IPR Services Manager Taru Kallio-Nyholm writes about the relationship of trademarks and brands
In Finland, we have fabulous design, products, know-how, nature, art, and unequalled Northern magic; we should just know how to turn them into brands. The significance of brands in competition between companies is increasing all the time. Companies that do not invest in branding are not as successful as those for which a brand is an essential competition factor.
I think that a brand is about a story, a culture, a feeling of what comes out of the company or its products. As consumers, we decide whether we fall in love with the brand. Everyone defines a brand in a different way, but putting it short and sweet, the question is about the way in which the company decides what they do, what they are, why they do, what makes them different from others, and how they communicate. Branding is not only for large companies but for smaller businesses as well. This is a misconception that may prevent companies from making bold investments in branding.
A good brand is achieved by courage to create new and to stand out. For this, a heavy marketing organization is not necessarily always needed, as for an example digitalization makes it possible to introduce a brand to the whole world by a single click. In branding, you could say it is primarily the spirit and courage that are needed.
The attitude of the management of the company towards branding is significant as well. The management plays an important role in the way of doing brand work and in encouraging each employee to participate in bringing the brand story of the company forward. We Finns may be too modest in telling about our know-how, how magnificent products we create and how innovative technology we develop, as we do have a lot of know-how, and we should be proud of this. The Finnish proverb "silence is golden" should be forgotten in this context.
Trademark legislation is an important factor of brand work. Without trademarks and other IP rights, the money invested in the brand may be wasted. Brand work and trademark legislation walk hand in hand and support each other.
It is often thought that "being a small company, why should we invest in trademarks?" Still, the firm is in fact building up brand value and goodwill every day but forgetting the trademarks.
The very purpose of a trademark law is to protect the investment made by the company and to encourage companies to make sure that their ideas and brands are protected so that they would find their innovative work worthwhile.
It pays off to combine the brands and trademarks into a strategic entity and, at the very beginning of branding, to reflect on how to include trademarks in the brand work. Trademark legislation is an important factor of the brand work. It is not a disincentive, however the purpose is to enable business. Many companies fail to protect even their main brand with a trademark – but you do not usually leave the doors and windows of your own home open to a busy street and hope that your valuables are not stolen. The same logic applies in the world of brands and trademarks: it is worth trying to protect your investments and to take care of your own intellectual property.
In the end, the smoothness of the pas de deux of trademarks and brands is determined by the company's own volition. Does the firm allow them to perform the pas de deux? Do they join each other when one of them asks "Shall we dance?" In advance, it is jointly defined which elements are important in building up the brand and which steps are to be taken to protect them, following a predetermined choreography. Protecting of your own competition factors is at issue, so that it should not be disregarded. Companies can utilize the competitiveness of their brand better if the essential competition factors have been protected in the right way with trademarks.
Go ahead and let the trademarks and brands dance together!
The author works as IP Services Specialist at Berggren and loves trademarking of all kind.