Registering a brand is one of the options that many companies consider when they start importing products from China or other Asian countries. There are several reasons for this, although the most common is to take advantage of the benefits of branding and begin to position themselves in the minds of their target audience with a unique and exclusive name (what in marketing is called ‘top of mind’).
Despite wanting to do so, many companies (especially smaller ones) do not dare to take the step of registering their own trade name for fear that it is a complicated process and, above all, with a high initial cost, a false belief that is quite widespread.
Before moving on to this subject, it is important to point out that registering your own trademark is a good option for protecting certain property rights of what you decide to manufacture (this way you will prevent them from using your name or logo, for example). However, it should be borne in mind that in order to protect ourselves against unauthorised copies of our goods, the best option is always to register a patent, provided that the type of product allows it.
Brand or trade name?
Although they are often used as synonyms, the concepts of brand and trade name are not the same. A trademark is the symbol that identifies the product on the market, whether it is a logo or the written name of the company.
The trade name, however, is the name that the company acquires in the market, which, by the way, does not necessarily coincide with the company name (in fact, in most cases it does not).
Let us look at a clear and famous example from the video games sector:
- Trade name: Nintendo
- (任天堂株式会社, Nintendō Kabushiki-gaisha).
- Some of its trademarks: Nintendo®, Nintendo 3DS™, Nintendo Switch™, Game Boy™, Pokémon™, Super Mario™ or The Legend of Zelda™ (as we can see, many of them do not even include the brand’s trade name).
Reasons for registering your own trade mark
Beyond having one’s own name with which to be identified in the market, there are a number of reasons that lead a company to register its own trademark, especially when products are manufactured in distant countries and undergo an import process.
Most of the advantages of having one’s own trade name would fall under the description of competitive advantage. Nevertheless, let us take a closer look at some of the strengths of this decision.
Differentiate yourself from the competition
It must be clear that, nowadays, few companies sell exclusive products. Precisely for this reason, if there are dozens (or thousands!) of products like yours on the market, you must differentiate it with new features, but you must also be aware that the consumer must associate the advantages of a product with a name and/or logo.
Inevitably, unbranded products tend not to gain consumer trust (sometimes even by offering much lower prices). Seeing a brand on a product leads the consumer to associate it with easier responsiveness in case of potential problems and, in general, offers greater trust.
The creation of your own business name should not be limited to designing a logo and looking for corporate colours. If you work on a good branding strategy, in which your company grows progressively, the moment will come when the notoriety of your brand will be one of the factors that will allow you to sell products at a higher price than your competition, since the added value you offer will go far beyond a logo.
It is very difficult to build customer loyalty without your own brand name, especially because it is very likely that the consumer will not even know how to get in touch with you in the future. The logo and brand name printed both on the product and on the packaging will ensure that our company does not fall into the consumer’s oblivion.
What is the cost of registering a trademark?
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, registering a trademark is not as expensive as it is often believed. However, there are some factors that will vary its price.
Carrying out the procedure on your own (without delegating it to third party companies) is always the most economical option. For example, the cost of registering a trademark in Spain is €144 (online applications benefit from a discount on this price) and in the UK is £170 (about €197).
For companies wishing to register an EU certification mark, the cost is somewhat higher, with fees of €1,800 (reduced to €1,500 for online applications).
In the case of companies that only sell within their borders, the cheapest option is to do the procedure on your own account only for the country you are in, but do not forget that, currently, with the expansion and advantages of e-commerce, limiting sales only to your own territory can block the growth of your sales.
If, finally, you decide to register your trademark, you should bear in mind that it is not a quick process, as the waiting time is usually one year, which can be extended in some cases (due to lack of documentation) up to 20 months.
Do I have to register my trademark in China to import goods from there?
The need (or not) to register a trademark in China when importing products from the Asian Giant is a fairly common question among companies.
It should be borne in mind that what is really important is to register our trademark in the country or countries where we are going to sell our products. However, registering in China could prevent another company from doing so in our name, a risk that is unlikely for small or little-known companies.
Beyond protecting our identity, when registering our own brand, we must be sure to associate it with reliable and guaranteed products. In this sense, carrying out mandatory and voluntary quality controls, as well as having made a careful selection of suppliers will always be two of the main factors that determine the success of our import and of our brand.