A brand is simply the perception of all touchpoints of a product, service, or business. Good branding can help in drawing a startup’s first customers. Besides, it is essential for attracting investors.
For this purpose, it is important to be acquainted with the steps needed to build a startup’s brand (A) and dive into the ways of protecting it (B).
- How to build your brand
1- Target audience
Setting time for testing, researching and experimenting are very important to identify your target audience. Choosing a target audience is major. It enables the startup to direct its resources to those customers, with high potential for sales growth, interest in the product, and loyalty to the brand. And to do so, you need to
Your target audience can change and evolve throughout the years.
2-Define your brand
Building a brand from scratch is of great significance to give it a specific identity, differentiate it from others, and make it stand out. At this stage, the startup should have a keen knowledge of its product or service. It should answer fundamental questions such as why should customers buy the product and what differentiates it from other products. After all, defining the emotional reason why customers should connect with your brand is the key.
3- Choose the name of your brand.
The name should be around the startup and its mission.
It is essential to conduct thorough research to ensure that the chosen name is available, prevent any likelihood of confusion between brands. This confusion arises when two brands are similar and are used for similar products or services. The research also helps in avoiding any trademark issues that will be elaborated on in the future.
4- Design your logo, build a slogan
Once you have chosen the right name for your brand, you should invest in a logo that has the power to stick and signify the brand. You should think about how your brand is visually represented, namely your colors and typography.
Having a slogan is important since it is considered to cut through the clutter and to create a memorable image in the customers’ minds. For instance, when you hear or read the phrase “just do it,” Nike is the first thing that occurs in a person’s mind. You will want to have that for your brand.
- How to legally protect your brand
When building a brand, it is critical to secure intellectual property rights. These IP protections can include trademarks, copyrights, and patents. It is important to determine which protections are relevant to your brand/company.
1- Trademark your brand
One of the best ways to protect your brand is by trademarking your brand name, logo, designs, slogans, and any words associated with your brand.
To trademark your brand, it is essential to spend time researching to determine whether a brand is available to avoid registration and the rise of a dispute or a legal action.
Trademarking your brand will give you legal ownership. It will give you verifiable proof that you are the original owner of the trademarked products/services. Therefore, you will have ground to stand on if the issue is brought to court.
Trademarks also protect consumers. Since trademarked companies will always want to maintain a good reputation, they will work harder to provide quality products/services. So basically, trademarks protect both companies and consumers.
It is important to mention that trademarks don’t expire as long as they are being used, and trademarking your brand is not legally required. But looking at the perks of registering a trademark, it is highly advisable to trademark your brand at the earliest possible to benefit from the several advantages it has to offer.
2- Copyright protection
The trademark covers the protection of your brands’ name, logo, and designs, etc. Still, it will not cover the protection of the written material connected to your brand. For this reason, copyright protection is indispensable.
The copyright holder has a right to use the copyrighted work. All others must seek permission from the owner to use a copyrighted work.
Even if copyright protection is automatic from the moment your work is created, the protection is limited. This is why it is highly recommended to register your work for copyright protection to be able to benefit from the full range of protection.
For instance, if a dispute arises about using copyrighted material, the registration becomes an important legal consideration.
Some of the conferred benefits of copyright are economic and moral rights, selling and licensing and refusing any modification to your work, filing a lawsuit in case of getting your work violated, and therefore specifying monetary penalties.
A patent is important because it can help safeguard your invention. It is a right granted to exclude others from making, using, or selling your invention.
Patents must be registered. If you invent something and fail to register it, another person who independently invents or discovers your invention can patent it. To receive a patent, an invention has to meet three criteria:
- Usefulness: what you are patenting has to serve a purpose or improve upon something already useful.
- Novelty: the invention cannot be known or described in writing anywhere else before your application.
- Non-obviousness: what you are patenting has to be significantly different from existing items.
It is worth mentioning that patents expire. In most patent laws nowadays, the term of the patent is 20 years from the filing date of the application. After expiration, they must be re-registered.
From a legal standpoint, it’s important to protect your business and your intellectual property in writing. One way to achieve this is by including an intellectual property clause in your terms and conditions. For example, you state that all intellectual property, including but not limited to copyrighted material and trademarks, is owned by the company and that it has proprietary rights to that material.