Bulletproof Your Business’s Brand
Make your brand impenetrable with these strategies.
Your brand is the essence of what you do and how you do it. It’s how you are perceived as a company, what you deliver, and your logo and visual brand elements, the uniqueness of your products and services and your reputation – all rolled into one. With so many things at stake, how do you protect your brand?
In 2018, the owners of internet sensation Grumpy Cat® took on a huge beverage company claiming that it used Grumpy Cat’s name without permission – and because they had filed trademarks on Grumpy Cat, they won $700,000 in court. Begin with filing basic legal protections for trademarks, patents and copyrights and consult an attorney who specializes in your industry. Set up Google alerts to make sure your brand name or product isn’t being used by someone else. But besides these basic brand building blocks, there’s so much more to protecting one of your most valuable assets.
Live your brand
Once you’ve covered your brand basics, look at some of the more intangible brand protections you can create. It all starts with building something worth protecting, something you are proud of. With all the time and care you put into building your business, make sure to live your brand personally. Your brand and mission should be reflected in person, online and in the way you interact with your community as a business. Present yourself at the office with professionalism and respect for others. Make interactions with customers and vendors fun and engaging. Personifying your brand wherever you go and with whomever you meet can go a long way toward ensuring your brand aligns with your own values and ethics as well as your customers’.
Social media is the modern day word of mouth – it can sink or lift your business. Create a handbook of expectations for employees online and in real life. Offer pointers and even copy examples of how you want them to mention your company online and in social media channels. Employees spreading goodwill is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal.
Suppliers don’t deliver on time, shipping gets delayed, there are thousands of ways things can go wrong in your business and customers may not get what they ordered or expected. When KFC UK ran out of chicken, they won the social media day by creating memes about how slow their chickens were to cross the road – and set up a website to find out where the chickens were. Take a cue from KFC and offer specific, complete and detailed apologies to anyone who is inconvenienced – and turn the snafu into an opportunity to connect and demonstrate your values.
When it comes to bulletproofing your brand, here are some basic steps you can start with:
- Make sure all your brand assets are protected with basic trademark, copyright and patent protections.
- If you don’t already have a legal resource to help protect your brand, ask your financial advisor who’s likely worked with specialized attorneys over the years.
- Create a handbook of expectations for employees. Give guidance on how to talk about your company that reflects your brand values.
Sources: USTPO; Yahoo Small Business; U.S. Copyright Office; Forbes; Business2Community; Entrepreneur; Small Business Trends; JC Social Media
Raymond James is not affiliated with any other entity listed herein.