Protecting your brand identity

Companies strive to achieve excellence through their branding, it’s what separates their products and services from their competitors and they know their consumers can be very brand conscious. Brand image can be one of the most important factors in determining the success of a company which is why it should be protected at all costs.

So what is ‘brand identity’?

A brand, as defined by the American Marketing Association, is a ‘name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.’ Brand identity is how consumers perceive the value, products/services and personality of a company’s brand.

Take McDonald’s for instance, over the years they have developed a phenomenal brand identity. Their golden yellow arches are recognized anywhere in the world, their French fries taste the same in every country and their service quality delivers exactly what consumers expect from a fast food chain every single time. Consumers trust McDonald’s.

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A great brand identity allows a company to

  • Make a great first impression
  • Distinguish you from the competition
  • Increase consumer awareness
  • Establish loyalty and trust
  • Deliver promises
  • Inspire employees

How can you protect your brand?

A company invests a lot of time and money to ensure they have great brand identity, therefore it makes sense that they would want to make the same investment protecting their brand from other competitors. Protecting the brand, whether from infringement, copying or misuse, requires expert legal knowledge. Trademark law allows you to register your name, logo and packaging for an indefinite period and patent law allows you to protect your product for a specific number of years.

Do you think Nike would forgo brand protection so that other sporting manufacturers could use their swoosh logo and “Just do it” slogan in their own product branding. Absolutely not. Allowing a competitor to similarly brand their products and confuse consumers into believing they are purchasing a product that delivers the satisfaction of a Nike product would be very poor business practice and result in a dramatic market share decrease. Nike understands the importance of brand protection:

“We utilize trademarks on nearly all of our products and believe that having distinctive marks that are readily identifiable is an important factor in creating a market for our goods, in identifying the Company, and in distinguishing our goods from the goods of others. We consider our NIKE® and Swoosh Design® trademarks to be among our most valuable assets and we have registered these trademarks in over 150 countries. In addition, we own many other trademarks that we utilize in marketing our products. We continue to vigorously protect our trademarks against infringement”


Interesting legal cases

These courtroom battles go to show that companies are willing to spend the big bucks to ensure their brand remains protected not only in the marketplace and but also from their direct competitors.





11 thoughts on “Protecting your brand identity

  1. HI…
    The first thing we will need to do is identify the elements of your brand that are unique and should be protected. This can include things such as your company name, logo or symbol, and other distinct elements of your business. Once we have that list, think of the ways we can protect those elements. I am giving two examples of element how to protect your branding, but this list is by no means exhaustive.
    1.Trademark 2. Domain


  2. It must be extremely difficult (but no less important) for global brands to protect their asset. The different legal frameworks across the world and its enforcement must make this a huge and ongoing issue for these companies. The more successful and valuable your brand is the more likely it is to be attacked and the more important it is to protect it. An ever growing cycle.


  3. One effective way used by successful brands like McDonald’s is personification which is attribution of human characteristics to brands.It is implemented by association of a cartoon or human character to a brand and reinforcement of that association over time (Delbaere, McQuarrie & Phillips 2011).
    In fact by creating a brand character McDonald’s is able to differentiate itself from its competitors and enhance the impact and influence of it’s marketing messages on consumers including kids(Brown 2011).
    This strategy would significantly protect a brand’s identity and reduces the likelihood of imitating a successful business model by other players and followers in a market.

    Delbaere, M., McQuarrie, E.F. & Phillips, B.J. 2011, “PERSONIFICATION IN ADVERTISING”, Journal of Advertising, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 121-130.

    Brown, S. 2011, “IT’S ALIVE INSIDE! A NOTE ON THE PREVALENCE OF PERSONIFICATION”, Irish Marketing Review, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 3-11.


  4. It’s very interesting that even now as I am typing I can think of a brand and numerous qualities and expectancies automatically come o mind. For instance Nike is professional, elite, good quality. Abercrombie ad Fitch, sophisticated, attractive, high end. I suppose this is why protecting the brand is so important because of the work put in to put these perceptions into the consumers psych and you want to be able to keep those perceptions strong. Nothing worse for a big label to be copied by a cheaper lower quality product because that has the potential to seriously deteriorate the image of the brand.


  5. Like you say, the McDonald’s brand is extremely well known and anyone you ask would be able to tell you what it means and what they sell. It’s therefore interesting that they’ve tried to branch out into providing more healthy food options as well as cakes and coffee. If we were thinking of going out for a healthy lunch and a good coffee, there’s no way we’d consider going to Mc Donalds and I’m sure most consumers would think the same way. This just doesn’t fit with their brand identity and the range of products that consumers expect to purchase there. You’ve got ask what they were trying to achieve by even considering trying to enter the healthy food market. Clearly this attempt at brand extension hasn’t been a huge success. With such a strong brand identity, I wonder how easy it will be for McDonalds to extend their brand in order to meet the changing needs of consumers in a climate where there is lot more choice and consumers can buy good quality food at affordable prices elsewhere.


  6. I agree with you McDonalds have an excellent product branding. McDonalds provide different type of products in each country but they still maintain their brand as a fast food retailer. As you said their French fries taste the same in every country even though they are being produced by different manufacturers in each country. They still keep their trademark with the symbol capital M with yellow and red coloured themes. They also use the same icon and mascot in all McDonalds stores around the world. When people see a clown with red hair and a big red smile who wears on a yellow suit, red shoes and also wears a red and white striped shirt underneath with yellow gloves, people will know straight away that he is Ronald McDonalds. Don’t you agree?
    Of course protecting brand identity is very important. Protecting brand identity in global companies might be difficult and can be challenging too. I found an interesting article on how McDonalds protect its brand identity by using “Mc” prefix for their products all over the world.
    Another interesting legal cases: Coca Cola vs Pepsi. Coca Cola raised a legal case to Pepsi Co recently because of the similarity of Coke’s Carolina shape trademark is found in Pepsi bottles.;
    When you see this case, you might think it’s ridiculous. This is just how a company try to protect their brand identity to avoid any competitor uses their trademark especially with big companies.


  7. This topic lets us to be more concerned how to protect the brand identity which is valuable piece for organization’s image. As well as,it is important to protecting a brand is that an organization fulfills the promise behind a brand and maintains the positive reputation and company’s image. The brand should be top-of-mind in every decision made about how you run a company. This can be as involved as the marketing concepts or as simple as the consistency of the color of the packaging. Protecting the brand, whether from infringement, copying, or misuse, requires expert legal help.As mentioned above, McDonald’s trademarked its various brand identity elements in order to protect them so no other competitor could copy them. Two similar brands would be confusing to consumers. They might want to purchase food from McDonald’s but not realize they’re actually at another one. That means McDonald’s would lose sales and another shop where similar brand to McDonald has intentionally or unintentionally deceived consumers.
    The point you need to understand is that trademarks are meant to protect intellectual property — brand identity elements. Intellectual property takes a great deal of investments to build just as much as tangible property (if not more). You can’t steal hamburgers,and you can’t steal the golden arches.


  8. interesting post. Brand identity is so important! In short, it’s how the public views and feels about the values, products/services and personality of your brand. Would Nike be the same without its Swoosh and “Just Do It” tagline? Would Facebook be the same if it weren’t blue? the answer is a absolutely no! The company branding is usually the first thing people associate with a business, and because of this, it is one of the most important elements of a business. Companyies need to protect it from people looking to either debase the standing within the industry, or use the good image to trick others into thinking their business is your business, and walk away with your customers.Therefore, it definitely worth the money and efforts to protect brand identity. A small cash outlay upfront can save companies an immense amount of frustration down the road, and possibly give companies legal recourse against offenders.


  9. A company invest heavily in building a brand both in terms of money and time and there comes a time that many of are not even aware of the company but only the brands as it has become bigger than the company. When TATA motors acquired Jaguar, they maintained the name Jaguar and that was because of the aura this name carries. So naturally protecting your brand would come naturally and they are not wrong in doing so.


  10. Nice post !! … No matter business is small or large one, it is so important to Protect Brand Identity on online platforms & offline too. One can make sure that your identity is intact is by paying attention to what people are saying about your brand online. It is true that, it is often the case not what the brand stands for, but what consumers perception about the brand stands for.


  11. Hi,

    The article is talk about how to identify brand but before you attempt to define your brand, you need to determine Where Your Company Sits in the market. Take a long look at your company to get a clear picture of its purpose and place. The familiar SWOT Analysis can help, actually. The SWOT Analysis provides insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your brand, the opportunities it has in the marketplace, and the threats it might face in that marketplace. In short:

    Strengths: Characteristics of the business or project that give it an advantage over others
    Weaknesses: Characteristics that place the team at a disadvantage relative to others
    Opportunities: Elements that the project could exploit to its advantage
    Threats: Elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project



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