Thoughts on brands and trademarks

2/2021 10.3.2021
Company branding team

Companies are required in today’s global markets to possess an understanding on the impact on how branding and trademarks affect their business. Although trademark, brand and IPR professionals approach the topic from different perspectives, the synergy between these provide added value for companies.

To bridge up the gap between brands and trademarks and especially IPRs, the online education programme Trademark Meets Brand starts again in March. I had the pleasure to plan the outline of the programme. The outline was borne out of different needs arising from Finnish companies and their trademarks, branding and marketing people. The linkage of a brand and trademark goes hand in theory, as companies rely on trademarks to protect their brands. Brand focuses on the perceived added value conveyed by the brand, not by the trademark.  Too often companies can overlook the link between the brand and IPRs, as these are managed organizationally from different places.

As an in-house trademark counsel, I get the window seat being part of changing things in a company. Prior to this position, I worked as a consultant by helping different companies in succeeding with their brands and trademarks. This was really rewarding as you get to hear the challenges companies are facing and help them to solve such challenges. Today, I get the opportunity to speak about the importance of a brand and trademarks within our company and to most importantly initiate change. The biggest challenge is to find and identify the synergies that address our ways of working and change internal processes and mindsets to embrace brand and trademark thinking. The good news is that there is an order for such work as the competition is tough and the role of brands is understood.

In my opinion it is imperative this topic gets more attention. I am not a fan of separating brands from trademarks or from IPRs in general as you then lose the in-depth business understanding. Most importantly you lose the connection to branding people and to the essence of a brand. Bringing theory close to practice, so that world of trademarks support the creative work of branding, is the key in succeeding. The context of trademark law needs to be analysed from the view of the brand builder aka company. Raising the questions such as what kind of incentive does trademark protection actually bring to business and how to manage your trademark portfolio in a manner that it brings added value to the company are intriguing and needs to be openly discussed.

One very concrete example of power of branding, is the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical companies have identified an effective way to forestall their loss of profits and post patent expiration by means of branding. However, such strategy means the high level of understanding about the synergies of branding, patenting and other IP rights. There is demand in the market place to understand such synergies, as the high-level costs of commercialization and near-term patent expirations force companies to devise new strategies that increase their returns from their product portfolio. Now, one way of looking at this matter, is to understand the value of branding and trademark protection long before the patent expires and by linking brand understanding to IPRs. Branding isn’t only about fluffy things (as I sometimes get to hear), but it is pure business and how you to beat your competition.

Both worlds of brand and trademark are ruled by different nominators. Trademark is directed and regulated by different laws and brands by different theories and models. The link in between these different worlds is not evident at first glance at all aspects. The common factor lies there, in how to interpret the connection between brand management practices and trademark portfolio strategies. In the Trademark Meets Brand education programme, we seek to speak about these issues by combining these worlds by having top-notch speakers from branding and IPR sectors.

Hope to see you at the program!

Taru Kallio-Nyholm

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taru kallio-nyholmWho is Taru Kallio-Nyholm?

Taru is working at Orion Corporation as a Trademark & Design Counsel. She is an IPR, trademark, brand & strategy enthusiast who loves to change the world in telling about brands and trademarks. Taru enjoys helping internal stakeholders to succeed with their trademark, brand and design-related projects.