In the growing world of manufacturing hemp products, the central element that most companies have control over (other than a product’s quality) is branding. Building brand awareness for a startup is a long road, but it gets even more complicated in a fast-paced industry with a regulatory landscape that changes by the minute. Every industrial hemp related brand on the planet is competing to capture customer loyalty and over time to become an oh so coveted "legacy brand." So, what’s the good news? The green rush has just begun and there is plenty of blue sky when you begin your journey with trademark registration at the center of your branding strategy.
Early sketch exploration on CBD&ME® visual identity, circa 2017.
First, in order to make a brand stand out in a cluttered category, consumers need to know more about what’s behind the product name or ingredients listed on the label. That’s where trademarks come in. Trademark registrations distinguish a product’s name, brand identity and packaging design. When this is done with authenticity, it instantly communicates to consumers THIS brand is a source of a quality goods. For some companies, trademarks may be simply a brand’s name and or logo. For others, a trademark may include a tagline or unique typography and color scheme combo that resonates with targeted customer segments. When trying to get your products to market, taking the additional step towards registration may seem like an afterthought. It shouldn’t be.
Here is why it’s worth it in a single word… equity.
Secondly, when you work hard to create something, it is worth protecting even when protection feels out of reach. Of course, this is a universal truth. But for some reason, the stigma that plagues our industry makes young companies want to cut corners and skip the long road to registration. Bad idea.
Nobody wants to sign a new distribution deal for products with a dream supplier who winds up in court over a name dispute. Even less, people think it could never happen to them and therefore don’t go through the proper steps to complete or maintain trademarks registrations. Good luck using that argument with your customers or even worse, your creditors once your product line has been yanked off the shelves.
We know from personal experience, it’s a very long road and sometimes you won’t make it all the way to the end but we at Shake believe it is always worth trying.
Evolution from ™ on left, first trade show banner to ® on right, current brand swag
Finally, because hemp has only recently become federally legal (since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill) the clock is on to register new brands with the USPTO and boy is it running. We also know that trying to find a distinctive name and logo combination that is not already taken, without using cannabis leaves as imagery, is way easier said than done. Add to this a few layers of complicated advertising restrictions (across multiple platforms) and little to no availability on critical brand building components like securing the right social handle or domain name and the result will be frustration with heartbreak not far behind. Trust us, we have been there.OR - just when you thought the end was never going to be in sight, you will overcome the hurdles and find creativity and collaborative inspiration from places you did not expect. And when you get one of these in the mail…you know that you have arrived.