Protecting Your Brand: Trademarking in the Midst of a Rebrand
Brand updates are integral to the longevity of any business, but as businesses evolve - so too should their trademarks. Whether you're altering your logo, strapline or brand name, trademark protection remains a cornerstone of brand preservation.
Trademarking – sometimes referred to as an intellectual property mark – is the legal process of claiming ownership over a distinctive symbol, word, image, phrase, or design that represents a brand or business.
What’s key here, is that it’s an official, legally binding registration by the company marking it as their exclusive property. Essentially, the process reinforces a brand’s unique identity, enhances its brand value and shields it from potential legal disputes or imitation by other brands with similar assets.
Why you should consider it
1. Avoids costly setbacks. Failing to secure your trademark can lead to significant complications, potentially forcing you to rethink and redo aspects of your brand – a situation you definitely want to avoid.
2. Saves budgeting disasters. Such setbacks can also translate into budgetary headaches. Imagine having to allocate additional funds for teams to revisit and revise work that was already done. That’s not a scenario anyone wants to deal with.
3. Improves time investment. The legal processes involved in trademarking can be quite time-consuming, stretching over weeks or even months. Incorporating this into your project timelines from the outset ensures you don’t end up with a never-ending project on your hands.
Rebranding and trademarking: five proven tips for success
If you’re considering trademarking or just want some extra insights before diving in, we’ve got you covered with our five essential tips – supported by case studies drawn from our design expertise – for navigating trademarking during a rebrand.
1. Include it in your briefing process. Emphasise the significance of trademarking during your briefing with designers, ensuring it doesn’t get sidelined as an afterthought. If you’re part of a design team, be proactive, kickstart the discussion early on and pose the essential questions to gain a solid understanding of what can realistically be accomplished.
Example: While working with Kwalee, a prominent video game developer and publisher, to give their brand a fresh look, trademarking emerged as a significant consideration during the rebranding process. Their existing logo had already been trademarked, meaning any changes required a compelling justification. The takeaway? Trademarking can be a costly and intricate procedure, not to be undertaken or undone lightly.
2. Clarify which logo elements are trademarked. Gather all the insight you can into which logo aspects are trademarked. Is it a large portion of the logo or just a small section? If it’s limited to a small part, ask yourself how you can leverage this effectively within the new brand identity? What elements can be modified or enhanced to align with your goals?
Example: We embarked on a series of creative experiments to explore possibilities for revitalising Kwalee’s logo, which featured a trademarked handprint. After thorough exploration, the conclusion was that the primary logo should remain unchanged. However, we developed sub-brand logos for each of Kwalee’s verticals. This strategic move not only contributed to the overall brand architecture but also served as a bridge connecting the new brand identity with the existing logo.
3. Gauge how central logo change is to the overall rebrand. It’s essential to weigh both sides of the equation carefully. Should you retain the current logo, or does the expense of changing it outweigh the potential drawbacks? It’s vital to base design choices on solid business and financial reasoning rather than just aesthetic appeal.
On the flip side, investing in good design can lead to substantial returns. Although the initial costs may be intimidating, it’s important not to underestimate the long-term value of strategic design investments. And remember, just because something has worked for your brand in the past, doesn’t mean that it will continue to – don’t let nostalgia hold you back from making necessary changes that could bolster your brand.
Example: In our partnership with Kwalee, we conducted collaborative discussions with key stakeholders, ensuring that we considered all valuable insights and weighed up all the facts before making a decision.
4. Strive for design synergy with the existing logo. Gear your design assets up to work in harmony with the old logo – don’t try and cover it up or overpower it. By doing so, you can maintain the valuable elements of your brand’s identity while infusing freshness and relevance into your visual identity.
Example: While working with Kwalee, we seamlessly integrated their new identity with their existing logo, leveraging their new typeface to create a cohesive brand architecture system. Our approach involved the careful incorporation of elements from their original identity, such as their vibrant yellow and black colour palette. Importantly, this decision not only conveyed a sense of evolution rather than revolution, but also showcased the logo’s strengths within a fresh, contemporary context.
5. Create rules for use. Last but not least, never forget the importance of establishing comprehensive guidelines for safeguarding the integrity of your trademarked logo. Whether it involves instructions on incorporating it into a fresh brand identity or adopting an entirely new trademarked logo, ensure clarity for everyone involved.
Trademarking is more than just a legal formality; it’s a strategic investment that safeguards your brand’s future. Protect your brand today to secure tomorrow’s success. Get in touch.