We know it takes creative sweat and artistic magic to generate unique branding that stands out in a crowded marketplace—because it’s part of what we do! The last thing we want is for our client’s brand identity to be snatched up by a competitor. To ensure that doesn’t happen, we encourage our clients to let us trademark these important brand identifiers. Today we’re covering why brand trademark protection is important, its benefits, the drawbacks of not trademarking, and the most common questions we get asked regarding this smart measure. 

What’s in a Name?

As humans, we give a lot of power to identity. In every culture, surnames were derived from distinctive identifiers of our origin. We rode into battle with crests emblazoned with symbols of heritage, tattooed our skin with maps so our ancestors could always find us, and displayed tapestries that told the story of all we had been and would be.  

These things were important because they were our legacies and no one else’s. So while you don’t have to give the same weight to your brand name, logo, and tagline, you do need to protect them legally and commercially because, like surnames and ancient ancestral relics, they’re more than letters and pictures—they’re your business’s identity. And without trademark protection, they’re up for grabs. 

So, what exactly is a trademark? According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, “A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or combination of these things that identify your goods or services. It’s how customers recognize you in the marketplace and differentiate you from your competitors.” Before we cover the process, let’s dive into why registering a trademark is beneficial.

Building Value With Trademark Protection

When Tom Hank’s character in You’ve Got Mail tells Meg Ryan’s character, Kathleen, that putting her independent bookstore out of business wasn’t personal, just business, she retorts, “…All that means is that it wasn’t personal to you…Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.” This is especially true of building a brand identity. It should start with a personal truth and expand until all facets of branding signify how that truth fulfills a need. Then, as with anything personal, you safeguard it. In business, that’s done through trademarking, which preserves your brand’s integrity, deepens its influence, and grows its value.

Legal Protection

Registering your trademarks—whether for your brand name, logo, slogan, product names, or other identifiers—not only legally protects them from being used or imitated by other companies but also protects you from being sued for infringement. That’s why, as soon as you’ve settled on branding, you must ensure they’re not already trademarked. Of course, you can quickly search on the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), but even that isn’t foolproof. We typically take care of this step for our clients, but working with an intellectual property attorney is another option.

Commercial Clout

But security isn’t the only benefit. Trademarking distinguishes you in a marketplace filled with other options. For example, what would the Nike swoosh symbol mean if everyone could use it? Not much! This illustrates the trickle-down effect that trademarking has. When you have exclusive rights to distinctive brand attributes, it drives brand recognition and consumer trust. That familiarity turns your trademark into an asset that appreciates over time. As your business grows, so does its value and commercial clout, making it more attractive to investors, potential buyers, and partners. 

Market Expansion

Brand trust and familiarity can evolve into consumer loyalty. Once your trademark has established a solid reputation in the marketplace, you leverage it to expand into similar industries without sacrificing branding consistency. It also opens up the possibility of licensing or franchising your trademark so that others can use it, creating a new revenue stream for your company without operating costs.

What’s at Stake Without Trademark Protection

Without a trademark, all the benefits we’ve explored are at stake, and you’ll have limited legal recourse to fight competitor infringements. But, most importantly, it dilutes the value of your brand and causes consumer confusion; this can be especially damaging in a digital marketplace. 

For example, say you have an online boutique called Cut that sells high-end designer clothing for women. You’ve spent a lot of money on branding and getting your name out there to attract customers who can afford your merchandise. Your marketing strategy works, and word spreads so fashionable people are Googling your business. But, unbeknownst to you, there’s another online store called Cut Online that also sells clothing—but it’s outdated and cheaply made.

Potential customers will either assume they’ve found the correct boutique and you’ve misrepresented the inventory, or they’ll realize they have the wrong website. The former harms your brand reputation, and the latter will likely end in them abandoning their search to spend money on more recognizable sites. 

Fortunately, Savy can help you avoid this trap and more by guiding you through the trademarking journey, as we’ve done for so many of our clients.

Is Trademarking Right for Your Brand? 

At Savy, we customize our approach for each client. Depending on the circumstances, it’s not always necessary to pursue trademarking. However, if your business offers national or international products or services (or wants to eventually), then it’s a smart move. 

Another instance would be a local business changing its name as part of a rebrand. In this situation, trademarks will help them define themselves online, where new businesses pop up daily and result in infringements. Here are the most common questions clients ask us about 

Can Savy Register a Trademark for Me and How Long Does it Take? 

 Registering trademarks is something we often do for our clients. We either work with a company’s in-house legal counsel or our attorney on our client’s behalf. If you’re confused about which branding elements you should trademark, we can make recommendations based on our years of experience and industry expertise. The process typically takes about a year before the registration is official.

Should I Use a Service Like LegalZoom or Trademarkia?

You absolutely can, but be prepared to be handed off to a different (usually inexperienced) legal representative each time. You can also expect constant spam from these providers. It may seem like a good way to save money, but you’ll likely spend the same amount you would with trusted legal counsel. Think of trademarking costs not only as an investment in your business and its future growth but also as an insurance policy that protects your hard work from being diminished. 

Let Savy Help Your Brand Navigate Trademark Protection

Your brand is your legacy and a crest representing your personal values. Savy has helped companies conceive and trademark brand identities for over fifteen years so they are protected as they thrive and grow. Contact us so we can do the same for you and create a legacy that lasts.