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Making mistakes in your branding is a sure-fire way to lower your turnover and alienate your customers.  

Avoiding these errors can help to ensure your success in the eyes of your target market and avoid any legal hassles.

In his blog Seth Godin defines a brand as encapsulating: “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

What’s in a name?

Your brand name can convey who you are and what you do. It can stick in people’s minds and do it quickly and concisely. If your brand name is dull and boring, people will switch off and mentally lump you in with thousands of other faceless companies. If it’s subtle or confusing, people won’t understand its meaning and it won’t stick.

Your brand name should be snappy, memorable and above all, it should relate to what you do.

If your business is selling electronics for example, you could name yourself ‘The Electronics Store’, but what does this communicate to your customers? ‘Just another company pushing electronics.’ If instead you branded yourself as ‘Everything Electronic’, your customers would think of you as the go-to place for electronics.

Want to stand out even more? Then be creative. Think about your specific audience and how you can appeal to them. Just make sure you don’t choose a name that is too close to your competitors and make sure any unique spelling can still be understood.

Does you brand name work for everyone?

An issue that can arise from your brand name is how it translates into other languages and cultures. There are numerous examples of this going wrong – for example in Mexico, the “Got Milk?” campaign translated to “are you lactating?”!

Pepsi’s “We bring you back to life” slogan became “we bring your ancestors back from the grave” in Chinese.

These mistakes can be difficult to avoid if you aren’t familiar with other languages, but Google has a free and useful translation service, so check with it. It also helps to involve a native speaker to look over your chosen brand name to make sure it works in their language.

Missing the mark

Some Australian companies have made similar mistakes when rebranding their products. An example is the attempted re-branding of a Vegemite product to iSnack 2.0. This apparent attempt to capitalise on the popularity of Apple’s “iFame” was roundly rejected by consumers.

The importance of trade marks

Once you have settled on your brand name, you should apply for a trade mark. Check the Australian Trade Mark Online Search System to ensure your chosen name isn’t already taken.

Once you’re sure your chosen brand name isn’t already taken, you can apply online to register it at on IPAustralia, using their eServices page. A trade mark is a great way to help protect your intellectual property so it is important to register quickly and provide all of the information requested. You can learn more about the legal side of this in the Trade Marks Act of 1995.

In essence, you are personally responsible for enforcing your registered trade mark if you think it is being infringed, in this case you may want to seek legal advice.

Preventing ‘Brand Squatting’

The aim of ‘brand squatters’ is to register trademarks, buy domain names and establish names on social media for your brand before you do. There is only one thing you can do about this – keep your bases covered.

Consider registering both the Australian and international domains for your website and start a profile on all social media sites. Brand squatting may seem like a minor annoyance but it can represent a major set-back if you’re looking to expand your strategy.

Read more

If your branding is going to be successful, it pays to invest in protecting it. Check out Amazon’s books on branding and trademarks, such as Dee Blick’s The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book and David Airey’s Logo Design Love. Read and learn.

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Greg Butler

Greg Butler

Greg Butler is a Communications Advisor with <a href="http://www.aami.com.au/business-insurance">Commercial Insurance at Suncorp</a>. He has a long history in the advertising industry, heading the creative departments of local and international agencies, including Clemenger, AdPartners and Leo Burnett. He is <a href="http://www.gio.com.au/business-insurance">experienced in insurance</a> and financial services having worked on accounts including AMP, Standard &amp; Chartered Bank, AGC/Westpac and Sun Alliance.

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