{This Week’s Post is a Guest Post by Christina Scalera.  Read more about her at the end of this post!}

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Branding is one of the most fun, creative things you get to enjoy as a small business owner. Your brand is a reflection of the service and quality your customers or clients can expect from you. But I’m not here to beat a dead horse- the importance of branding is something that has been covered numerous times by designers and digital marketers far more savvy about the actual process of branding than myself. However, as an attorney who practices trademark law, it’s my job to remind you of the importance of protecting your brand… Especially once you’ve paid out what feels like a gazillion dollars for the perfect logo and brand suite!

Protecting the brand you’ve created means protecting a few things, like these:

  • Your logo and/or name.

I know, I know, “a logo is not a brand,” but it is an important component of a brand and the one thing that your consumers should be able to instantly recognize and connect to your services or products. Because your name and your logo are arguably the most important pieces of your brand puzzle, it’s essential that these are your priority when you’re looking for ways to protect your brand. This is why if you have a limited budget, a trademark registration is essential once you have a name you love and a logo that’s yours for keeps. Even if you’re still sorting out your name, a trademark attorney is the best resource to help you create a name that is likely to be registered by looking at how strong your name is compared to others in your industry.

  • Your unique selling proposition.

Your unique selling proposition, aka your USP, is what sets you apart from anyone else in your market or industry. Why will clients want to work with you over your competitors? What makes your products or services different- are they cheaper, better, more luxurious or DIY? Your USP is an essential element of your brand because it is the entirety of your brand. It’s what all of your messaging should be based around, and it’s why others in your industry will refer you to clients over and over again. For example, there is a wedding photographer in Atlanta (Jules Photography) who works with ‘alternative’ brides looking for an edgy wedding. Everyone knows when they book a bride like that, they should refer that bride to Julie. When a bride goes to Julie’s site, they are instantly attracted or repelled by Julie’s brand because Julie’s USP is to serve edgy, alternative, out-of-the-box brides. Her tagline is, “An un-traditional photographer for the bright, bold and badass.” Julie has done a fantastic job of protecting her USP by making her brand and brand message loud and clear in every photo, paragraph and price on her website, and you can do the same with whatever your USP is as well.

  • Your brand elements, such as your blog post graphic templates, photos or other distinguishing features of your brand.

In addition to your logo/name, USP and graphic materials related to the above, you also have a lot of content and brand elements worth protecting all over your site. Your blog post graphics (ya know, the thing you want everyone to pin to Pinterest) probably follows a template, your newsletter probably looks more or less the same and you may even have some flourishes that complement your logo, for example, the diagonal lines or animal print that goes with the logo of my podcast that we incorporate into every show notes page. All of these flourishes, like the ikat print in the example above, are protected by copyright law. If anyone comes out with the same or a substantially similar design to our very unique ikat print, we have the right to ask them to stop using it and/or pay us money for their illegal use. The same is true for your brand, and understanding copyright law is just one more way you can protect your brand elements, such as your unique layouts or prints.

Christina Headshot If you’ve ever complained that you love what you do but HATE the business side of things, you’re in the right spot. Christina’s mission as a lawyer for creative entrepreneurs is to help them fulfill their life’s work by creating beautiful businesses from the inside out. She provides the creative world with accessible, affordable legal solutions. Whether you need a last-minute contract template that covers your butt, a painless trademark registration or want to learn more to empower yourself to run your business well, legally speaking, Christina has you covered. Christina Scalera Law Group LLC is Christina’s law firm that provides concierge legal services to clients looking for a custom solution to their legal issues or needs. It prides itself on delivering expedient, accurate results while providing a high-end client experience. The law firm may be contacted at http://christinascalera.com.  Photo Credit:  Shelby Rae Photographs