Further confirmation of Google's place in the forefront of our daily lives was confirmed with the announcement that it has achieved the top spot in the Brandz list of the Top 100 Most Powerful Brands compiled by Milward Brown. Eileen Campbell, global CEO of Milward Brown noted that Google's achievement highlights "the real financial value that successful business and brand management can deliver".
Google's success in developing and promoting its brand has been so great that it is now faced with a different challenge; that is to escape the fate that has befallen words such as Escalator, Taxi and Nylon in the past. These words were all once trade marks but it is now widely accepted that these marks now simply designate a particular product or service. These trademarks have slipped into descriptive use, a process that trademark specialists sometimes refer to as "falling into the public domain".
Why is this such a bad thing? A trade mark's value lies in its ability to allow a consumer to distinguish between the goods and services of one business from another. When other people unconnected with the business of the owner of the trade mark start using that mark, this value starts to slip away. This is referred to as a "dilution" of the brand.
You may have noticed Google Inc. appearing in the news amid concerns the trade mark significance of the mark GOOGLE is slipping away. In particular, people refer to the trade mark as a verb – saying that searching for an item on the web is to "google" it. Recently, the Meridian-Webster College announced they intended to include the word "google" in their dictionary. On the same day, the stock price of Google Inc. fell.
Keeping their core trade marks strong and avoiding dilution is a major issue for a large business such as Google Inc.. However, this is an issue for all businesses that value their branding. There are a number of key rules that may help to protect your trade marks from dilution. In particular, adherence to key branding guidelines can ensure trade marks are used correctly and in such a way that emphasises their significance as a distinctive trade mark
Say for instance you start using the trade mark TIGER to market a new type of sticky tape you have developed. You want to make sure you use your trade mark correctly to build it into a strong asset for your business. Standard guidelines to follow include:
Making sure your trade mark is displayed in capitals or title case, for example
- Incorrect: tiger
- Correct: TIGER or Tiger
in addition, the trade mark should always appear with an appropriate descriptive term, for example:
- Incorrect: Use TIGER in your home and office!
- Correct: Use TIGER sticky tape in your home and office!
Also, it is wise to ensure consistent use of the ® symbol (if your trade mark is registered) or the ™ symbol (if unregistered), for example:
- Incorrect: TIGER
- Correct: TIGER® or TIGER™
You should also make sure you avoid using your mark in a possessive form, for example:
- Incorrect: TIGER's quality
- Correct: The quality of TIGER sticky tape
These examples are only an indication. There are other guidelines and techniques for making sure your trade mark stays strong. It is a good idea to ask for advice specific to your business to make sure the value of your trade mark does not slip away.