I love reading Will Cleveland’s articles about the local craft beer scene and Holly Howell’s articles about wine in the Democrat & Chronicle. I feel connected to the foodie scene when my busy schedule prevents me from the real-life experience.
The St. Patrick’s Day inspired article by Will Cleveland about Guinness and local stouts featured a picture of 3 wide–mouthed 20 ounce glasses bearing the Guinness logo. It struck me how powerful that was and what a great opportunity for our local craft brewers to showcase and advertise their craft beers. The cost of custom glassware is affordable at as little as $2 to $5 per glass. Every time the glass is used, it is advertising to the target market right at the point of purchase. Compared to the cost of a single ad in print media, it is competitive, if not less, of an investment in marketing and brand awareness.
I have the foresight of a branding attorney who strategizes brand protection for craft breweries, craft cideries and craft distilleries. After a trade name and trademark has been cleared for use, a brand name or logo should be leveraged as much as possible.
The good will behind your brand is your largest equity in the business. Growing it is as important as increasing sales revenues. Being on tap is great, but restaurant patrons usually order at their table without seeing the tap. Thus, table tents and branded glassware can be an investment with real ROI. Statistics and studies are clear that suggestive selling works.
Here’s your to-do list:
- Have your beer (wine,cider,spirit) name, brewery (cidery,distillery,winery) name and logo cleared for use. Plan for an investment of $500-$10,000 depending on the size of the law firm and location of the law firm. Large city firms cost more than mid-sized cities even with similar experience and expertise. (It is worth reminding you that you get what you pay for.) For a city like Rochester, Buffalo or Syracuse, New York, a realistic budget would be $3,000-$5,000 per mark for clearance and registration. Practitioners in these mid-sized cities offer the same expertise and experience but at a significantly reduced cost compared to metropolitan New York City prices. Hiring from mid-sized cities can be a real cost savings.
- Who wants to spend money on this nonsense? Experienced business owners. Any craft beverage producer that has experienced a cease and desist letter or trademark opposition, the cost of legal defense, public attention to allegations of infringement, or rebranding will tell you this is money well-spent. (A pound of prevention…) There is little doubt that “had they known, they would have…” A brand is forever. You will make tens or hundreds of thousands on the name you have given it. Ensuring you can use the name before you invest in it is a small investment with real ROI.
- Use the trade name (beer name or logo) in every way possible to create brand recognition, brand loyalty and brand equity. Enter contests, publish articles, use social media and use branded glassware and table tents in on-premise retailers. Devise stunning shelf display designs for off-premise retailers.
- Create brand guidelines for your distributors and retailers so your mark is used correctly.
- Monitor the craft beverage landscape with a watch service for other trade names and beverage names that may be confusingly similar to yours.
- Enforce your mark when there is a threat: file oppositions to trademark applications, send cease and desist letters and commence infringement proceedings when necessary.
Your brand and trademark assets are some of your most valuable intellectual property and directly part of your good will. This is the line item on your balance sheet that accounts for your revenue potential in excess of the value of your real estate and equipment. The reputation you develop for your brand has direct revenue potential because it can be licensed for other purposes- food products, T-shirts, and other promotional products. “Brand extension” is the term given to these revenue opportunities. Brand extensions and licensing are in a growth mode in recent year financial reports for the alcoholic beverage for industry.
Tracy Jong has been an attorney for more than 20 years, representing restaurants, bars, and craft beverage manufacturers in a wide array of legal matters. She is also a licensed patent attorney.
Her book Everything You Need To Know About Obtaining and Maintaining a New York Retail Liquor License: The Definitive Guide to Navigating the State Liquor Authority will be available next month on Amazon.com as a softcover and Kindle e-book.
Her legal column is available in The Equipped Brewer, a publication giving business advice, trends, and vendor reviews to help craft breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries build brands and succeed financially.
She also maintains a website and blog with practical information on legal and business issues affecting the industry. Follow her, sign up for her free firm app or monthly newsletter.
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Tracy Jong Law Firm