Maps bring data and information to life. However maps do more than orient people to places or ideas. They depict your brand. What is yours saying about your business?
A Watery Image
Businesses boasting clip art logos may be getting by, but this generic, diluted art can come back to bite. Without the ability to trademark clipart logos, rebranding after substantial business growth could cost you millions. Plunge forward ‘as is,’ and the ability to uphold a unique, corporate identity is lost, the amount investors are willing to pay for your business is reduced, and worse, copycats riding on your brand’s image will be quick to parasitize your success. Often an afterthought, such branding errors are far from rare, as graphic artists and trademark attorneys will attest. How can you prevent your map branding from getting sucked into the current of such troubled waters?
Trademark Registration is the Foundation of Brand Protection
Your business being a small map printing production is no excuse to sweep these potential trademark issues under the rug. Brand development and protection should begin at the inception of the business, alongside logistics from office space to equipment and licensure. This applies whether your business is a primarily online or brick-and-mortar retailer. Just because you’re not tweeting, doesn’t mean someone isn’t tweeting about you. Just because you’re not selling online, doesn’t mean someone won’t try and ride your coattails as an online doppelganger. These kinds of unauthorized activity can drain your business little-by-little, to the death.
What Can You Do to Ensure Comprehensive Brand Protection?
- Review trademarks already in-use in your market. Then hire a trademark attorney to avoid time, money and frustration invested in difficult-to-defend trademarks.
- Toss-around some ideas.
Made-up words are typically easier to protect than generic words. Just be sure to do a quick domain/social media search. You may be surprised at what’s already taken. (And buying out a business holding your preferred moniker may not be in the budget.)
- Be collaborative.
When embarking on your new map printing business venture, work in coordination with your marketing firm and trademark attorney to ensure your chosen brand will be registered, secured and defendable.
- Register early.
Once you decide on the mark you want to protect, register it with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Trademarks are retroactive, and your business may take time to develop. Consider overseas registration as well, particularly if you source/sell from China, where a large portion of counterfeit goods originate.
- Think local before you go global.
Many small businesses look to offshore graphic design firms for logo design, however these firms have a reputation for ripping-off the trademarks of others… And businesses who think they’ve gotten a deal later deal with the rebranding of stolen artwork – or worse, lawsuits.
- You paid for it – use it!
Use the ® and ™ symbols with all registered trademarks and logos in ALL communications. This helps thwart infringement, and improves chances of success in cases involving litigation.
- Be on alert.
Most search engines offer the ability to set up email alerts, notifications each time your trademark appears online, helping you prevent trademark infringement. Talk with distributors, encouraging them to report suspicious activity. If/when your budget permits, consider digital brand protection services such as BrandProtect, ChannelIQ, and other custom monitoring/reporting services.
- Don’t drop the ball.
Brand protection doesn’t end with successful logo trademarking. Monitoring for trademarking and other threats should be a continued role. Appoint a ‘brand cop’ to monitor searches and respond to complaints.
Looking for a map printing service who helps you put your best foot forward? From inception to ink, MapPrinter has you covered. Contact us today.