The following is an edited transcript of my video, Is Your Brand Seaworthy?

Is your brand seaworthy? You’ll see what I’m talking about with my comparison of trademark and brand protection to a strong ship navigating the ocean waters. To be seaworthy is important for a boat miles from shore in deep waters, with wind and waves and who knows what underneath it, whales, dolphins, other creatures. Otherwise, it’s a huge risk for those on board, for the investment in the boat, and for the mission of the boat. A brand also needs to be properly protected and seaworthy just like a boat out on the ocean.

I’m going to break down this metaphor with a couple of the same elements of a seaworthy boat and a protected brand. The core of a seaworthy boat is its keel – the long, sturdy part of the boat that’s underwater that you can’t even see as it sails or navigates its way above the water, but is the secret to helping it stay upright. For the boat, much of the action is actually not visible above the sea line and the keel not only helps keep it up in choppy waters, it helps it right itself when there is an issue.

For a brand, the keel is having creative, unique, in the relevant industry, branding. Once a brand starts with that strong core, it’s well on its way to being seaworthy

A boat also needs a sturdy, solid hull. That’s the shell that protects it from water coming in, protects it from bumping against things and makes the surface of the boat hard to penetrate. A brand has a registration, ideally with the US Patent and Trademark Office, that serves as the hull. It provides a layer of protection around the brand that makes it harder for someone to attack it, take away the trademark, challenge it, or infringe it successfully.

A seaworthy ship also needs a method of propulsion to provide force to go on its voyage. That could be sails, it could be an engine, or a combination of those things, but it needs a way to propel itself. For a brand, that sort of propulsion is the proper use of the brand over time. Proper use means using the proper symbols, the ® once it’s registered – making it stand apart from the other language used by the business. Using the mark in bold or italics is a way that can really signifies that wording is a brand and is special.

A boat out in distant, choppy waters, in the midst of a potential storm, also needs an experienced crew. In fact, all of the other things are almost worthless without an experience crew, right? Because when you encounter a bad situation or a storm, you’ll be less likely to safely, calmly steer your way out of it alone. That is your experienced trademark counsel, to help guide and navigate your brand through choppy waters, to deal with obtaining that registration, advising about proper use, dealing with renewals, maintenance and infringements. Experienced advisors are going to help put the whole venture together and ensure that when a brand encounters choppy waters, it’s dealt with effectively and efficiently and properly. That’s why having a trusted advisor and experienced trademark attorney is so valuable to steer that ship. After all, the brand, like the ship, is a tremendous investment for the business and you need all of the pieces to make it properly seaworthy.


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