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Brand protection

ONE of the most crucial aspects of branding is to protect the brand itself.

This can take two main forms – protecting what the brand stands for and taking legal avenues to ensure no other company can use the strength of that brand for its own ends.

Adlink JLS director John Carlson said companies needed to avoid complacency when they had built a strong brand.

“You cannot afford to relax. Hecla Kettles used to be a huge brand in Australia. Now the plant does not exist because they failed to protect their brand,” he said.

Fitzgerald Professor of Accounting at The University of Melbourne Keith Houghton said accounting firms – which only had the reputation of their brand name to fall back on – could get into serious trouble if that name was ever tarnished.

“For example, research I’ve done on litigation against auditors shows that within one year of litigation against the firm there is a significant shift away from the firm – once news of that litigation is published,” Professor Houghton said.

“The second thing that happens is those clients that stay with the firm tend to pay lower fees.”

Besides protecting the brand through marketing means, companies can also take out trademark protection to guard their mark.

Wray and Associates trademarks attorney Richard Plummer said that, while firms could rely on common law protection, the best protection came through trademarks.

“The first thing a company should do when creating a brand is to search the trademarks register to ensure their new mark will not be infringing on anyone else’s. The trademark register is different to the business names register,” he said.

Mr Plummer said a trademark was not restricted to words or pictures. It could be a sound, a scent, the shape of packaging or a colour, he said.

Harley Davidson attempted to trademark the sound its motorcycles make, while the AFL is understood to be trying to trademark the sound of the siren at its matches.

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