The Process of Branding and Trade Marking

18th Oct 2017

The Process of Branding and Trade Marking

At Storm12, we're often asked by clients - prospective and existing alike - to create new brands for them. It's a process we love as it allows us to flex our creative muscles. Sometimes it means going back to the drawing pad and starting again, sometimes it's an evolution project. Either works for us.

Brand development process


In order to achieve the results that we and the client are looking for, we undertake a strict, proven process to ensure in the first instance that:

  • All stakeholders are involved. You have to take the time to get the right working group together. If the right people aren't in the room, the results won't be right either. It's better to get all of the opinions out and onto the table at the outset than try to retrofit later on to keep Management happy.
  • Objectives are uncovered. What you think you want may not be what we think you want. What you thought you wanted before may not be what you want now.
  • Research is undertaken where necessary - creative without strategy is just art after all.
  • An accurate design brief is agreed. It sounds obvious, but this step is often missed - if the brief doesn't contain everything it needs to, and the client hasn't agreed it, there's always a risk that the end result will miss the mark.
  • Exciting and accurate concepts are produced and refined. That's why we're here.
  • The correct toolkit and brand guidelines are delivered to ensure consistent roll-out of the brand. Much overlooked, often ignored - why take the time to develop a brand only to have it devalued when third parties roll it out for you?


From there it's as simple as the following five steps.

  1. Workshop

    • Everyone in a room
    • Nobody leaves until we've cracked the objectives, the whys and wherefores
  2. Insight

    • We go away and research everything we need to know about the business, history, previous designs, colours, fonts, styles, what you like and what you don't
  3. Concepts

    • A range of ideas - after all, that's what you're paying for, right?
  4. Refine

    • Feedback
    • Refine
    • Agree
    • Done
  5. Roll out

    • Get that new brand out there and shout about it


So what makes up a brand?


Ask a Storm12 Senior Designer what you think is a relatively simple question and you would expect a relatively simple answer. What you actually get are the following eleven - yes eleven - elements.


"What makes up a brand?" Well,


1. Logo

A logo is quite often the most visibly recognisable part of your brand. With the right style and when used correctly, it can be the foundation of your identity.


2. Brand Mark

A fan's favourites and a great example is the Nike "swoosh". Obviously Nike have an amazing reputation and have put in a lot of hard work from developing their products to advertising and brand building but once you've built up some recognition you can start being really creative with your brand mark.


3. Colours

Another part of your identity are colours and the consistent use of them. You can have as few or as many as you like, so long as they are used in the same way each time. Colours are a great way to bring out sections of any marketing collateral to emphasise an important piece of information such as an unique selling point or a call to action. Take a website for example, when we're designing a page, we'll use colour to bring out a button to push a visitor in a chosen direction.


4. Typography

Typography or the use of different fonts is surprisingly important in building your brand. Using more than one font or more than one font weight (bold vs. regular for example) is a great way of creating an information hierarchy to help people navigate through the copy you've created. Headings in a really punchy impact style font and used in the same way will help people recognise that it's your company material they're looking at.


5. Photography

Best example - Marks & Spencer. Doesn't your tummy rumble when you see those beautiful foodie pictures? And you know it's Marks when you see those adverts, you don't even need to see the logo.


6. Iconography

Very similar to photography, used in the right way it can work like the Marks & Spencer photography. Most of the time icons are used as supportive imagery to bring out services or benefits and are great for creating service specific campaigns.


7. Personality

It's important to get your company personality across in your collateral and can be important from a sales perspective when a potential client is looking to buy from you. This can be portrayed in many ways, whether it's tone of voice, photography or even in your logo.


8. Values

What do you believe in, what does your business stand for? This can help in two ways:

  • Externally - People want to know that they can trust you and a values statement is a perfect way to get this across.
  • Internally - You need all of your staff on the same page. You need a consistent vision across your entire company and even better, get your staff involved when you're developing them. This can be a brilliant way of making your staff feel and be a more dedicated part of the business.


9. Strapline

"It does exactly what it says on the tin" A brilliant example of a strapline that has been successful and works fantastically well. Traditionally a strapline is there to explain what you do in a short and concise manner. Nike again - "Just Do It", this is an example of a strapline that is used subtly to get people active which of course encourages people to use their products.


10. Guidelines

Consistency, consistency, consistency. Very important for companies that allow others to use their brand, whether it's a design agency or a partner company that is selling your product or even for internal use. We've developed many of these for our clients and really help with a consistent look for everything from your internal email signatures to the use of your logo on a partner's advert.


11. Tone of voice

Marks & Spencer again, can you tell I like my food?! "This is not just a steak... it's a hand reared, succulent, Aberdeen angus steak, aged for 28 days..." Tone of voice can also be used to create a confidence in your product. If you sell a security product, you want to make a prospective client feel like they are in safe hands and by speaking in a practical manner about your experience and dedication then it will fill people with confidence.


In my opinion, these are the most important things you need to concentrate on to build your brand identity and just a logo isn't enough. Put some time, effort and thought into it and you'll really start to see the benefits.


Paul Mellon, Senior Designer


So now, with our help, you've got your new brand. Then what?


Protecting your brand


Alistair Gay, Partner and co-head of Keltie's trade mark practice, specialises in trade mark, design and copyright law. He advises on general trade mark clearance, prosecution and registration matters, and has considerable experience in dealing with enforcement issues and the management of international trade mark portfolios.


Here, he explains how and why trade marking your brand is critical.


Brands, Trade Marks and Designs…what's the difference?


As Paul outlines, a brand is made up of many elements. From a legal perspective, we consider that a brand encompasses all elements of the "get-up" or "trade dress" under which a product or service is offered.


In safeguarding the brands of our clients, the two main intellectual property rights that we specialise in registering are:


  • Trade marks

Traditionally, this has included word marks and logo marks, for example, NIKE or the famous Nike SWOOSH logo. However, trade marks can include any sign that is capable of distinguishing the goods and services of one undertaking from another, for example, distinctive shapes, sounds, colours, smells or even movements.


  • Registered Designs

Designs can be registered for the appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation. Icons and logos can also be protected as designs.


What about Company Names and Domain Names?


One common misconception is that by registering a company name at Companies House or a domain name, you are free to sell goods and services under a corresponding trade mark and able to prevent others from doing so. That's not the case.


A registered company name identifies a legal entity (business) and simply prevents others from incorporating a company under the same or a very closely similar name. It does not prevent others from selling goods or services under the same or a similar name. On the other hand, trade marks can identify a business as well as products and services, with registered trade marks providing the owner with exclusive rights in the trade mark which are infringed by the use of the same sign for the goods/services for which the mark is registered, or the same or a similar sign for identical/similar goods or services where the is a likelihood of confusion between the two.


Clear the way!


When launching new brands, or expanding existing brands into new product, service or geographical markets, it's important at an early stage of the process to conduct searches, to ensure that your investment in the brand development process isn't wasted. With access to trade mark databases throughout the world and extensive experience in brand clearance, we are able to work seamlessly with Storm12 to ensure that your brand doesn't infringe the trade mark or registered design rights of others: the last thing you want is the excitement of a launch being dampened by the threat of injunction and legal fees.


Searches haven't identified conflicting rights, so can I register?


Words that merely describe a product or service are generally not registrable, unless it can be demonstrated that a reputation has been established in the trade mark through extensive use. For instance the word TASTY would not be registrable as a trade mark for food products. The strongest marks are generally invented words such as KODAK or fanciful marks such as NORTH POLE for bananas.


There is clearly a tension between legal and marketing view points when adopting a new trade mark as companies often wish the trade mark to inform the consumer about the nature of the product or service, whereas from a legal perspective such marks are weak and difficult to register. This is where Storm12 and Keltie can work with you in developing a strategy that helps deliver a sound product message while creating a distinctive and protectable brand. For instance, our clients often adopt the approach of having a distinctive core trade mark, which distinguishes the goods and services from competitors and which is easily enforced against others, whilst using a strapline that describes or alludes to the product and which therefore educates the consumer.


Why Register?


In the UK and in certain other countries, trade mark rights can be established through use of a trade mark and the resulting reputation and goodwill, without registration. However, it can be more difficult and costly to enforce such unregistered rights as it is necessary to file evidence that the public associates the brand exclusively with you and that there is misrepresentation by the infringer, resulting in damage to your business.


On the other hand, registered trade mark protection provides a statutory monopoly - the owner has exclusive rights in the trade mark which are infringed by use of the trade mark without consent. The owner can also prevent the use of an identical sign for similar goods/services or similar signs for identical or similar goods/services where is a likelihood of confusion. Given the registered nature of such rights, they are typically easier and less costly to enforce. Registered trade marks can be renewed indefinitely and will remain valid provided that use of the mark does not lapse for a consecutive period of five years following registration.


As many companies will conduct trade mark searches prior to adopting a trade mark, having a registered trade mark on a searchable database also acts as a strong deterrent to others.


Failing to register a trade mark exposes you to the risk that a competitor registers before you have established unregistered rights, leaving you exposed to infringement proceedings. For instance, you may plan on launching initially with a narrow product or service offering with a view to expanding in the future. Registering a trade mark that covers your future interests will safeguard your position while you make preparations for launch and develop the business. Even if you have established unregistered trade mark rights, failing to register may leave you having to oppose the registration of your mark by a competitor who files first.


In terms of design protection, designs with individual character (that is where the overall impression on the informed user differs from the overall impression of designs made available to the public) may be registered. Registered design protection provides the owner with exclusive rights to the design and extends to any design which doesn't produce a different overall impression. It is important to note that disclosure of a design can preclude registration. Whilst there is a grace period for filing, wherein disclosure of the design by the designer up to 12 months prior to filing does not preclude registration, we recommend that advice is sought regarding filing, prior to any disclosure.


We now live in a global marketplace, with it seldom being the case that we are competing solely with local competitors. This makes it all the more important to clear and register your trade marks in your core trading jurisdictions, ideally before you launch.


Finally, if you are growing your business to sell or looking for external investment, investors will conduct a due diligence review of your intellectual property rights including trade marks and designs, to ensure that the business is in a position to trade without conflict and to prevent others from taking an unfair advantage of its reputation. If you have registered your designs and trade marks, you are a step close to being investor ready.


Why instruct a trade mark attorney such as Keltie?


Keltie has a wealth of experience in protecting the trade mark and design rights of its clients internationally. We act for clients of all sizes, from sole practitioners and well-known individuals, to multi-national corporates. We act for those wishing to defend and protect their rights, as well as those wishing to enforce their rights.


We are extremely commercial in our approach, will take time to understand your current and future business interests and goals and will develop with you and Storm12 a cost effective strategy for safeguarding your brand.


Why not get in touch - Storm12 is able to set up a free 30 minute consultation with Keltie, for prospective clients.


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