Are you thinking of rebranding your business name or a product in 2019?
Rebranding can be an expensive exercise. Do it wrong and you could pay a heavy price – a very heavy price.
In this two-part series, I’m going to explain to you what could go wrong and in the second part my recommendation of considerations you should take when planning on the rebranding exercise. In fact, these considerations should be the recommended steps if you are to minimize the risk of infringement, litigation or generally issues that could hinder your business activities under your new brand.
When you consider rebranding your business name, logo or a product you are likely to spend a considerable amount of time and money to come up with the final look and feel.
Most businesses when rebranding consider how they want the rebranding to look, what message they want to convey to customers and potential customers and how they want their consumers to view their brand.
But many businesses forget about their direct or indirect competitors. These are kind of people that will object to your rebranding and may take the issue further.
So, what possible issues could arise?
Before delving onto how third parties may see your logo, it is important to consider the possibility that your rebranding might send out a message to consumers you did not intend to initially.
Suppose you create a logo and packaging that turns out to be a strikingly similar to third party. It could create confusion to the public. Due to the obvious similarities, your rebranding could remind consumers of a completely different brand and ultimately raise more awareness of that third-party brand then yours?
So, what you’ve done and continue to do is investing in a brand that is psychologically working in favor of a third-party brand. That sounds like a complete waste of money.
That brings us to the next issue: Cost!
So, you’ve done your rebranding, changed your business name or logo, paid for graphic artists, done a makeover of your business premises with the new branding, ordered merchandise and a launching to sweeten the process. Sounds like a pretty expensive exercise.
But you’ve failed to consider some of the recommended steps (which I will outline in detail in the next part of this article) and gone ahead with most or all of the above.
And out of the blue, a third party (which could possibly be a competitor) raises an issue of it by sending you a demand letter that you refrain from using the new logo or elements of your new brand because they in part or as a whole infringes their rights which may not be limited to trademark rights.
At that point, you could be putting all the money on artists, merchandise etc and whatever else you’ve spent on rebranding at risk. What if, the third party goes further and obtains a preliminary Court injunction (order) preventing you from further using the rebranded logo/packaging until the substantial matter is resolved in Court. Those items would be sitting idle in the store room, rebranded products recalled and whatever else put on hold. It seems like an administrative and marketing nightmare, right. Of course.
And then the substantial issues are then considered in Court. Legal costs, previously unbudgeted in the rebranding could start eating away your company’s entire budget. And it isn’t just the legal fees. Consider the time wasted on litigation as well as the opportunity cost of fully concentrating on areas that bring revenue to the business. Obviously, if you feel strongly about your rights to the brand for sure fight for it if you have the budget. But fighting for it won’t come easy, won’t come cheaply and success (or failure) won’t come overnight. Litigation is a process where you slowly reach success or failure – it’s a frustrating process.
There are other costs and hurdles that may impede on using your new brand but there are several simple and often ignored steps that you can take to safeguard you from any of the above.
Some of these steps include simple searches like business name search, company name search, trademark search, domain name search and market investigation just to name a few.
These searches help you in determining what is owned by other parties, whether your proposed mark or brand is available for use or search results could raise some potential issues in the future which might require further in-depth consideration or changes to your proposed logo.
These will all be explained in part 2 of this article but for the time being, I recommend you carefully consider the above and apply it to your own circumstances and think about “what if”?
Fortunately, there are strategic steps available to minimize any of the above from occurring. Steps that don’t cost a lot but could save you a lot!