Branding in the digital age: the role of trademarks

branding and trademarks iphub asia

A business can successfully compete in the market when its audience recognizes the company and its products. Thus, establishing a strong brand presence is quintessential to business success. However, most entrepreneurs forget – or think it unnecessary to protect their brand, which is equally important. In fact, securing a brand through trademarks should be one of the foremost considerations when starting a company. A registered trademark goes a long way in setting a company apart from its competitors, in the digital or retail landscapes.

Why is a trademark important in branding?

Your brand represents the goodwill and reputation of your business in the market. In effect, it bears the promise of consistent quality and trust for customers. A trademark, on the other hand, is the legal identity of your brand. It can be a word, letter, product name or logo. But there are other non-traditional trademarks like colours, scents, smells, or aspects of packaging. Whether classic or non-traditional, a registered trademark is an asset to your company, which gives you the sole right to use, license or sell the mark.

Brand identity theft is a very real possibility for any brand, big or small, especially in this age of e-commerce and online sales. Which is why registering a trademark is one of the best measures to prevent potential counterfeiters from using the same or a similar mark, keeping your brand integrity intact.

Find out how to register a trademark in Singapore.

Here are a few guiding principles on which to build your branding strategy with regard to trademarks:

1. Choosing a brand name

First, there should be no confusion between your trademark and company name. While registering your company is significant to your brand identity, filing a trademark application is just as important. And both processes are clearly distinct. You can read more about the difference between a trademark and company name.

Please bear in mind that a mark that seems attractive on the surface may not serve as an effective brand for your business. Therefore, before making a choice, evaluate these three key considerations:

– Does your mark fit your overall brand strategy?

– Does it send the right message to your audience for your business?

– Does it raise any trademark law risks?

2. Be distinctive

You may be inclined to choose a brand name that easily conveys to customers what your product or service is about. However, such generic names do not make an impression. They are also difficult to protect as trademarks. Instead, choose names that are distinctive, and memorable. These will also be easily trademarked.

Here are a few reasons why your trademark could be refused by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS).

3. Screen your mark

Before you decide on your mark and begin to use it, engage in initial diligence to ensure that your chosen name is not identical with or similar to another pre-existing mark. It will help to mitigate trademark infringement claims as well as avoid practical problems that will arise when customers confuse your product or service with that of another’s.

4. Think global when registering your trademark 

You might start as a local business and register your mark in that geographical area. However, in the future, your business may grow beyond your borders. You must remember that trademark protection is territorial in nature, and you should consider obtaining protection overseas. In fact, a local mindset is one of the top trademark mistakes startups make.

You can apply for protection overseas via the Madrid System, which will provide protection in multiple jurisdictions simultaneously.

5. Actively monitor your mark

In today’s digital world, infringement is possible through social media sites, PPC advertising, or cybersquatting. It is advisable to conduct regular online searches to check if someone is using identical or similar marks as yours on their website, social media page, etc.

The digital age has opened numerous opportunities through the Internet for growing your business. However, it has also made it more difficult to take action to defend your trademark rights – especially if you have not registered it. Begin by registering your mark so that you can promote and sell your product or service freely, online and in-store, and protect your business interests.

At IPHub Asia, we specialise in trademark and design protection in Asia, with a strong focus on Southeast Asia. Please get in touch if you have any questions about branding and trademarks, and if you need help with registering your trademark. 

You can also visit our website to know more about our services.

As Founder and Managing Director of IPHub Asia, Dorothée is passionate about trademarks and the importance they hold in any business – small or large, in the Asian ecosystem. She has been living in Asia since 2003 and is up-to-date with the legislative changes of each country with regard to trademarks and other IP rights. She also enjoys visiting the South-East Asian region and is eager to discover new ways of doing business, embrace other cultures and meet new and disruptive entrepreneurs.

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