As a small business, you might not think that you need to trademark branding materials such as your name, logo and slogan. That’s just for large companies, right?
Wrong. While legally establishing a trademark takes time and money, it secures your growing brand and protects you from your competition.
Protection from competition
- Build a brand: A small business’ brand is relatively unknown when you compare it to giants such as McDonalds, Apple or Nike. That is exactly why it is important to protect. You cannot rely upon an established reputation to attract new customers. You must painstakingly build a trustworthy brand, and uphold its good name.
- Maintain a brand: When your company name spreads, you need it to be accurate. If you do not protect your brand, competitors with lesser products or services can tarnish your positive reputation by creating a name, logo or slogan that is very similar to your own. This may confuse customers who vaguely recognize your name, and assume that the other company’s work is your own. If you trademark your information, you will have an easier time legally addressing the other company’s brand abuse.
- Secure a brand: If you do not trademark your brand, another company can try to steal it from you. Within the United States, your right to a name, slogan or logo is protected if you are the first to use it. This is not the case within other countries. Competitors abroad can legally take your branding information if they trademark it before you do.
Freedom from confusion
When you trademark your brand, your information goes through a thorough search process that ensures that your company’s trademark does not interfere with any other.
If you do not go through this process, you will not know whether you have a legal right to your company’s brand. If an established company finds that your branding is similar to their own, they may be able to force you to change your branding.
Forced rebranding will lose you time, money, weaken your reputation and confuse your existing customer base.
Your business is small now, but it holds promising growth opportunities. Even if you are currently flying under your competition’s radar, one great product idea may catapult you to the top of your customer’s wish list.
Take the time while you are still small to trademark your company’s brand. The more visible you are, the higher the risk that brand imitators will try to poach your customers. Establishing a trademark now will protect you from future brand encroachments.
You can file for trademarks on your own. However, it is a complicated process with large room for error. Consider contacting an attorney who can secure your business’ assets, and set you up for future growth.