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  • Posted by: Fell Gray on Thursday, February 13 2014 03:56 PM | Comments (0)

    Aviage Systems
    Best Asian Brands

    A 玫瑰 by any other name

    It’s the start of a new year in China, and the astrologists tell us that the Year of the Horse has the potential to be more successful than last year, but it will require patience and perseverance. And for any brand looking to launch a Chinese brand name this year (or any other), these are words to live by.

    While the appeal of the Chinese market is clear to most, the need for a Chinese name may not be. Given that the average Chinese consumer doesn’t speak English and sees Roman characters as graphic elements, a Chinese name is important just to break through. But there are a host of other reasons: a cultural desire to protect and preserve the Chinese language, marketing support necessary to educate consumers on the English name, and government requirements (e.g., audible Chinese for all TV advertising), to name a few.

    When you do jump into Chinese name development, brace yourself for the realities of the screening process. There are 6.27M active trademarks and more than 600,000 filed each year. And China follows a first-to-file not a first-to-use system, so registration can be a bit of a land grab. Beyond that are language and cultural considerations for a successful name: tonality, harmony checks, dialects, simplified vs traditional characters…. As I said: patience and perseverance.

    Then, Then Again, Now

    To get to the right names, you’ll have a range of creative strategies at your disposal: creation, translation, literation, and transliteration. The right choice lies in determining the importance of meaning vs. sounding the same as your existing name. Elevating the importance of meaning in Chinese over the sound will aid memorability and recall. And a name that sounds similar will strengthen the connection to the international name and its brand equity. Some brands manage to find an equal balance through transliteration (well done, Coke), but many make the decision to pick one over the other. Nike chose a name that sounds identical to the English and means “enduring and preserving,” while Citibank chose a name that sounds different but means star spangled banner bank. All are valid options, depending on your goals.

    Whatever your approach, one of the most important things to remember when evaluating your options is: don’t hear with an English ear. The right word in English is not necessarily the right word in Chinese. Pairings of characters can change meaning significantly, so you can’t look at characters individually. And you can’t underestimate the importance of symbols in Chinese culture, so be sure you are looking at all the layers of meaning the name provides.

    This week's guest author, Fell Gray, is Senior Director of Verbal Identity for Interbrand New York. She is also the practice leader for Brand Voice.

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  • Posted by: Nicole Briggs on Monday, April 29 2013 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

    Starting today at 5PM EST/2PM PST, Comedy Central and more than 50 popular comedians such as The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal, Lil Rel Howery and Amy Schumer are participating in a social media event that brings the Comedy Central and Twitter brands together. Building on and disrupting the Twitter Party, the brands are launching #ComedyFest.

    Tonight’s kickoff event, Mel Brooks Joins Twitter, features Carl Reiner and Judd Apatow as moderator. Following the hashtag #ComedyFest, people can join in all of the action from @MelBrooks’ historic first tweet tonight through Friday, May 3.

    Twitter PartyBusinesses and bloggers have long known the opportunity that lies in the Twitter hashtag to create Twitter Parties, promote products and ideas and find follow-worthy content. Twitter began using the hashtag as early as 2007 and they’re very popular today. Chances are you’ve used a few. (Hashtags are words or phrases that follow behind the # symbol.) They’re currently found in use on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and GooglePlus. Now Facebook too is weighing getting in on the hashtag action.

    Facebook is working on incorporating the hashtag into its network as a way to start up group conversations. The feature will allow users to grab posts regarding aspecific topic or event in order to build conversations, keeping users connected and logged on even longer than before.

    This move could be a result of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram last year. Instagram already uses the symbol to sort photos.

    Spectators believe the new feature speaks to the ongoing business rivalry with Twitter. While Facebook is and remains much larger than Twitter, generating $4.3 billion in advertising last year, the competition is prevalent.

    The WSJ reports, “Facebook's work on a hashtag is a sign of the heightening battle between Facebook and Twitter, as both compete for mobile users and fight for advertising dollars. For years, Twitter and Facebook seemed to occupy different poles of the social-media spectrum. While Facebook was the home of close friends and family, Twitter was the real-time broadcasting device for the rest of the world.”

    Facebook Hashtag Protest

    Some are totally against the new feature. A Facebook page named “This is not Twitter. Hashtags don’t work here.” was set up and has more than 12,000 likes. However, there are many social media experts and users alike that think this is a great feature that will enhance user experience.

    Marketing seems to benefit the most from the use of hashtags in social media. Experts encourage companies to use hashtags in marketing messages on Twitter and other social media platforms. Continuous use of hashtags can help a brand go viral and generating more traffic.

    Hashtag MugHashtags can also help humanize brands, making them appealing to consumers. Hashtags make information easier to find, and that’s important. As a social media user myself, I enjoy having information given to me at lightning speed without the hassle of a full internet search. Other benefits of hashtags are promotion, unification, conversation, targeting and innovation, as Forbes noted.

    Question: So if Twitter is responsible for the success of hashtags, why don’t they own a trademark for it? Answer: Twitter has yet to register for a hashtag trademark.

    In fact, none of the major players in the social network industry have applied for trademark registrations for the word or symbol. From a trademark perspective hashtags could also be considered as an industry standard and functional in the category. If so, Twitter cannot claim rights to hashtags, if it is essential to the use or purpose of the offering.

    The use of a product feature as a trademark would put competitors at a disadvantage. This could be the reason Facebook does not own the trademark for the word Like, outside of its famous thumb up design. While we love a great trademark dispute, there won’t be one brewing here. Just seems like a game of fair or unfair competition.

    Nicole Briggs is an Associate Trademark Consultant for Interbrand.


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  • Posted by: Jerome McDonnell and Ilan Beesen on Wednesday, April 17 2013 01:09 PM | Comments (0)


    Unimas 

    Spearheading a Stronger Brand

    Thanks a billion: Making names pay

    Words are free. Well, they start out free, anyway. When developing a new name for a product, service, or business, it's easy to window-shop, imagining how your brand might look wearing this word or that. Then the search gets serious, and you spend time and creative effort to find ones that represent your business accurately. An investment in linguistic and validation research follows, and the ever-important trademark registration. At what point, exactly, does a word transform from a handful of letters into a valuable asset that's synonymous with the brand it represents?

    It takes time and investment to turn a word into a widely recognized brand, but it can pay off handsomely. Forbes noted that names can come to comprise a major portion of a business's total valuation: "'Google,' 'Walmart' and 'Microsoft'—all trademarked names—represent a significant chunk of their owners' overall worth." This means, potentially, billions of dollars.

    And the equity in a name goes beyond dollar signs. It has the power to inspire, to differentiate, to help your audiences understand that you're the right choice. It's a simple sound, a few syllables, yet it can have the power to move markets.

    Then: Then Again: Now:

    So how did the journey from "apple" to Apple™ happen? A word becomes a billion-dollar asset when iconic products are combined with concerted brand-building efforts. This special mixture yields value—a value that's captured in the name. As that value grows, so does the need to protect the name from misuse and outright piracy. Enter trademark legal.

    Brands and trademarks are often considered synonymous. They're related, but far from the same. You can register a trademark and not have a valuable brand, but it's impossible to build a valuable brand without owning its trademark.

    Trademarks are the quickest, most cost-effective way to ensure your name is exclusively yours. As every brand owner knows, differentiation is key. As the value of your brand and name grows, it's the power of the trademark that keeps would-be infringers at bay. For this reason, "the strength of its trademark defines the power of your brand."

    Owning a trademark doesn't guarantee your name or the brand behind it will become a billion-dollar asset. But it does provide the legal foundation on which you can build a free word into a prized aspect of your brand's identity.

    This week's guest authors are Jerome McDonnell, Global Trademark Director, and Ilan Beesen, Senior Consultant, Verbal Identity.

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  • Posted by: Nicole Briggs on Thursday, August 2 2012 09:24 AM | Comments (0)

    Doggie Lion 

    The infamous Snoop D O DOUBLE G also known as Snoop Dogg, well known rapper from the west coast, has changed his name to Snoop Lion. I don’t believe that Snoop, born as Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr., is exploring names of animals to see which suits him best. Snoop believes he is “the light, the lion.”

    A few months ago Snoop no longer Dogg took a trip to Jamaica to seek a new path. At a press conference Snoop explained that he went to a temple where the High Priest asked him his name, in which he told the Priest Snoop Dogg. The Priest said "No more. You are the light; you are the lion." From that moment on, it all clicked for Snoop Dogg.

    "I have always said I was Bob Marley reincarnated," Lion said. "I feel I have always been a Rastafari. I just didn't have my third eye open, but it's wide open right now." And wide open it is indeed. He is even going to cut out the explicit content in his music to cater to all ages. He has decided to do away with the gangster rap and replace it with reggae. Snoop Lion, the reggae artist? Huh?

     Snoop Lion

     Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

    On July 31st, Snoop abandoned all ties to Dogg and fully embraced his new stage name Snoop Lion. Snooplion.com, created on April 24th, will link you directly to Snoop’s new persona and give you all the details you need about his transformation.

    Snoop’s original name Snoop Dogg evolved from the nickname “Snoopy” giving to him by his parents because of his appearance.

    Snoop Lion, given to him by a High Priest in Jamaica isn’t just another name. In the Rastafari culture, The Lion is referred to “The Lion of Judah” which represents Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia. In Rastafari culture, Haile Selassie I is worshiped as God incarnate. For Snoop, this new name can mean a power reincarnation in the music industry.

    But what about the infamous Dogg? There are 5 different trademark registrations across the United States registrar, Canada and CTM for the name Snoop Dogg owned by Calvin Broadus. They cover a variety of goods and services from clothing, music recordings, television programs and entertainment services.

    Will Snoop abandon all trademark registrations? Will he renew? Who knows? As of August 1, 2012 no one has filed for a registration for Snoop Lion. Will he? I think he better.

    There are many benefits in owning a trademark registration. Without a registration Snoop Lion will run into tons of issues such as: no public notice of ownership of the mark, no legal presumption of ownership or exclusive rights of the mark, no ability to bring action concerning the mark in federal court, no right to use the federal registration symbol ®, and no listing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s databases.

    Will you miss Dogg? Will you embrace Lion?

     Lion

    Nicole Briggs is an Associate Trademark Consultant for Interbrand.

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  • Posted by: Karla Aspiras on Wednesday, July 25 2012 02:45 PM | Comments (0)
    McDonadld's & London 2012

    The Olympics’ opening day is fast approaching and the brand police are more stringent than ever as brand owners linger and abound, wanting to partake of the massive potential of marketing during the Olympics. However, if the brand is unable to land a sponsorship contract with the committee, then the brand owners might resort to ambush marketing tactics.

    One sponsor that has gained a lot of attention is McDonald's, because of the clause in its sponsorship contract for the Olympics that effectively prevents about 800 food retailers from selling chips within the Olympic Park. The Olympic committee has put measures in place to ensure that official Olympic sponsors have sufficient protection for their brands. But McDonald's monopoly on selling chips begs the question, how stringent can a brand owner be in policing its marks? Protection of a trademark is certainly a big benefit that an owner can monetize, but not to the point of abuse.

    From a fast-food giant's perspective, it is logical to be aggressive in the protection of a brand that it has invested so much time and resources on. Your brand is one of your most valuable assets.

    For a small business owner, it can be frustrating to be faced with a trademark infringement case when your intent was not to tread on someone else's brand. Rather, you fully believe that the brand that you have chosen for your goods and services represents you best without free loading on some other brand's recognition and goodwill.

    McDonald’s is certainly no stranger to enforcing their trademark rights and policing any potential misuse of their marks. A movie that comes to mind is Coming to America, which depicts a fictional interaction and friction between McDonald’s, and a tiny neighborhood burger joint "McDowell's." The owner of McDowell’s, Cleo was hounded by McDonald's because of alleged infringement of the McDonald's mark. Cleo McDowell attempts to dispel any confusion and points out subtle differences:

    "See, they're McDonald's...I'm McDowell's. They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs. They got the Big Mac, I got the Big Mick. We both got two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions, but their buns have sesame seeds. My buns have no seeds. "

    McDowell's 

    This argument of course doesn't fly. It is worth remembering that trademark infringement is not merely a mechanical evaluation of factors that can cause brand owners to claim use of their brands by another without license or authorization. The standard remains uniform throughout: confusion; but there are nuances involved and it is not always a black and white situation as the character Cleo naively puts it.

    Trademark law aims to protect consumers from being confused as to the source of a product or a service. But it also aims to protect brand owners from their investment into the development and protection of their brands. Ideally, these two are balanced, but "ideal" is not necessarily the real world.

    This drives the point home: the choice of a name for goods and services is a precarious matter. Brand strategy is not merely a matter of avoiding trademark infringement suits. It is just one aspect of brand strategy that must be taken into consideration. An overall brand strategy also considers a brand that the target markets responds to, and a brand that can represent the company's mission on a long term basis.

    Where do we then draw the line when brand protection treads the thin line between aggressive brand strategy and overzealous brand protection that borders on bullying?

     

    Karla Aspiras is a Trademark Analyst at Interbrand NY.

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