A Case Study In Successful Rebranding
When Dr Elizabeth Kirk, Beyond Ergo decided to rebrand her specialised ergonomic business, she consulted with Seriously Trademarks (now merged with Baxter IP) for assistance with trademarking her new name.
What Dr Kirk discovered was that her chosen name wasn’t an ideal representation of her business, and rebranding was more involved than simply choosing a new name.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing a Name
There are a few rules to follow when choosing a new business name, and the fact that it’s available as a trading name doesn’t mean it’s possible to trademark it. It is important to note that even though a name can be trademarked, one must check if there is an existing business with that name in Australia. The reason for this is you do not want to ‘rebrand’ with a name that is already existing.
A brand name should be unique, and not a copy of someone else’s business. This is both to help a business stand out from the rest and to prevent any legal repercussions which might arise from appearing to mimic another existing business.
For a brand name to be successfully trademarked, it is best to avoid using the following when coming up with a business, product or services name for a brand:
- Personal names, both first and last names (Michelle, Smith, Jones)
- Geographic locations here and overseas (St Kilda, Sydney, Auckland)
- Descriptive terms within an industry.
When choosing a new brand, it is essential to ensure domain names are actually available, including .com, .com.au, .net, or .org if applicable. It’s important to secure the domain names, for the purposes of expanding the business and to reduce the risk of confusion when consumers conduct an internet search.
As well as obtaining a domain name, it’s worth investing in a graphic designer for the creation of a distinctive logo. Having a professionally designed logo can really bring a business to life and ensures a unique image which is less likely to be challenged when trademarking. Ensure copyright is assigned to your company when a logo is created, if not, the graphics designer will continue to own the copyright to your logo even though you had commissioned the logo to be created.
The trademarking process takes up to eight months in Australia, therefore once a name is created and agreed upon, the trade mark should be applied for immediately to ensure ‘first to file’ and ‘first to use’. This position is ideal as there will be no debate in the future on who is the rightful owner.
Dr. Kirk’s original brand was Practical Ergonomics. This brand provided consultancy and training services for occupational health and safety. Prior to engaging Seriously Trademarks, Dr. Kirk had decided to rebrand Practical Ergonomics to Get Comfortable, and was seeking to trademark the new name.
During the trademark research process, it was discovered that the majority of the trade mark applications on the trade mark database for “comfortable” were for bed mattresses and furniture. As her business specialised in office ergonomics, this wasn’t an ideal choice as the brand could be misrepresented as being a furniture company.
As a branding expert with trademark expertise, I requested permission to test the new name with HR (Human Resources) Managers within their contact sphere, who were key in engaging Dr. Kirk’s consulting services in ergonomics. The feedback from HR Managers, was that the word “comfortable” was a clever name for ergonomics but did not sit well with them as it suggested a degree of apathy. The HR managers indicated that they wanted to encourage their employees to do their best and being comfortable gave the impression of disinterest and settling for the status quo.
This is a good example of how a descriptive term may be misconstrued. While “Get Comfortable” was applicable to the service provided in ergonomics, it didn’t resonate with her target clients, who are key to growing and developing her business.
It was important that the chosen name for Dr. Kirk’s business had some indication of what she offered. The original name, Practical Ergonomics, emphasised the need to manage discomfort, injury and illness associated with office-based work. However, as it was descriptive it could not be trademarked within her industry, and anyone could have promoted ‘Practical Ergonomics’ as their business name.
Based on marketing research and feedback from her target market, the name “Beyond Ergo” was chosen. This new name reflects everything connected with ergonomics and beyond. “Beyond Ergo” is unique, recognisable by the target market, and easily connected with the correct industry – and not mattresses! Ergo is not a descriptive name within the ergonomics industry.
Although Dr. Kirk started out wanting to trademark “Get Comfortable”, she was open to feedback and spent more time working on the creation of her new brand name. A well-researched and chosen brand name can make a huge difference to the outreach of a business.
Dr. Kirk is one of the leading researchers and trainers in Australia for office ergonomics, and her business rebranding has helped reflect her expertise and professional standing within the industry.