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A Cautionary Tale About Rebranding

By November 13, 2023January 4th, 2024No Comments

A Cautionary Tale About Rebranding


Commercial Insight


November 13, 2023
The read
In today’s fast-paced world, the concept of brand revitalisation has never been more crucial. Just look at the recent headlines, and you’ll find stories of iconic brands like Nationwide and Twitter/X undergoing makeovers to stay relevant in the ever-shifting landscape of consumer tastes. It’s a testament to the power of adaptation and the enduring allure of a great brand.
It’s not unusual however for a business to get excited about the aesthetics of rebranding and neglect the legal fundamentals that keep that brand safe.

A well-crafted brand has the potential to do much more than merely sell products. It can forge deep connections with customers, attract top-tier talent, and even entice investors. In essence, a brand is the heart and soul of a business and keeping it in sync with the rhythm of contemporary culture is a constant challenge.

Effective rebrands often go unnoticed by the general audience. They seamlessly adapt to the changing times, making it seem as if they were always that way. However, there’s a cautionary tale hidden beneath the surface of a successful rebrand. It’s not just about the fancy new logo; there’s a checklist of essential tasks that must follow to ensure that the new brand is protected and builds and maintains its value.

A check-list for re-branding

  • Before using a new brand searches must be carried out to ensure the brand is available for use without infringing anyone else’s rights – trade mark searches and desk top research are essential.
  • Brand owners undergoing brand transformation must ensure that existing trademark registrations are up-to-date and accurately reflect the brand’s current and proposed usage. Neglecting this crucial step can leave the brand vulnerable to legal challenges, and old registrations may not offer any protection for the updated version. It may be that new applications are required.
  • Has the market changed? It may be necessary to extend current protection into new geographical areas and some current protection may no longer be required.
  • Has the portfolio of goods and services that are to be sold under the brand changed? If trade mark registrations are in place then the goods and services they cover should be reviewed to ensure they reflect the brand owner’s areas of interest.
  • Ownership of externally created or freelance brand assets is another critical consideration. Building goodwill in your brand and using it without restriction requires having clear ownership and control over all brand elements. IP assignments should be agreed before any external work is undertaken.
  • Brand owners tend to focus on trademark protection alone, but it is worthwhile also exploring the option of obtaining a registration for any proprietary designs such as logos and icons. This must be pursued within 12 months of releasing the design to the public, making it a time-sensitive decision that should be addressed as soon as the design direction is settled upon.
  • Design documents and records should be dated and stored securely. These will attract copyright protection automatically and should bear a copyright notice e.g. © BRANDOWNER 2023 so that others are aware of your rights.
  • If you are planning a ‘big brand reveal’ then confidentiality is a must. Everyone involved in the process, particularly external agencies, must be subject to non-disclosure obligations.

The world of branding is a dynamic one, where often adaptation and reinvention are the keys to survival and success. Nationwide and Twitter/X, along with many other brands, have recognised this and embarked on journeys of revitalisation. They understand that a brand is not merely a logo or a word but a living entity that must evolve to stay relevant and continue to connect with its audience.

If you’re contemplating a brand makeover, remember that it’s not just about the new look; it’s about the strategic steps that follow to ensure the value of your brand is properly protected.