Everyone is filling out their basketball brackets today, trying to figure out which will be the correct upsets to pick.  The NCAA has created a veritable branding powerhouse with MARCH MADNESS® and THE ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR®.  Story has it that the name was actually used for decades in Illinois high school basketball before NCAA television commentators began using it, the name stuck and the NCAA made a deal for use and ownership of the trademark.  See news coverage here: http://www.ldnews.com/news/ci_14664289

MARCH MADNESS® is an terrific brand.  The name is fun.  It is unique.  It rhymes.  It does not automatically tell the consumer anything about basketball or a tournament of teams, just that it happens in March and that it is madness.  Yet because it is such a good name and so well marketed, everyone knows what it is.  Of course, a successful product is necessary for a great brand, and both casual and devoted fans love the nature of the tournament and the fun of filling out brackets.  Add a great brand name to a great product, and you get a knockout.  MARCH MADNESS® is such a combination.

Of course, now that the MARCH MADNESS® trademark is so strong, the owners spend a considerable amount of time and money protecting it with strict usage guidelines for advertising partners and enforcement activities against infringers.  The stronger the brand and the more control the owners can exert over it, the more they can charge their licensing and advertising partners to be ‘official’ users of the brand.  This is true in the cases of brand worth millions of dollars or more, like MARCH MADNESS®, but also true of a much smaller brand.  The more unique the brand and the better it is protected, the more valuable it can become as an asset.

Lesson: Is your brand a knockout?  If you have a great product or service but are not a “Final Four” team in your industry, perhaps your trademarks need revisiting.  A powerful product plus a powerful trademark is winning formula, just like MARCH MADNESS® and the FINAL FOUR®.

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