion and the name Commonwealth Bank of Australia is valued at 7.5 billion.1 While ascribing a monetary value to a brand is a complicated exercise, what is clear, is that for a lot of businesses, the brand is the most valuable asset a company or business will ever own.
Your brand name simply and instantly communicates your business values to your customer. When a customer sees your name or trade mark, he or she instantly recognises and recalls certain qualities about your product or service and is more likely to by-pass your competitors to purchase your product or service, possibly even at a higher price.
Your brand name assures customers that the product or service originates from your business and therefore has a certain level of quality or performance.
Your brand name is a symbolic repository for the pull factor that is your business reputation and goodwill. Each time you use your trade mark you are effectively drawing upon your business’ positive reputation in having a desirable product or service.
What can you do to protect your brand/name?
Register your brand name as a trade mark
The best way to protect your brand name is to seek registration as a trade mark. The Trade Marks Act 1995 provides for registration of not only word marks, but for every aspect of your brand, from logos to colours to shapes and aspects of packaging. Unfortunately, many business owners have the mistaken view that a business name registration provides them with exclusive rights to that name; only a trade mark registration provides you with a statutory exclusive right to the use of that mark for the goods or services for which it is registered, and the ability to enforce rights in that mark against infringers.
Use your brand name correctly
Be sure to use your brand in a way that ensures it distinguishes your goods and services from those of your competitors. For example, use it as an adjective and in a way which sets it apart from surrounding text. If the brand is registered as a trade mark, use the ® to indicate its status. If it is not registered, the letters TM can be used to indicate that it nevertheless operates as a trade mark.
Monitor the marketplace for infringement or misuse of your brand. Failure to take action against infringers may result in a weakening of your rights and in competitors effectively cashing in on the strength of your brand.
Your business brand name is extremely valuable. Successful businesses appreciate the value of their brand names and go to great lengths to protect them. Protecting your brand name by way of trade mark registration, using the mark or name correctly and policing the marketplace are the keys to building successful and enduring brand value.
- BrandFinance’s annual report on the world’s most valuable brands, February 2015, accessed at http://www.brandfinance.com/images/upload/brand_finance_global_500_2015.pdf