Friday, March 31, 2006

In a world where many products are produced, manufactured, distributed, marketed and sold each day between cities, countries and continents, it is important for brand owners to have good brand names for their products and services.  A good brand name must identify the brand owner and distinguish the particular product from other identical or similar products.  For example, a bag branded with the name GUCCI is clearly distinguishable from other bags and the powerful reputation behind this brand name is a distinguishing feature in the market place.  Today, consumers simply do not have the time to gain in-depth knowledge about products that they buy or service providers that they consult. As a result, they rely on brand names to identify and distinguish products and services from each other.  A good brand name will carry with it a promise of quality and this in itself also serves to distinguish as consumers are willing to pay for products and services of quality.  When adopting a new brand name one should avoid choosing a name that is purely descriptive.  A word that is descriptive of a particular product or service will, in most circumstances, not be capable of monopolisation.  Using a brand name correctly is also of utmost importance.  Everyday words such as gramophone, aspirin, linoleum and escalator were once valuable trade marks.  However, incorrect use of the marks resulted in them becoming the accepted English words describing these articles and they have lost their ability to distinguish.  Avoid using a brand name as a proper noun or verb, rather use the brand name as an adjective.  A good brand name will provide the brand owner with a valuable asset that is directly linked to the creation of profits.  It is therefore very important to ensure that a brand name is properly protected and registered in terms of our law.  Registered rights in a brand name will also entitle the brand owner to an infringement remedy which is not available to owners of unregistered brand names.  In essence, a good brand name is defined by being distinguishable; of good quality; and having a good reputation.  Maintaining the reputation in a good brand name is a key objective of almost all brand owners in today’s business world.  Brand owners need to be proactive and dedicated to ensuring that their brand names are not used inappropriately or without proper authorisation.  This will ensure that the selling power of the brand name is enhanced and the quality of the product or service is guaranteed.  Consumers will then remain loyal to the brand and this goodwill will naturally translate into increased revenue for the brand owner.         
Linda Mtshali
Bowman Gilfillan Inc.