Give It Identity

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Business identity is the unique features like name, logo, and images which differentiate it from other businesses and are created by branding and marketing.  Elements of identity include:

A Brand

A brand is an identity like unique features such as name and logo usually with a positive reputation which differentiates the business from other businesses.  One of the main success factors of starting and operating a business fruitfully is branding. How to form a business should, therefore, include a word or two about branding. Elements of branding such as name and logo that should be carefully considered at the formation stage. Branding is where you burn or stamp your business name on the product and engaging in marketing activities to popularize the brand. Branding can be in two phases:

a) Creating an identity

To form a brand or identity, you create and combine the business name and things like, logo, tagline, colour schemes and letter fonts or styles to form a combined name and logo for the business which now becomes the identity of the product and the business.

  • Name: The chosen name should be catchy, brandable, extendable to include a URL, and easy to pronounce, read and write. See the section above on selection of a name.
  • Logo: The logo is formed of designs, symbols, marks, clour schemes, and letter styles. It should be unique, attention-grabbing, easy to identify, and mirror the nature of the business.
  • Colour schemes: Font (letter styles) and background colour schemes form part of the identity.
  • Tagline: This a short and catchy words that are placed beneath the logo which portray a philosophy or a promise. A central bank which has a mandate of keeping inflation in check might have a tagline like- protecting the value of your money.
  • Contacts: These are things like mailing and physical address, telephone, email, a website domain, and social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc).
  • Tax and other identification numbers for registration of the business for statutory collections and levies.
  • Bank account.

b) Project the identity

Later on, once the business is up and running, it will be necessary to protect the identity as a marketing strategy. This phase involves performing marketing activities that establish a connection in the eyes of the consumers between a thing that identifies the product such as a logo, the business’s name, or the product’s name and the product’s benefits that consumers have come to perceive and like. The first line of projection is to have all the above identity marks reflected on all stationery, uniforms, dress codes, displays, marketing materials, signs and on strategic places and surfaces around the premises including walls, furniture, fittings, equipment, tools, etc. The second part of the projection is to perform marketing activities that are aimed at bringing awareness and creating a connection between the identity and the features and benefits of the business or product so that consumers can make the association and create a trust.

Name, logos, and packaging establish the identity of the product. Quality, performance, durability, consistency of quality and performance, prestige, image, saving time and money, boosting social status, solving a problem, providing entertainment, reducing worry, etc are benefits that give a product reputation and brand status. Consumers should be able to connect these two aspects i.e. identity and benefits and that is the trick in marketing.

Patent The Business Idea

The identity of a business is protected by the use of patent laws that give protective grants over name, logo, images, and intellectual property rights and other unique creative features.

If your business idea is exclusive, original and unique, you should protect it from being used by anyone else other than you by registering a patent on it. This is an important step in how to form a business. A patent is a grant of protection rights over a creative invention. It may be that your business idea is an exclusive technology you have developed or a product with unique properties or a technique or recipe for doing something or creation of marvellous artworks. If you have such unique creations, you have got what is generally known as proprietary features or Intellectual Property (IP) and you need to protect your ideas so that only you and your estate alone can exploit them and reap the ensuing benefits. Most jurisdictions have patent laws that give protective grants in the following areas:

  1. Patents: Patents protect unique inventions of a method, process, devices, or management strategies.
  2. Copyright: Copyrights protect creations such as arts, music, drawing, or literature.
  3. Trademarks: Trademarks protect symbols and marks such as a logo, name, or slogan.
  4. Trade dresses: This is a protection granted for all the marks, symbols, colours and writings on a cover surrounding a container such as a bottle or a can.
  5. Trade secrets: Trade secrets are usually formulae or recipes used for making a product such as Coca Cola drink or KFC chicken. These are usually protected using administrative methods such as having employees sign confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete or secrecy documents.

If you come up with a great and unique economically valuable idea, all you need to do is to apply to the appropriate authority to register it and give you a rights certificate on the satisfaction of set criteria and payment of set fees which vary according to the type of IP.

Read more about all these in Guidelines: How to start and run a business.

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