Vegemite Cheesybite has been announced today as the popular winner (36% of 30,000 votes) of Kraft’s naming competition, after iSnack2.0 bit the dust late last week. The runners up included Vegemite Smooth, Vegemite Vegemate, Vegemite Snackmate.
As we are lawyers, not marketers, we won’t speculate about whether the fate of iSnack2.0 was planned or a response to consumer feedback, nor will we reminisce about other famed about-turns (such as New Coke).
Rather, this is a quick reminder that when going through a rebrand or refresh (a ‘refresh’ might be a new slogan, different font or brighter corporate colour, as distinct from a total name change), it is as important to develop a legal strategy as it is to book advertising for the launch.
Developing a brand strategy requires a consistent approach and disciplined execution:
Trade mark clearance searches are crucial, as is the need to select distinctive trade indicia to enhance prospects of having a trade mark accepted.
Competitive strategy is very important when planning a rebrand. For instance, there are ways to apply for trade marks which minimise the risk that competitors will be alerted to planned activity in advance.
Where the rebrand or refresh attracts significant media attention, opportunistic third parties often try to leverage off the new trade indicia in some form (eg registering domain names, writing critical commentary, launching a competing website). Having a plan to deal with such activity is recommended
Maintaining legal protection for the superseded brand (particularly if it has developed a reputation) may also remain important. Otherwise, third parties can quickly create market confusion by seizing on abandoned trade marks when they become available.
Now for the Vegemite Cheesybite taste test!