If you read the post, Protect Your Offering, this one is in a similar vain. Once you’ve created your product or service its time to build a moat around it. In the other article, its all about going deep. You create your niche, specialize, and your customers love you for that.
Now you are starting to turn heads, and another business is looking to either replicate you, or buy you. They’ll do whichever is easiest.
That is where this article comes in: branding vs patenting (or trademark/copyright).
There are two general strategies to protecting your offering after you’ve built out your niche. You can legally protect them through a trademark, copyright, or a patent. Sometimes this is an easy way to go, sometimes it’s a long and expensive process.
The other way is branding. Now, to position these as an either/or would be silly. If you build a brand you’ll need to trademark it, the logos, etc…
Building a brand that stands out and convinces buyers that you are offering something unique is very important. If you think about your favorite brand, something sticks out for you. Perhaps quality, fast service, or more likely, solving a very specific problem. Once your brand gets recognized for that, customers flock to you when they have the corresponding problem – because you are offering something unique.
Wrapping your product in a powerful brand makes your company more difficult to imitate
and therefore more valuable to a buyer looking to enter your space. It also protects you from an acquirer just replicating your company.
A major challenge service company founders run into, is that they end up developing a personal brand in the absence of a more meaningful brand.
Homework: You may be years away from selling, or never intend to sell, but make a list of potential acquirers. When you have a major strategic decision to make, factor in how that might impact how they see your company.