Steve Miller
October 12, 2023

Safeguard Your Start-up’s Success

Legally Protect Your Brand Identity

Your brand is more than your logo and name. It’s the essence of your start-up: your vision, values, and the promise you make to your customers. 

Yet many start-ups begin their branding journey with DIY, using tools like Canva to create a starter brand kit, which they intend to refine later on.

There’s a but coming. Start-up traction is rapid, so if you’re not careful, you can find yourself in a situation where a ‘starter’ brand becomes your branding.

That’s a significant risk - especially when you’re finding your place in a crowded market, and are using tools that aren’t really fit for purpose.

Steve, our founder, believes that every brand should protect its visual identity. Here’s why.

Why Legal Protection Matters

1. Differentiation from Competitors

The tech space is crowded. Without the guidance of an experienced branding professional, you can end up without a brand narrative - your story to tell - or an identity that blurs into the background. A sea of sameness with no brand recall. 

Not ideal when you’re trying to disrupt a market.

2. Strong First Impressions: Building Reputation and Trust

Unlike established companies that rely on established brand equity, start-ups must build trust and reputation fast.

A start-up that invests in its branding and appearance, while ensuring consistent application across platforms and channels, stands out. It makes a strong, confident first impression on would-be clients - they know who they are and are committed to communicating their vision.

3. Preventing Brand Misuse

Without protection, a competitor could spring up from nowhere with copycat branding, creating confusion for your customers, diluting your brand’s message, and eroding trust in your service or product - reducing your market share in the process.

Legal protection prevents this and ensures that if it does happen, you have a clear course of action to safeguard your position and be compensated - protecting your marketing and branding efforts (and investment) from imitation or misuse.

Where to Begin when Protecting Your Branding in the UK

Conduct a trademark search

Before settling on a brand name or logo conduct a comprehensive trademark search. 

This ensures that your name, logo, colour combinations, and other brand elements aren’t already registered or owned by someone else - preventing significant headaches, heartaches, and potential legal conflicts later!

Register your trademark

Once you’ve confirmed your desired branding as available and that it doesn’t infringe on any existing business’s intellectual property, you can register your trademark by submitting an application to the Intellectual Property Office.

Successful registration will grant you the exclusive rights to use your assets for a defined period of time. Businesses must usually re-register after 10 years.

Create Brand Guidelines for your Team

Once your trademark is registered, next you need to embed your branding into your organisational culture.

Robust brand guidelines that define how and where your brand assets should be used help you to solidify your brand’s identity internally and externally, and make it easier to protect yourselves against unauthorised usage and misappropriation.

Ongoing Monitoring and Enforcement

Once your brand is protected, sadly, you’ll need to remain vigilant against potential infringements. 

Regularly monitoring the market and taking prompt action against unauthorised usage helps maintain your brand identity’s integrity.

Seek Specialist Advice and Support

Trademark law can be complex. Always seek the support of a legal professional when required. 

Whether you’re right at the start of the branding process, or navigating a situation where you need to enforce your rights after a trademark infringement, specialist support is available. 

In Summary

Your brand is so much more than aesthetics. It’s the backbone of your company’s reputation. 

With solid legal foundations in place, you can confidently focus on building your brand equity, attracting customers, fundraising, and thriving in the highly competitive market.

For advice on building a brand that’s lovable, viable, and believable - get in touch

Lovable. Viable. Believable.
Brands and websites for B2B startups.

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