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Do’s and Don’ts: Branding your Business, Branding Yourself

Branding

“Branding Your Business, Branding Yourself”

The first thing you notice when you are in an unfamiliar town are the places you have seen a million times: the McDonalds or the neighborhood Wal-mart. These companies have established a brand for their business. A brand that sells their products and the brand helps you distinguish their products or prices from their competition.

If you haven’t figured out where I am going with this article… I’m talking about TRADEMARKS. You are a business, you are a product. Look at artists such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and P. Diddy who have the ability to attach their name or face to any product and sell it. This is why it is important to develop a great name, a unique name, for you, your band, your business or your product. A great name and logo will help identify you, setting you a part from the rest.

A registered Trademark gives you certain benefits like the exclusive ownerships rights of the mark, you also have the right to control the use of your name, you have the right to tell someone to stop using your name or mark, and the right to license the use of your name or mark in the manner that suits you. Federal trademarks give you nationwide priority and a broader geographical area for protection than do state trademarks. If you are only registered in Tennessee, you can only enforce here. If you plan to expand your business or be a national known celebrity think about the benefits of federal trademarks as you expand from one state to several.

Trademarks add value to your business and allow you to make more money. If someone wants to use it on their product, banner, sign etc. you can name a price or even sell it. The ®, registered trademark symbol, puts people on notice that this mark is registered and it deters others from ripping you off. And if it does not deter them from doing so, you can sue them. It also shows some since of pride in your business because you took the necessary steps to build a solid foundation.

Once your trademark is registered you can own it indefinitely, but you must continue to use it as well as satisfy the renewal obligation every ten years. If you fail to do so, another party may request that your mark be deregistered after some time. Since you are the owner of your mark, you can tell other to ‘cease and desist’ from using your mark, name, and./or slogan. Famous handbag brands like Louis Vuitton and Coach have the power to stop all of the many infringers and flea market sellers of their products for this very reason. Not only are the knock-offs profiting based off of their goodwill and image, but also taking the money from the companies who have paid millions to make their names what it is.

Musicians can brand themselves now by having printed business cards, signs, t-shirts, websites that have their logos, and other freebies with your logos and band name. The idea is to keep your name and logo in the spotlight so that it becomes recognizable to everyone.

Of course there is a ton more to know, but this sample should get you thinking about your brand.

For more information about federal trademarks visit: www.uspto.org

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Written by: LaQuita R. Stokes, Attorney at Law

LEGAL DISCLAIMER:
The articles, opinions and views provided in this column are not intended as legal or financial advice: legal information is not legal advice. All information in this column is for educational and informational purposes only. Features are authored by licensed attorneys. Articles and content contained herein are not to be used as a substitute for professional legal services. As laws, details and personal situations vary from person to person and state to state, articles and content contained herein are not and cannot to be used as a substitute for legal, career or financial advice. We make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in this column. The writers of this column and this website will not be liable or responsible to you for any claim, loss, injury, liability, or damages related to your use of this information.

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