Your brand may be one of the most important things you own. It is what makes you or your business easily identifiable and it sets the tone for how potential clients or other brands view you.

We will be assessing how branding plays a part in business as well as how best to protect your brand, with the aid of the law.

A literal definition of a brand is an identifying mark that is often written or even burned onto livestock, criminals and even slaves…yikes. Branding is basically an identifying marker that distinguishes one product, person or business from another. This can be either in the name, logo or any other identifying factors that are unique to a specific person or business. Good branding is the ability to be so recognisable that your company in tern represents the product of service it offers. Some brands have mastered branding so well that their name is directly associated with a certain product, even if it’s a product that’s not unique to them.

I was once in a grocery store, when I heard a woman yell to her partner asking him to get some toothpaste. I remember this conversation quite vividly because a she was delivering her instruction; she told him “Don’t forget to take Colgate, the Aquafresh one.” To her, and many other South Africans, the general term for toothpaste is Colgate. This is branding at its best, and is ultimately the goal of many companies.

Brand protection is ensuring the preservation of the intellectual property of companies or people against copyright, counterfeiters and other pirates or infringement perpetrators.  It is important to register your brand or trademark in order to protect the company’s image and ensure that its reputation and subsequent value stays strong. Brand protection is important because your name, logo or other identifying characteristics represent your company and are closely tied with the values of the business and quality of the products or services provided by the specific brad.

Without brand protection, anyone could just start a business and call themselves Louis Vuitton in order to profit from an already existing and well established brand, tarnishing the reputation of the original company who without a doubt worked so hard to build. Due to the prevalence of trademark infringements, there have been several developments in brad protection software, which focuses on things like keyword monitoring, machine learning and image recognition to name but a few.

There are many laws and protections in place in order to limit the theft of intellectual property such as the Trademark Act No.194 of 1993 as well as the Copyright Act 98 of 1978, which allows you to protect your business by registering your unique mark, name, logo or even catchphrase from being misused by people who are not associated with your brand. .

To ensure the protection of your brand, make sure that it is properly registered, as commercial law offers protection and legal remedies. Also ensure that you keep an eye out for any posers using your brand unjustly. Really good branding has the power to monopolise entire industries, and even change certain word associations with certain products and that is the true goal of any successful brand.

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