What makes an inspiring case study after a catastrophic disaster – statistics of the damage or the sharing of an experience of the survivors? Legends are born after each exceptional challenge faced by the humanity and or economies. The current Covid-19 Pandemic has exposed wide range of avenues which were neglected or not given due consideration by intellectuals, planners, designers, architects, and dynamos of economic sustainability.

Lessons are being learned on a continuing basis. Some proactive industrialists have responded to their inner calling and remodelled their industries to support the victims of the pandemic, while others have redesigned their processes to support humanity and survival. “Wait and see” approach is no longer an option, however small or large an enterprise maybe! The universal factor affecting enterprises worldwide was removal of the physical presence of human element from their production lines. This created an unexpected opportunity for the development of Intellectual Properties, with heightened urgency, in pharmaceutical sectors and medical appliances. All other industries must relook and conduct comprehensive internal reviews of their respective business models. This is crucial exercise for travel, Media, International Conferences, Events (MICE), and hotel industry, which have been solely dependent on physical presence of humans to render their services. The banking and finance industry, energy and utilities sector, telcosoil & gas and marine industry have experienced such setbacks repeatedly in the history. These industries have always rebounded with more sturdy and stable new business models based on the lessons learned. Business Continuity is the founding principle of such enterprises.

How Trademark and Brand can help in reinvigorating?

The starting steps in remodelling is take stock of your core values, revisit and accumulate these into intellectual property by branding and trademark registrations. The TM and Brand then should be integral part of every product, service, or values to be delivered to your customers. Establish the value proposition before deciding the mode of delivery. This will help in preserving and enhancing distinctiveness of your enterprise to be known as delivering long lasting values and not just consumable goods and services. TM and Brand will show the survivors of the pandemic much faster than entity names and business addresses, which many will change or relocate. A TM or a Mark, is to be used first and foremost in every headline, stationary, website, media, products, processes, signages, name tags and identity of the human resource behind it. It must be consistent and reflective of the core values or distinctive enough to be associated in the memory of customers to its core values. Coca-Cola, McDonald, IBM, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Sony, Phillips, and several other well know marks and brands demonstrate resilience not by default due to long term usage, but dedication of these organizations in maintaining consistency in their respective value proposition.

 

Trademarks and Brand

In common language some may use the term Trademark and Brand interchangeably as one and same. This is incorrect assumption. TM is a registrable legal right for exclusive use by its owner. “Trademark” means any sign capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing goods or services dealt with or provided in the course of trade by a person from goods or services so dealt with or provided by any other person (Section 2(1) Trademarks Act, Singapore).

Brand is a result of marketing strategy created from customer’s perspective to enhance brand preference, brand loyalty, brand quality and brand durability. It provides an image of reliability and trust for the consumers to prefer it over others less known or unknown similar products and services. Some brands promise tangible benefits consistently in terms of durability, performance reliability and usefulness to its consumers. Other brands provide feeling of an emotional attachment or lifestyle to distinguish its consumers from others. Some brands provide consistency in taste, flavour, fragrance, looks, appearance and other distinctive feature which consumers would like to be associated with. Under a Trademark there can be several Brands for different goods or services. There are also multiple Trademarks for large enterprises. It is the choice of its owners how to ensure sustainability for long term or perpetual survival of the business entity. Brands may also include designs (Industrial Designs) which may be registered as Intellectual Property to enjoy exclusive rights and protection under Copyrights Laws.

Recent Developments in Types of Trademarks

There is no hard and fast rule of what can be registered as a Trademark. It is given a broad range of possibilities under the Trademark Laws of most of the countries. Most common practice is a visible distinctive word, catchphrase, unique letter, numerals, drawing 2D or 3D, picture, shape, colour, corporate logo, seal or a combination of these. The design of a logo may be an abstract design, stylization or simple reproduction of everyday objects or images. It is also possible to get trademark rights over common words or phrases under certain circumstances.  Many countries consider a single colour, a three‐dimensional sign (shape of a product or packaging), an audible sign (sound), an olfactory sign (scent or smell), a moving image, a hologram, a taste or a texture of a product to be a valid registrable mark.

The legal requirements for protection and exclusive use rights, are generally: trademark must be distinctive. For a mark to be considered distinctive, it should be either, inherently distinctive or would have acquired distinctiveness through its use as a mark in the marketplace, which helps it to acquire a secondary meaning as a mark.

Sometimes it is also possible to register the combination of a design (packaging), product picture, model, and an adjective statement with it to be registered as a Trademark.

Conclusion

Conduct audit of the current state of your enterprise and make an inventory of core values, designs, drawings, processes etcetera which can enhance customer value proposition. Develop Branding strategy and register Trademarks and Industrial Designs early before the economy picks up.  Remember, in some countries Intellectual Property Assets are also accounted in the Balance Sheets and Accounting Statements of the annual reports. There are number of tax benefits, grants and R & D funding opportunities from governments like in Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea promoting innovation and economic growth.