Somi Arian interviews Shireen
This interview of Shireen by Somi Arian was initially recorded for the Somi Arian podcast.
In this episode, we talk about the do’s and don’t of branding and trade marks. There are a host of useful tips on branding, trademark protection and how to develop brand equity.
This episode covers:
- Valuable tips on branding and trademark protection
- Brand equity and how trademarks contain the value of a brand.
- How to choose a name
- Domain names and email deliverability.
- Different types of name.
- Brand identifiers logo, symbol, and colours
LinkedIn: Somi Arian
Brand Tuned Scorecard
Brand Tuned Accelerator
Somi Arian: Hello, I'm Somi Arian. I'm the founder of the Think Tank for Women in Business & Technology and the FemPeak platform with the mission of raising women socio-economic status. When I was launching FemPeak, I had so many questions about branding, trademarks, and IP, it was really overwhelming. The truth is that your trademarks can easily be the most valuable assets of your business, as you will hear it from our guests today. There are companies that get more money for their name and trademarks than all of their other assets combined when they are selling. Shireen Smith was our trademark and IP lawyer and consultant when I was starting the company. And she's written a great book, which is called Brand Tuned that I think every entrepreneur should read. In this interview, I've tried to cover some of the most important topics around branding and trademarks with Shireen to help you get a good sense of what you need to know. So, with that in mind, here's my conversation with Shireen Smith.
I remember, you know, when I started working on FemPeak, it was quite interesting, because in the beginning, it was a FemPeak, right? If you remember, we started with FamTalent, right? And it was quite hard to come up with a name, and people always have opinions, you know, they're like, oh why did you not choose this? Why did you choose that? You know, and it's so hard to find something that everybody's happy with. So ultimately, you at some point, you have to say, okay, enough is enough, I just need to find the name, and yeah, and go with the flow. So, tell me a little bit about your experience over the time over time, over the past few years, as you've been working with various clients, what is people's process usually? you know, how do they come up with a name for their business? And then where some of the places where they may be wrong, you know, what could it be that they could have known before, making that choice that would have made their lives easier.
Shireen Smith: Well, I think often people don't realize that they can't choose any name they like, but it has to be a name that's actually available to use, and that involves really doing some searches of the trademark registers, that's one common mistake and it's not at all unusual to find that the name people come in with isn't something that they can have. So, it's unfortunate often a good strategy is to use your own name. So, I didn't mention it to you, but if you do use Semi-Orion, for example, that can often be a good strategy as a brand name. So, Mars, for example, the chocolate people, they started out with founder’s name and then as they had other products like Skittles, and M&M and Milky Way, they added new product names. So that can be an easier strategy, but really, it's there's no shortcuts for choosing a name that is resonates with you, primarily, and also with the audience. So, I don't tend to names for people, because I find it's easier to just advise them about what they can do and then they choose their own name.
Somi Arian: But, of course, in many cases is not appropriate to use your own name. Like say, for example, if I'm building a platform for Women in Business and Technology, it's going to be a platform that is going to have to be bigger than me, like even now. For example, on FemPeak, we have sherpanies. We have six sherpanies, I'm one of the sherpanies, even though I'm the founder, but I'm one of the sherpanies and then we're gonna have Ranamas you know, and let's say okay, at depending on the type of business that it is, okay, so choosing your own name, or using your own name, say Somi Arian, using your own name is, is one strategy. What else? Where does one begin? For example, I went to websites where they have these AI generated, you know, options where you can put in, you know, some letters, some name them for the AI to start with, and then you would be able to maybe put in some criteria categories of I found interesting enough in some of these where I put for example, women, and then I put tech, but it would give me something to do with beauty. I was like, I didn't mention beauty, where did this come from right? like that I'm going to show the bias, right? just because it was the women or female. And a lot of the name sounded like the name of maybe a sanitary product, you know, like they I think that there's the AI bias, right? That for the type of names that are used in anything that is in has a connotation of female, you know. So, there's, they're all of those, right? So yeah, so what are some of the other strategies.
Shireen Smith: It depends really on the type of name. So, you can have made up names like Google or Microsoft, you find some way of putting elements together, and producing a nice sounding name, that means something to you, but is perhaps totally made up. Or you can have a descriptive name in the sense that you want to suggest what it is you're doing, which is what you were after. And those names are quite difficult, because you don't want to be too close to describing what it is, and on the other hand, you know, it needs to be available and suggest the category. So good choices of things like Toys“R”Us, Deliver Rule, Hotel Chocolat. So those sorts of names, which is the type you went for. The thing is, for some businesses, that isn't a good approach, if you're choosing a name, that has to be available internationally for a lot of different products and services, like something like Zumba, then you do need a very unique name. Otherwise, it's quite difficult to find availability. Or what would happen is that you have to trade in different countries under different names, which can get very complicated. You know, like, Burger King was Hungry Jacks in Australia for a long time. And then now they've got the name, but because of all the brand equity they've created in Hungry Jacks, they've left it as Hungry Jacks. So, it's really got to be a name that's available internationally. And that's the difficulty if you're only looking in the UK is much easier.
Somi Arian: So, this is interesting. Okay, so we have three categories. So far, we have made up names, suggestive names, which is similar to FemPeak, right? Then your own name. Are there any other categories we need to.
Shireen Smith: Well, people choose acronyms, but then often a very poor choice of name. And the acronyms that are very successful, are usually businesses that have chosen descriptive names that aren't capable of registering as trademarks. So when they come to trademarking, they choose acronyms. So, like HSBC, BT, all these very well known acronym names only came about because initially, they couldn't have registered those descriptive names. And the point with acronyms is that these successful businesses have poured hundreds of 1000s of millions of dollars into their brands. So that's why those acronyms alone. But usually, it's much better to have a made-up name than an acronym, which means something to people because they might choose a name, like I don't know, Business Networking International, that was a descriptive name, it means something to them, and then they can turn it into BNI or whatever. But it's not a good approach, generally, for finding a good name, because that long descriptor doesn't necessarily mean something to other people when they see the initials. There's also the other problem that some people may already earned the acronym So, for example, the Worldwide Fund, they when they turned to WWF, they had a clash with the World Wrestling Federation. So, they both wanted WWF and they had trademark disputes for years without until the wrestling federation turned to WWE.
Somi Arian: So, we are made up name’s suggestive names, your own name, acronyms.
Shireen Smith: So yeah, really. It's finding names that already mean something so an adjective for example, like Apple, Shell, just a word that you like that you can turn into a brand name for you. That's often a strategy, which usually means something about the business. but it doesn't need to, you can just choose a name that you like it can be a Greek Goddess, anything really, as long as it's legally available.
Somi Arian: Okay, so actually, you've written a book recently. So, tell me about and what do you cover in the book? Is it going to be? I mean, I know because I've written foreword for it. But before our audience, do you want to tell people what you cover in the book, so what they can expect to learn from it.
Shireen Smith: Yeah, it's called Brand Tuned the New Rules of Branding Strategy and Intellectual Property. It really covers what's involved to create a brand, from a legal point of view, the issues that have implications from an intellectual property perspective, are the brand name and any identifiers by which the public or consumers would recognize you. So that can be the logo, any music, characters, symbols. Those are essentially what the brand is all about. The brand equity that you build, as you become more and more successful, is contained in its trademarks. So, you need to make sure you can own these elements. So recently, when the Arcadia group went into administration, they were bought, the brands were bought by ASOS who didn't buy any of the high street shops, but they paid 295 million for a few brand names effectively Miss Selfridge, Topshop, Topman, and that is essentially and that 30 million was for stock, but all that value was just for the brand name.
Somi Arian: Wow, that is so eye opening, that's so amazing. So, the fact that they paid more for the brand name, than for the actual stock? Yeah, yeah amazing. So that's why it's so important, right? So, I was actually going to ask you like, why is it that why would you say a trademark is important and how does it impact the value of a brand, but this really answers that right?
Shireen Smith: You see, as people get to know your brand, they will have certain associations, you need to try and control that. So, by having a position choosing to say three or four, the fewer the better names or concepts that you want your brand to own. So that in all your communications you convey that, and your hope is that consumers will also have those associations to the brand name, but whatever they associate with the brand name, that's where the value lies and that's what you know motivates people to buy one item of clothing rather than another for example.
Somi Arian: So, when you say a few so it could be more than one so let's say for example, we have FemPeak and then we have Sherpanies, and we have Ranamas like those are all brand names right? Essentially Is that how you mean?
Shireen Smith: No, I mean more how you going to be different differentiated from others who might provide a platform like this so what do you want people to associate with your brand? So it's about identifying what people actually want a brand like yours to cook to convey and also having something that you are uniquely well placed to provide you know, it takes a few years but at some point, you should do some sort of survey to get an idea of how much awareness you've created in the market what people associated with you and you know to try and control that if you like by owning one or two adjectives if you like.
Somi Arian: So, you mean like for example FemPeak is anonymous with so and so.
Shireen Smith: Anonymous with say finance for females, I don't know you know, female talent, whatever concepts you decide you want only your brand to be identified with.
Somi Arian: Okay, so for you for example, if somebody was running at a completely different target brand, you let's say if it was like a clothing brand, or a technology brand, you know, it like say for example, let's talk about these shoes because I'm obsessed with shoes. So, okay, Louboutin, okay, everybody knows because of the red thing at the bottom, right? the sole. So, when I look at that a Prada, Jimmy Choo. Yeah, like to me, they all look the same. Like there is no differentiation. So how did they go about creating those differentiation? And what happens if somebody now new comes into the market?
Shireen Smith: Yeah, well, exactly. You see the Ehrenberg Bass Institute who do some research into how brands grow, and how brands are recognized. They actually identified that for bigger brands anyway, people don't actually differentiate between them. So, it's your distinctive assets, your name, your logo, your colors, those are how people distinguish one brand from another, and choose it and prefer it. So, they may not know what it is that's different about you. But they just recognize you know that they like your clothes, or whatever it is, and gravitate towards you. So, these identifiers, are really important, because you can actually protect them, you can stop competitors, copying them, provided you legally protect them and take the right steps. But with differentiation, there's nothing you can do if somebody copies your positioning copies, your business model or whatever, there's nothing you can do about that. So really, the focus has to be on being uniquely identified, as you know, being distinctive, and you need three or four brand codes by which you're always going to be recognized, you know, colors and symbols are quite good to have because they can be associated with the brand.
Somi Arian: That's so interesting, because it's kind of like in the role of computers, right? Like, people say, oh, smartphones, like people say to me, oh this computer has got these incredible features, right? Or the this phone has got these great features, I don't care. It's not Apple, I only use Apple, because I because I've bought into the ecosystem, right? And I like, you know, Steve Jobs and the whole story, and it's like, now I've bought into it. And I know, sometimes I know they're taking the piss and like it, you know, that is just way too expensive. And, but like, I've gotten into the ecosystem now, and on the whole, I get more out of it, than if I had to leave, right and come out and go to something else.
Shireen Smith: They make everything so easy to use, I think they've really focused on design. So other people can also create equally beautiful designs and easy to use platforms. But once you know that Apple does that, then you know, you're already going to get it up or you may not be aware of what other people are providing.
Somi Arian: So, do you think that let's say for example, I was a good exam, so it wasn't a name. I remember when we were talking about Fem Talent and FemPeak, you know, I remember, like, we had like a ton of names that we were trying to see which one to go for, and you mentioned to me that ultimately, the name can be anything and then you inject meaning into it. Right? And I suppose Apple is a great example of like Microsoft, do, you could look at it as on the one hand, you could say, okay, there's the micro, and then there's a software, right? but another way of looking at it, it's like soft, and it's like micro, like, you know what I mean? Like, like, it's small, and it's like, so I think that if people wanted to, and I got so many similar kinds of things around FemPeak, Fem Talent all of those, you know, like people were like, like fat and like, you know, there's a Fem and a Peak and you're like, you know, they just quit. And I and you mentioned that eventually it comes down to what meaning you inject into it. Who would have thought Apple would become Apple, right? Like it's just the name of the fruit, and it's not even a whole apple is gonna bite it.
Shireen Smith: You don't really even think of that it's a food is just a name now isn't as it's become known. Apparently, Steve Jobs chose that when he was walking through an orchard and thought it would be a good name. But it's not the best type of name in terms of protectability. So, I know name like Google is completely unique and distinct. So, if somebody registers a domain name that anything Google in it, let's go Google, and Google would be able to get those domain names back from whoever is has bought it. Because they would have no reason to own a domain with their name in it. Whereas when it's something like Apple, then you know, somebody could have the domain because they're selling Apple. It's more from a brand protection point of view, the more distinct the name is, the easier it is to protect.
Somi Arian: Yeah, and I suppose when Apple there that was like earlier days of the Internet, right, and it was in like, now, it's so hard. I remember, there was a time where you could find anything in.com. Now, you almost cannot find anything. in.com. Right. Like, it's really impossible.
Shireen Smith: The.com nowadays, and I think some people think it is necessary.
Somi Arian: But you know, I have to say, so I remember we had this conversation I mentioned to you about FemPeak. First of all, let's let's address one thing, this is, in my experience, what happens is when you search something, even if it is available, then if you don't buy it right away, then you go in next week, and it might not be available. It feels like when people search something there are I mean, I don't know.
Somi Arian: When you search it, it seems like it because I swear, I went and checked FemPeak.com, and it was available, and then when I went back to it, it wasn't available. So, I bought FemPeak.ai and then later on, I had to place a bit, and I had to pay quite a lot of money to get FemPeak.com. You know, I but because at that time, I was like, okay, we just need to get started, right. So, I went with FemPeak.ai. And of course, because technology was a big part of what we were doing. Yeah, and then I wanted to ask you about, I understand that the.com is not necessarily from a branding point of view, maybe not that important. But from a delivery of emails perspective, I have noticed that there is a difference. Like for example, we have somiarian.com, somidasharian.com, we have somiarian.co, somiariane.org, you know, and we've tried all of these, because we do this massive campaign for our outreach campaign for asking people if they are interested in joining. And by the way, while we are added, I'm going to address why we're doing it that way. Because it's very, very hard for us to advertise. Even if we have the money and we want to advertise, for example, Facebook doesn't approve our advertising. If you're directly advertising FemPeak, because it says socio economic status, we're raising them or socioeconomic status, they associated with political, social, you know, and then they want us to sign a declaration to say that this is a political or social move or enterprise, which is not right. Like this is this is simply a platform for women in business and technology. So, this is one of the reasons why we are doing the kind of outreach that we are doing. But we have noticed that anything with.com there are a few things that tend to deliver better. For example, I've noticed .org was having some problems or .co was having some problems. Yeah, it's a little bit of a chicken and egg. But try and you know, do you buy all of those into try and you try it or not, but it seems like .com It has the best delivery of emails.
Shireen Smith: That’s very interesting. People also buy .net I think in the time when everyone felt you had to have a .com if they couldn't get the .com, then the .net was the next one that they would get. I assume that deliverability of emails for that would be quite good as well.
Somi Arian: I haven't tested that one. I did test a whole bunch of other things. But yeah, could be could be possible and definitely worth trying. Yeah. Okay, now let's talk a little bit about some, something a bit more technical. So, from my experience when we were doing the trademarks for FemPeak, we had to file six different classes. Can you explain a little bit about what these classes are, you know, somebody listening to this, they're, you know, an entrepreneur and they want to maybe register their trademark. What can you say about those classes and how do you identify them?
Shireen Smith: Well, basically names can only be monopolized, if you like for a particular business purpose. So, you need to identify why you’re using a name, and then get the categories that cover what it is you're doing. And it's very easy to search, there's class TM, if people Google that it leads to the EU IPOs website, where you can just put a description in, and it will bring up the classes that are relevant to it. So, you put recruitment in, and then it will bring up say, class 35 from any other class. So, you know that that's one of the descriptions you need. Basically, names can be shared, so, a company like a name like Polo is owned by three different entities, because they are not confused with one another. They exist in different categories. So, one is confectionery one is in cars, and one is clothes, Ralph Lauren's polo shirts. So that's how it works is that you need to carve out your rights on to your territorial claim if you like.
Somi Arian: So, I'm doing need to also trademark other brand elements like logos and symbols and things like that. For example, in our case, I remember asking you about Sherpani and Ranamas you know these terms.
Shireen Smith: Yeah well, once you settle on a logo, and I would be really careful before you decide this is the logo, because I don't think you should ever change your logo after that. A lot of designer’s think with logos and it impacts people's memorability of the brand, but also impacts all your trademarks. Because once you register a logo as a trademark, which you should, you know, as soon as changes are made to it, that means you've got to change all the registrations otherwise, it could invalidate your registration even down the line. So, it gets very costly to make changes. With some brand elements like colors, you can't own them straight away, they have to become uniquely associated with your brand for you to them and be able to own them, I just I must mention, actually Coca Cola, because they were being copied right left and center. When they decided that they needed a bottle that even illiterate people would be able to tell that this is a Coca Cola bottle. So, they had a bottle designed for them. And then they actually had a strategy to getting a trademark for it. They registered it as a design, which then gave them some legal protection to be able to stop anyone else using that bottle shape. And then after about 14 years of advertising promoting, so that people would associate that bottle shape with the brand. That's when they could get a trademark. And the value of a trademark is that it lasts forever, potentially as long as you renew it and use the trademark. Whereas with a design registration, it has a very limited life. So, you can only renew up to 25 years.
Somi Arian: So, a few lessons we learned today, trademarks last forever.
Shireen Smith: Provide you to renew them. So, they run out after 10 years, but you provided you renew, you can renew it for 200 years or more.
Somi Arian: Okay, and that potentially, your brand name could be more valuable than any asset that you own in the brand.
Shireen Smith: We'll also these identifiers that you develop gradually, like for example, a logo, right depends what the logo is, but a symbol color, whatever. You should choose them to be as different as possible to what is out there that competitors are using. People often say that you need to have meaning. But that's how you end up all having the same sort of color in an industry. What you want is to be standing out be different so that you can also have stand a chance of getting a trademark for that color eventually.
Somi Arian: Yeah, but because but the issue with the colors is that there is only so many colors, right? Like it's so difficult. And for example, I remember when I was thinking about colors for FemPeak people were like okay, usually if you wanted to be quite professional, you go with blue you know blue is a color, So I was like, okay, but then that's LinkedIn, you know, then they're like, oh, but pink is to female. Well, it is a female. And then people were like, no, but pink is too much like, you know, to associated with like Barbie Style. So eventually, I just sort of went with, I said, Look, we're gonna go with a combination of pastel colors, because it is very calming. And we will have elements of both pink and blue. Because then and then that way, we will have addressed both of those. But there are only so many colors, right? And it's, it's so hard. So, do you have any suggestion as to where do people start? When going for colors?
Shireen Smith: Well, it's to have a look what competitors are using, and as I say, be as different as possible, you don't have to use blue and pink, for example, you could use certain shade of yellow or any color, really, you could go for black and white. So, the thing is to see what there is in your industry, and how can you.
Somi Arian: the way I looked at it, in the end, I was like, I'm going to actually my favorite color is yellow, like the yellow that I'm wearing maybe a bit more mustard do like a bit, a dash of like, maybe orange into it. But I do really like pastel colors because I find them so calming. And I think like we are in this role of social media. No, like, everything is so loud. And I just wanted to kind of convey a sense of calm, especially when we are talking about technology and finance, you know, like I didn't want it to be like too much in, in your face, because the content is already you know, it's like, quite strong. And so far, we have had very, very good feedback from people from the design, except for some people in the beginning, maybe we had a little bit more pink. And some people were like, oh, there's too much pink. But we've addressed that now we have got more shades of kind of purple. But yeah, it is it's like a science and an art, and in the end, I would personally say and I wonder whether you agree with that. Personally, I would say in the end is going to be something that you enjoy going into that like you personally, as a founder, you know, as the founding team, you love it, you know that you every day you go into it. And you you're like, this is pleasing to my eye, you know, every time I go, like we've got so many good. So, so much good feedback on this design of the woman turns her ahead, you know, and ultimately is going to be something that you like and like you go in and do I enjoy this UI, if you don't enjoy it, then.
Shireen Smith: Well also, the purpose of it is to make you noticeable, doesn't necessarily need to be in your face, but it's how buyers or people looking in their feeds notice things. So, you need to think about that. And really ultimately about not changing it once you settle on something and you're still very early days. But once you identify what is going to be for permanently, you will get bored with it. And that's when it's a bad idea to change.
Somi Arian: To change it. Yes. yeah, actually, I remember one of our shipments was like, like, I'm getting tired of this woman, every time I go in, I'm seeing the same picture of the war. I was like, no, it's working people like it, you know, like, let's not change. But I think we are going to make some changes, but I've kept that in there for now at least a year.
Shireen Smith: Anything else? Because often is quite good to use a symbol of some sort or character. Are you using anything?
Somi Arian: What do you mean by that? By this? Obviously, we have the logo, which is like,
Shireen Smith: What is the logo? More than the name with now?
Somi Arian: No, no, it's, uh, let me share my screen with you. For people who are watching on YouTube, at least I can see.
Shireen Smith: I saw the one at the very beginning that you had, right.
Somi Arian: So, this is this is the logo, right? Because it's like the peak right and it's the mountain but and also because we have Sherpani and we have Ranamas, you know the like, it's about, we're using the mountain climbing metaphor. We're using the mountain climbing metaphor for everything we're doing and as we bring in more collaborators, we're using like your Sherpani, help you get to the top of Mount Everest, Ranamas help you get to the top of say mount Alborz Damavand, things like that. So, so we are going to bring in more. I think, you know, I've been reading more and more about mountain mountaineering, and I think It's a really good metaphor for what we are trying to do.
Shireen Smith: Yes, it is. So that for example, you should protect it the logo. But ultimately, you see brands like Nike that have become have become known with the swoosh, it's after years and years of using the swoosh with the name, but also a lot of promotion. That means the swoosh on its own has become famous, and that's what you might be able to achieve ultimately, with that symbol of yours. You need to keep using it, bring it into your, you know, marketing, the way you design different places, you know, so you must have a distinct look by using certain codes that include your logo, and that symbol. And maybe you'll come up with others, but then you get a very distinct look that will be used in different ways. But those elements might be present. And that's how they will then become very valuable IP. And you should definitely protect those as well.
Somi Arian: Okay, awesome. Okay, so last question, let's talk about timing. So, at what point should want, again, you know, a bit of a chicken and egg, right, sometimes, like you start something, and maybe in the beginning, you don't have a lot of money. And it's not cheap to do all these trademarks in so many different countries, right? So, at what point should you say, okay I need to really put money behind. So if you're at a place where you have to go to you have a small pile of money, and you have to decide, am I going to go raise investment, you know, I need somebody to help me with getting ready, investor ready, you know, and then you're like, okay now I have to also protect my IP, and maybe your brand hasn't even fully evolved to a point that you know for sure, what is worth protecting, right? Where there has been times where you maybe come up with something and you're protected, right? And then you go to investors and then they say, ah, like, are you really settled on the name, you know, do not consider this and that right? And then by that time is maybe late. So, what comes first trading or other elements?
Shireen Smith: Well, I often advise people to go with a temporary name. In the early days when they're trialing the concept trying to get something off the ground if that could work for them. If you use a name that you're not particularly in love with, and it's okay for you to rebrand, then you don't need to really bother with trademarking in those very early days. But as soon as you have a name that you want to be identified with, then trademarks is like a cost of being in business, it should be one of the first things you do. There was this business that set up around the same time as Amazon, they were called Amazon network. They were a professional services type of business, and Amazon set up around the same time selling books. But the Amazon networks didn't register their trademark, they could have both coexisted, because they had different classes. They didn't, you know, they weren't doing competing stuff. But by 2005, Amazon got wind of, and they receive cease and desist letters, and they had to rebrand, and they went bust actually. The thing is, it's so easy, so cheap to actually register a trademark, it's compared to the costs of actually litigation, It's very cheap. And if a big brand likes the name you're using, and once you use it, they would buy you out if you have a trademark. Whereas if you're just using a name and relying on unregistered trademark rights, you know, they'll just completely ignore you because they know that you'd have to be able to afford litigation to defend yourself and you're not going to be able to do that. So really, for small businesses, it's actually more important to protect what you've got, because we know it's relatively cheap to do, especially just within your own country, never mind internationally, and so much more cost-effective than litigation.
Somi Arian: Okay, I know so final question, but one more question. So should people go to someone like you to help them with these things, or should they just go online and do it themselves? You know, I'm the kind of person that I tend to not do DIY, you know, I'm like unless it's something that I'm really good at, like marketing, which is my forte, you know, or like, whereas something which is like filmmaking or other filmmaker, right why would I pay someone else to make my film. But what with anything where, you know, like things to do with finance, you know, things like that, you know, and trademarking. I know that there are websites where you can, but then your kind of second guessing, and, for me, it was, it was worth having, you know, somebody to make sure that I was doing. But if you don't have a lot of money, and you're trying to save, you know, how do you even make sense, like, for example, I wouldn't have known which classes we needed. And, you know, we ended up at six classes, right, and all of those things. So, how good are those websites where they kind of tell you that they would do it all.
Shireen Smith: Those websites? Well, basically, the intellectual property offices do a lot of explaining, I've had a client tell me that he spent 50 hours actually learning how to do trademarking. So, if you are willing to put the time into it to do it properly, you can certainly do it. But it's not something to just do in a cavalier way. Because I've seen people with registrations in totally the wrong classes, they haven't even got protection, but they won and paid to, you know, and then they've got this false sense of security. So, it certainly once you have to use your trademark that you realize whether it's good or not. So, you know, I think if people are willing to put the time and effort in to do a good job, and that, you know, and they do manage to do a good job, then fine, but otherwise, get a professional to do it.
Somi Arian: Yeah, it all comes down to that battle of like time versus money, right? For me, my time is the most expensive asset in my business, right, there's just so much I can do so. So, for me going for a walk and thinking about some big picture of something to do with my business is much more valuable than sitting there trying to figure something out.
Shireen Smith: Another point that's worth mentioning is that a trademark registration alone is pretty pointless. What really matters is assessing whether you can use the name, so you need a professional to do that for you. So, for example, SkyDrive had been registered as a trademark by Microsoft. And nevertheless, they were infringing on Sky, they obviously hadn't done their checks. And so, they had to rebrand to one drive. So, if you do it yourself, at least get a professional to do the checking for you to establish that you can use the name. That's really awesome.
Somi Arian: So, do you want to tell people where to find your book, your website, you’re so that they can. I know, disclaimer, you know, I have to say that you did our trademarks. And, you know, it was you've been very, very helpful. So that's why I thought that you had so much knowledge and experience that I wanted you to share that with other people. Yeah.
Shireen Smith: So, I own a law firm Azrights, which helps people with trademark registration stuff. And I also have a brand consultancy, Brand Tuned, but helps with brand management or branding. So, yeah. accessible on [email protected] or on any of the social media sites.
Somi Arian: Okay, Shireen Smith, and we will put all of that in the description as we release that. Thank you so much Shireen that's been super helpful.
Shireen Smith: Yeah, great to speak to you.
Somi Arian: I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Shireen Smith and found it helpful. Please let me know in the comments if you have more questions around trademark, and branding. Shireen will also be holding some helpful events on the FMB platform, so be sure to enjoy and benefit from them. Finally, remember to subscribe to the Somi Arian podcast on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, or any other one of your favorite platforms. And don't forget to give it a five star and write a review. Oh, and connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or clubhouse at Somi Arian. Finally, if you are not yet a member of FemPeak, head over to fempeak.ai register and join a community that actively supports women's professional growth.