March 06, 2017

Branding Lessons Learned from Bond. James Bond

by Guest Blogger

Growing up, my dad and I watched a lot of Bond movies. You all know the line: "Bond. James Bond." [Cue music and Bond girl]. That line was introduced in the 1962 film Dr. No. Over more than 50 years, Bond has endured as an iconic brand. The Bond actors and array of Bond girl actresses have changed throughout the decades, but the brand stands the test of time to Die Another Day. The heart of each Bond movie is constant and shares the same key characteristics of a spy with a License to Kill for whom The World is Not Enough. The way Bond looks, however, has changed over time with several actors playing the role. My favorites are Sean Connery and Daniel Craig. To see them all, click here for the official 007 website.

Just like Bond, your brands and trademarks may change looks over time. You may want to change fonts, tweak your design, add or remove punctuation or spacing, change colors or make other changes to your mark. Two easy steps will maintain your brand and avoid becoming a Spectre. First, you need to make sure that the new version of your trademark is covered by your trademark registration. And second, you need to make sure that your marketing and branding materials consistently use the same version of your mark so you communicate a consistent message and avoid a Skyfall.

Changes to your brand are not For Your Eyes Only. You may need to file an updated version of your mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to make sure your updated version of your mark is protected with an existing registration. If the changes are non-material and don't change the overall commercial impression of the mark, you can simply amend an existing registration to update the appearance of your mark. If, however, you are making a change that would be noticeable to a consumer, then you probably will need to file a new registration application. Diamonds are Forever, but trademark registrations must be updated.

Second, you need to ensure that all uses of your mark are consistent. This is true whether you adopt a new updated version of your mark or whether you have marketing or promotional materials that display your original mark in different ways. For example, maybe your mark has a hyphen in some places but not others, or maybe your mark is shown as a one-word term in some places but as two separate words in other places. This inconsistency can cut against your brand identity. Don't just Live and Let Die. Review your marketing, your website, your business cards, and other materials to ensure that you have a strong, consistent trademark message. After all, You Only Live Twice.

When you have a consistent brand, your message is clear and capable of stronger brand recognition among consumers. On the flip side, you are at greater risk of mockery. Bond is not immune. Check out this clip from Saturday Night Live featuring Tim McGraw in a parody of the classic Casino Royale.