Monday, 7 September 2009

Only CHANEL. Never Chanel-esque.

Fashionista has read negative commentary surrounding Chanel's publication in Womens Wear Daily of a notice of how its brand is to be used - and, in particular, not misused. But what about the benefits to brands of getting the message across as to how your brand should or should not be used?

Playing Devil's Advocate (no pun intended) to the negative commentary, Fashionista endorses Chanel's move.

Intellectual property rights are often a company's most valuable asset. For a fashion brand, its trade mark - its name - is everything. Fashion houses spend an immense amount of money, time and effort building up their brand, goodwill and reputation. Surely the last thing they want is for someone to rip it off or - worse - for their brand to become generic through misuse over time and so lose all value.

It happened to Sellotape, to Hoover; to Xerox. It is threatening to happen to Google. So it is surely a sensible move for any brand to stress that its name should not be considered generic. Coca-Cola did this a few years ago, running an advertising campaign which featured all the brands owns by the Coca-Cola Company. The purpose of a trade mark in the UK is to be able to distinguish the goods of one business from those of another. The brand name should not be used to refer to a particular "look" - even if the brand image is so strong that a particular look conveys the originating brand. This does not (or should not) make a brand generic. This makes it recognisable, powerful, iconic.

Rather than deriding Chanel for explaining its brand and seeking to protect it, Fashionista believes that this was a cautious, necessary step to take - if only to show the world that a brand is there and worth protecting. After all, if you don't police the use of your brand, you risk losing the rights you have to it. No doubt Chanel took the view that negative commentary now is less traumatic than lost or weakened rights. And the timing is great - with all the positive commentary surrounding the Coco Before Chanel film, how many are going to pay attention to gripes regarding brand use notices? Not this Fashionista.