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Internet Marketing

Trade Marks and Internet Marketing

Where Are You At In Your Internet Marketing Efforts? reminds us that small businesses need to understand the possibilities on the web at their own pace.

The fact that only 44% of small businesses have a website despite the well known fact that search engines are reportedly the most popular source people turn to when looking for local companies shows that there is huge potential to sell to this market.  At the same time because small businesses will only engage with the web when they are ready to do so, it is necessary to find a way to engage their interest.


The worst thing is to speak to them in the language of the web – using terms like search engine optimisation, SEO, Paid Search, or Pay Per Click advertising, for example – as I heard one speaker do recently.  These words mean nothing to small businesses who are not yet participating in internet marketing.  Many of them are wary of spending on adwords.

In fact avoiding jargon is not unique to the web.  In any discipline with its own words and language it is important to remember that those unfamiliar with the subject may have little background framework on which to hang the new knowledge you are imparting.

So, how do you communicate meaningfully, to impart valuable useful information?  Can you say something meaningful and interesting if you have to avoid the language shortcuts that jargon offers?

•    It’s easier for me to answer this question by considering trade marks which I understand well and have learned to explain to lay people in plain English.

Trade Marks

I have learned that the best way to impart valuable information while avoiding industry terminology is to focus on the benefits.  For example, people often ask me why bother with trade marks.  Do they matter at all?  To which I say that the benefit of a trade mark is that it provides a ‘container’ in which the value of a successful business’ brand is held.  Your trade mark gives you exclusive rights to use your name for your goods and services.

If the name of your business is not capable of being protected through a trade mark registration – for example because it is a word that describes what you sell, and therefore which no single trader will be allowed to own exclusively – it means that the name recognition you generate can be legitimately used by your competitors.  Therefore this diminishes the value of your brand.  So if I am known as Islington IP lawyer I can’t stop other IP lawyers using these words to attract business.

Similarly, if I find that someone else has a trade mark in the name I have been using to promote my business that means all the brand value I have generated over the years is wasted.  It clearly makes sound business sense therefore to make sure at an early stage that you have chosen a name you can own.

Internet branding

When businesses set up on the web, the received wisdom is to choose a name that is highly descriptive of the goods or services to be provided.  This has its origin in the fact that search engines reward descriptive names over brand names.  So, to use the previous example of Islington IP lawyer – search engines will give me a prominent place if my website URL is Islington IP lawyer.  Therefore a searcher keying in that phrase will get my website, whereas a name like Azrights will only appear for such a search term if we taken other steps.

For a business to trade under equivalent names to Islington IP lawyer is, in trade mark terms, like choosing a bucket full of holes to contain its brand value. Such descriptive terms have little potential for capturing brand value and are an unwise choice of trading name for the business.

I just want to leave you with a thought.  That is, whether the favouring of descriptive URLs by search engines is likely to continue in the future.  That is the subject of another blog post, but for now I just want to say that it seems to me to be a rather primitive approach.  If in future Google agrees with this view and changes its algorithm then the value of descriptive domains like which run into millions would plummet overnight.