When is a brand not a brand? When it’s just a trade mark! We are often asked to value or sell a “brand” but when we perform IP diligence we discover that only a trade mark exists. It is worth considering how the following brand-enhancing activities can help you create and maintain a valuable brand. In our experience these same activities have helped maximise the value of brands we have sold.
- Trade mark protection: Confirm the extent of the formal IP that underpins the brand to ensure that your current and future investment is protected: in which classes a trade mark is listed; in which territories it is registered; and, how much use has been made of the trade mark in those classes and territories. It is also worth investigating if any parties are infringing the brand or passing off in those territories – if you are thinking about licensing out or selling a brand, this could be an indication of interest in the brand, which you could leverage to negotiate a higher value deal.
- Know your customer: Develop a database of customers or parties who are interested in hearing more about the brand, for example on social media. This can add significant value, particularly if you collect more granular information such as customer data, customer purchase behaviour, dates & times of sales, customer behaviour and sales volumes. Again, if you are thinking about licensing out or selling a brand, the access to customer insight could secure a price-premium.
- Register your domains: Brands have both online and offline recognition. The protection or registration of relevant domains associated with a brand will naturally underpin its value. In addition to natural searching strings for domains, consider including common misspellings of the brand, for example, Mettispartners.com, Meticepartners.com, Metrispartners.com, which again can add value to a brand both now or in the future when a sale might be completed.
- Be visually consistent: Visual recognition can be a powerful tool in transforming a trade mark into a valuable brand. Ensure that customers are exposed to consistent imagery related to the brand, including: logos, straplines, store fronts, window layouts, store layouts, online content and website pictures. Consistent and recognisable store and window formats, which customers immediately associate with a brand, are particularly important in the retail sector.
- Leverage your brand’s power: When valuing or selling a brand we will look for additional profit margins or pricing improvements that the brand commands in the market, in comparison to competitors. Evidence of this enhances the value of the trade mark and the brand that it underpins, for example, trade mark infringement enforcement activities to prevent copycats is likely to increase the value of a brand (underpinned by a registered trade mark) and help protect profit margins generated by the brand. Furthermore, trade mark infringement also highlights different markets and territories where the brand could generate additional revenues for your business.
A registered trade mark is, of course, a crucial element in the creation of brand value, but it is only one element of a brand. Committing to these simple brand-related activities can breathe life into a trade mark and help transform it into a valuable brand.