protecting-your-brandEverything identifying your small business , including your name, the names of your products and services, your logo, slogan and taglines, create a unique statement for your small business. Your memorable branding is what gives you that edge over your competitor and helps drive brand and customer awareness and loyalty. In order to keep your branding yours, you need to protect it.

Protecting your brand and its associated products and services is critical to your future sales and success. Registering your trademark gives you exclusive rights to use it. Without trademark protection, a competitor could use your branded materials or something similar to confuse your customers into thinking that they are buying your branded product or service.

It is not just the logo of your small business that you need to trademark, but also your branded slogan, the names of your products or services, and any taglines or sound marks associated with your brand or its products. If you change your logo or slogan, be sure to keep vigilant on protecting your previous logos and look. One of Telsec’s virtual office clients told us they had a new competitor try to use branding similar to their old branding, but because the trademark was registered, they could not.

Before trying to trademark, make sure your brand is distinct from others, especially those who compete in your specific industry or sector. Once you have found a brand that works for your business, the first step is to search the various trademarks’ databases to see if it is available. You want to do this before investing your time, money and energy into a brand that may not be available for use in your country or the countries where you intend to do business. Sometimes using a trademark agent to help you with your search and filing of your small business trademark can be the best strategy.

Another step you need to take in protecting your brand is to brand your domain. While ideally your domain name and brand name should be the same, this is not always possible. Since so many domains are already taken, this may be difficult, so you might have to use a different domain brand online. This may mean that you lose some of the benefits of your existing brand awareness online – but if you cannot make your brand name your domain, at least include it in your domain. You can also see if the domain you are seeking is available for sale, because domain squatters often buy domain names in hopes of re-selling them.

When you are building your small business website, most SEO experts will tell you that it is important to make sure the keywords you want to be found under should actually be part of the text. But you also want to be sure your brand name is in text and not just a logo image. Optimize your home page for your brand name by using it multiple times in the text on the page, and include it in the page title (i.e. our page title -“Office Space Toronto, Toronto Office Space –”). This will not necessarily help the SEO process for finding you for your product or service, but you need to be higher up in the search results for your own brand than any of your competitors.

In attempts to protect your brand online, you should monitor the search ads that come up when you search your brand. One way that your competitors may try to use your brand name to their advantage is to pay search engines to display their PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertisement to trick those who search for your brand. This is a deceptive practice, one that your competitors know may be quite confusing for customers – but it can re-direct your traffic to their sites.