We need to have a serious talk. This is kind of a big deal. I always get a ton of hate (and interestingly love) mail whenever I broach the topic of copyrights, trademarks, and brand names but it’s time to address it again. Today I am not going to be talking about First Sale Doctrine or how to register a trademark. I’m not going to talk about whether or not current laws are “fair”. I’m going to tell you to why you are absolutely destroying your own brand when you use copyrighted or trademarked content to advertise yourself.
A recent example I came across was an individual frustrated she got busted for using Lush as a tag on her Etsy shop. For those of you who are not familiar with Lush, it is an absolutely amazing natural bath and body company headquartered in England. I am obsessed with Lush. They have built a veritable empire of bath bombs, natural make up, and shower jellies. They are an industry standard.
If you are reading this article, you are likely NOT the owner of Lush.
(Although if you are reading this, Mark Constantine and Liz Weir, I would like to request a store near Burlington, Vermont!)
You are also not likely to be the owner of Yankee Candle.
Or American Girl Dolls.
You are definitely not Disney.
You are a small, independent business person just trying to make a mark in the world.
Sometimes it can seem like an easy option to garner some visibility online. Simply by including words like Disney, Lush, or LulaRoe your views can seemingly skyrocket. But here’s the thing: You are riding on the coattails of someone else’s work. You are automatically recognizing your own brand as a knockoff and you are lowering the perceived quality of what you offer. You aren’t Lush, but maybe you are a cheaper alternative! You are telling the world your brand is not “as good” but “close enough”.
Own your brand! Trumpet it with pride! Build up your own following, your own fans, and your own company values. Do not illegally appropriate the name of another company and then feel bad when bad things happen. You might get a lawsuit. You might get customer complaints. You might not get anything at all but you certainly won’t be building your own empire.
You started creating for a reason.
Share that reason with the world and the rest will (hopefully) follow.