Best Practice: 10 ways to protect a brand: from delivering on your promise, trademark, copyright, non-compete agreement to brand management.
Today’s Article: 10 Ways to Protect a Business Brand in 2016
Your brand is one of your most valuable business assets. Once the brand is established it is important to protect it. A business has ten ways to protect its brand: deliver on the brand promise, legal structure, trademark, servicemark, copyright, patent, trade secrets, non-compete agreement, social media policy and brand reputation management.
1. Deliver on the Promise The best way to protect the business brand, is to educate all employees on the brand and what you are promising to customers. Consistently deliver on the promise and when making all business decisions make sure it strengthens the brand.
2. Legal Structure When a company is registered in a state as a Limited Liability Company, Cooperative, Corporation, Partnership or a non-profit, the company name is protected in that state. Generally, if the business is started as a Sole Proprietorship, the name is not protected in the state.
Note: Legal structure does not protect the company name outside the state or at the federal level. The only thing that protects the name at the federal level is a trademark or servicemark.
3. Trademark According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), “a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.” A trademark protects the name on a national level.
4. Servicemark According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), ” a service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.” A servicemark protects a service name on a national level.
5. Copyright According to the United States Copyright Office, “a copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. ” On your marketing materials: website, brochure, rack card, etc. protect your content by using the © symbol, the year of first publication of the copyrighted work and identification of the owner of the copyright. Example: © 2014 Brand Door company, all rights reserved.
6. Patent According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), “A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.” When the business brand is tied to inventions and created technology, protect your intellectual property with a patent.
7. Trade Secrets Every business has confidential information to protect. A trade secret can be customer information, process, formula, recipe, pattern, physical device, or an idea that provides the business with a competitive advantage. Nondisclosure agreement is one of the best ways to protect trade secrets.
Nondisclosure agreement (NDA) is a contract in which the employees or parties promise to protect the confidentiality of secret information that is disclosed during employment or another type of business transaction. By using a nondisclosure agreement, the business can better ensure that your secrets stay secret or the business has the legal recourse if they are misused or disclosed to the wrong parties.
8. Non-Compete Agreement Your brand is one of your most valuable business assets. It distinguishes your company or product in the marketplace. When hiring and training employees in your company and brand, it is important to set an expectation that if they leave the company in the future that they cannot immediately open a similar business.
9. Social Media Policy and Training Social media can help a company grow and it can also damage the business brand. The best way to protect the business brand is to have a social media policy that clearly outlines expectations about using social media, particularly when referring to the company on social media sites. With this policy, provide social media training to cover the policy and have each employee sign that they have attended the training.
10. Brand Reputation Management During the brand implementation phase, monitor the brand and how people are connecting with the brand. With websites and social media, regularly check them to make sure they are accurate and how people are responding to them such as reviews. When there is a poor review or complaint, have a strategy to promptly respond to it. Also, make it easy for customers to provide feedback to the business. Can be as simple as a phone number and email address for customer feedback.
Action Step: Review all 10 options above to protect your brand and implement those that are right for your business. List those options that can protect your brand.
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