Last month we celebrated our rebrand’s first birthday and took the opportunity to reflect on all that was in 2020 (in case you missed it, you can read our post here Emerging from groundhog hibernation | Solubility). We hope that 2021 offers a less bumpy ride ahead.
But back to rebranding – it can be fraught, as mining giant Adani recently discovered, selecting “Bravus” as its new name to reflect “courageous intent”, but with others claiming it as a Latin word that means “crooked”, “deformed”, “mercenary or assassin”.
Fortunately we were guided on our rebranding journey by the amazing team led by Vanessa Ryan, Brand & Communication Specialist, Founder & Chief Creative Director, SML Design. We ask her a few questions below and Louise Brunero from Solubility also shares some top tips for businesses selecting a brand or undertaking a rebrand.
Solubility Tip 1 – Registration of a business name does not give the owner exclusive rights to it
A business name is the name you trade under. It identifies you to your customers and other businesses. If you are trading under a name that is not the name of your company or your own personal name (eg “Louise Brunero Pty Ltd”) you must register a business name. While you cannot register a business name that is identical to the registered name of another Australian business or company, you should always check to see if your desired name has been trade marked. You can do this using IP Australia’s free online search facility, Australian Trade Mark Search. It is also important to note that registering a business name does not stop someone who has registered the name as a trade mark from using it. Conversely, if someone has registered the name of your business as a trade mark, they may be able to stop you from trading under your registered business name. Extra tip – if you wish to use an abridged form of your company name (eg dropping the “Pty Ltd”), you need to register that abridged form as a business name.
Solubility Tip 2 – Secure a trade mark for your brand
A trade mark is a form of brand protection which distinguishes between your products or services and those belonging to your competitors. A trade mark is not just ‘a logo’. It can be a name, word, logo, shape (think Toblerone chocolate’s unique 3D triangular shape), colour, aspect of packaging, scent, or combination of these which distinguish goods or services of one person from those of another. The most important quality of a trade mark is its distinctiveness. While trade marks which are descriptive of the goods and services are often attractive to brand owners as they immediately tell customers something about the product (ie what it is made of or how it tastes or works), they are generally not eligible for registration. The strongest trade mark protection will come from marks which are invented or have no connection to the service or product. Also, a unique mark will not only be registerable, but less likely to infringe the rights of third parties.
Solubility Tip 3 – Trade marks are registered with respect to particular classes of goods and services and countries
The Australian Trade Marks Register is divided into 45 classes of goods and services and your mark can be registered in one or more categories. While it may seem logical to apply in every class to ‘cover the field’, registering in multiple classes increases the likelihood of conflict with other marks on the trade mark register, marks can be removed for non-use (see our Tip 4 below) and fees are calculated per class. In short, registering in multiple classes that may not be used can be an expensive exercise.
An Australian trade mark only provides protection within Australia. You should consider registering your mark in any countries where you offer your goods or services under that mark, and in those countries where you intend to use the mark for your goods or services in the future. In most countries use of a mark is not a prerequisite for filing an application. However, some countries do have use requirements. Further information about how a trade mark owner can seek trade mark protection overseas can be found here.
Solubility Tip 4 – Secured your trade mark? Then use it or lose it…
Having secured a trade mark for your brand, you must actively use your trade mark in the course of trade. If you don’t, after a certain time any person may apply for removal of your trade mark from the trade mark register due to its non-use. This is to discourage traders from registering multiple trade marks simply to stop others from using them.
Solubility Tip 5 – Using TM and the ® symbol
The ™ symbol can be used alongside an unregistered trade mark. It lets others know that you’re using that word, logo, image, sound, number or scent as a trade mark. Through prolonged use it may develop rights that can be exercised to stop others from using it – eg the famous “golden arches”.
The ® symbol can be used alongside a trade mark that has been registered. It lets others know that you have exclusive rights to that mark. It is an offence to use the ® symbol for unregistered trade marks.
Solubility Tip 6 – Don’t forget copyright
Logos may be protected by copyright as artistic works. Unless there is an agreement to the contrary, copyright in a logo is generally owned by its creator. If you have an agency or graphic designer create a new business logo for you, be sure that your agreement with them includes an assignment of any copyright in the logo to you. By owning the copyright in your business logo it ensures that you are free to use the logo without the need to seek permission from the copyright owner, you can sue third parties who infringe the copyright (rather than having to rely on the designer to do so for you) and you can sell the copyright as an asset at a future time if you wish.
Meet Vanessa Ryan, Brand & Communication Specialist, Founder & Chief Creative Director, SML Design
‘Aligning the brand strategy and vision to create a brand identity that is standout and meaningful is always an exciting challenge and extremely rewarding‘ – Vanessa Ryan.
SML Design works with private sector, government and non-for-profit clients in Australia and the United States to create exceptional brands, campaigns and design solutions.
What are the most significant challenges in commercialising IP in your sector?
In creating Brands for our clients, the project may require naming. Securing a new business name and domain name that is memorable and sets you apart is the first challenge, the other is securing one that is available that you can own in your sector. You have to be prepared to go back to the drawing board. Similarly, with creating Brand marks, we do an initial search to make sure that it is unique and could be potentially trademarked if necessary. Another issue for any brand is that the internet being what it is, makes it so easy for anyone to take your identity and copy it. Astoundingly some people don’t have respect for others’ ideas and think it is okay… because it is on the internet.
Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result. – Oscar Wilde
What does “success” in your role look like?
Ultimately having creative freedom. I have been lucky in my career to have worked for some of the best designers and design consultancies in the world, to now having my own business for 11 years where I can do it my way.
Ch, ch, changes. – David Bowie
What has been the most significant change in your sector during your career?
Digital, digital, digital. Technology has completely changed the way we work from when I started out pre-computer. However, what hasn’t changed is that you always need that great brand idea.
Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here? – Alice (in Wonderland)
What advice would you give to someone seeking a role like yours, and what is the one thing you would do differently?
Strive for great ideas and be relentless in pursuing your passion. Always be open and curious, don’t stop. Soak up as much knowledge and experience as you can because we all learn new things every day. Be generous and think big. What would I do differently? As a young designer, I was going to live and work in Amsterdam. I really wish I had done it for a little bit. I went to New York instead, but I would like to have done both!
The important thing is the diversity available on the Web. – Tim Berners-Lee
Is diversity important for a successful company?
Diversity, especially for a creative business is critical. When we look at any project we look at it every which way we can. As designers we need to keep our eyes and minds open at all times for inspiration. The key to great Branding is creating a difference. Diversity in culture, experience, background and thinking only helps open up new possibilities for inspiration and ideas that are fresh and different. We thrive on this collaboration.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
Who has most inspired you and why? What leadership qualities do you share with that person and how do you use those qualities to motivate your team?
I have had the privilege of working for some of the best Design leaders in the world. They have each inspired me in different ways and I have honed my working process from an amalgamation of their styles. But the best were wonderful mentors – always kind, open, curious and generous with sharing ideas. I would like to think that underpins the way I motivate and inspire my team.
Elegance is not standing out, but being remembered. – Giorgio Armani
How do you distinguish yourself/your brand from your competitors?
We distinguish our brand the same way we would work on a client’s brand, by constantly working on it to remain standout, meaningful and loved. This is also our SML mantra. Brands should be built around a solid brand strategy to give them the breadth and the ability to live, adapt, and evolve as things change – look at what has happened this year – we all need to think differently about how to move forward in life and business as these challenges arise.
You can connect with Vanessa Ryan on LinkedIn and learn more about SML Design here or click here to get in touch with our team at Solubility. Also you can follow Solubility on LinkedIn and Solubility on twitter.
We look forward to seeing you again for some more Everyday IP.
Cover image: Sachin Uplaonkar on Unsplash