Creating, building and protecting a brand are essential to successfully marketing a backpacker/tourism business. But what about the legal side? The better the legal protection, the more valuable the brand.“Branding” originally meant to burn a mark with a hot iron, such as upon a steer’s hide. The mark the branding iron burned could be a name or a logo. So first, create a distinctive name or logo.
The best brands have a name containing a distinctive word, often counter-posed with a descriptive word.
For example, to brand a hostel, a distinctive word such as ‘seagull’ (or a place name) might be combined with the descriptive word ‘backpackers’ to create a brand, ‘Seagull Backpackers’. Think of all the brands that marketing genius Sir Richard Branson has created with the distinctive word Virgin.
The first level of legal protection is gained by registering the name as a company name in Australia. Think Seagull Backpackers Pty Limited, which has Australia-wide protection, in contrast to a name which has protection only in the states where it is registered. Once registered, no-one can register an identical name, though similar names are allowed.
The second level of protection is to register a domain name – and to maintain a website. Think www.seagullbackpackers.com.au
The third level of protection is to register a trademark, which is the name, and often, a distinctive logo. Every time you see the letters TM at the end of a name or logo, you are looking at a registered trademark. The name is written in a distinctive typeface (think of Virgin) which is then used religiously on everything – signs, websites, T-shirts etc.
The cost is about the same as registering a company, but the great advantage of a registered trademark is it provides a good platform for challenging anyone who starts to use the same or a similar name or logo.
Once all that’s done, it’s now over to you to build the brand.
Australian travel and tourism lawyer Anthony Cordato contributes a regular column to Backpacker Trade News. Got a question for Anthony? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tourismlegal.com.au.