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Business branding: five tips for starting a new company

Brand building strategies for those starting a new business from scratch.

A good brand is efficient. It conveys credibility, values and experience, and communicates them directly and simultaneously to the public. Today, brands are more important than ever before. That’s why building the right brand from the very start is so crucial.

dan winfield branding law expert

Dan Winfield of law firm Duncan Cotterill advises clients in intellectual property, trade practices and advertising law matters, with a particular focus on brand-related issues. Here, he shares his top five tips for new businesses on building a brand from scratch, and how to go about correct brand building from the get go.

Do your background research

Check as early as possible in the first stages of brand building that your brand is safe to use, says Winfield. The earlier you check, the less likely you are to waste time and money on an unusable brand further down the track. Visit the Intellectual Property Office New Zealand (IPONZ) website for more information on how to check trademarks.

Reserve your patch of cyberspace

Check and reserve the URLs and Facebook page names you might want to use as soon as you can.

“Grab them even if you haven’t decided for sure which one you want to use,” says Winfield.  

Not only could this prevent someone beating you to the punch, but also if the domain name or Facebook URL is already taken, there is a chance you may want to rethink your brand name.  

“Again, the sooner you check this, the sooner you can move forward."

Register your brand as early as possible

Register your brand as a trademark as early on as possible, says Winfield. The total cost of doing so, which he estimates to be around $1,200, is “pretty minimal” in the scheme of things. The investment will ensure it is not used by anyone else.  

Don’t become too attached to your brand

“Some people get wedded to their brand, and then they realise they can’t use it,” says Winfield.  

Winfield says he has seen people persist with a brand they know cannot be used. He says it's important not to be “too precious”, and to simply let go of a brand if you realise for whatever reason that it is unusable. Failing to do so is a waste time, energy and money that could be poured into a fresh, practical idea.

Build the right team

Winfield says one of the most important things a new business can do is get the right people involved. If you are developing a product design, get the right patent attorney. If you are trying to register a trademark, get the right trademark specialist.

“Making sure you have the right people and you’re receiving the right advice is really crucial.”