Good branding adds value
In a competitive global market, producers are battling for customer loyalty more than ever. Buyers expect quality and reliability, with enterprises investing huge efforts to build a good reputation for their brand. Of course, protection is also required for domestic trademarks, to avoid ruthless rivals from taking unfair advantage
By Marina Dorokhova
Already, many Belarusian products enjoy demand abroad; furniture, cosmetics, food and knitwear. “Sadly, Belarusian goods aren’t subject to patent protection. Customers look for brands when they shop so manufacturers really need to defend their brand identity; branch associations are working to help them do so,” explains the Director of the Marketing Technologies Centre for Strategic Development, Anatoly Akantinov.
The situation is complicated by the history behind many old ‘Soviet’ trademarks, whose ownership is much disputed. “We’ve now realised that trademarks exist and that they need protection,” asserts the Chair of the Market Researchers’ Guild Board, Svetlana Petukhova. “However, it’s too time-consuming to try and distinguish each of fifteen companies’ trademarks, deciding what should be done with famous names.”
Belarusian manufacturers face two main problems: working within the Single Economic Space and raiding of their trademarks. Already, several law cases have been lost, alongside sales revenue — due to lack of foresight. The international registration of trademarks is now a necessity. “In 2010, around 100 registrations were made; in 2011, the figure doubled. This year, there have been about 240 trademarks registered,” explains patent agent Valentin Rachkovsky. “It’s not enough to register in Belarus though; you need to do so in each Customs Union state. Only then can we assert that a brand is protected.”
The Bank of E-Passports for Commodities is designed to help, notes the Director of the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences’ Centre of Identification Systems, Gennady Volnisty. “The database allows each product to be recorded, using up to 80 parameters. Barcodes are then issued to include the code of the product and its registered company within a certain territory.” The database already unites over seven million products, from around 4,000 domestic producers. Each product has a detailed description and photos may soon be added (especially for products which lack a bar-code). This should help control production and sales, with forged goods more easily detectable.
Mr. Volnisty adds, “The Belarusian Bank of E-Passports for Commodities is part of a system of global standards, uniting 150 countries. We’ll continue our work. We recently proposed that the Customs Union Commission and the Eurasian Economic Commission establish a single trading information space for the Customs Union — based on the standards and technologies of e-business.” Clearly, this would be an advance in ensuring transparency, market regulation and customer protection.
According to calculations by the Belarusian NAS, our country’s economic potential is at least $10 trillion, ensuring annual GDP growth of 10-15 percent (until 2020). NAS academician Piotr Nikitenko tells us that no external loans are needed to achieve these figures. Such growth should significantly increase standards of living, with people living longer and raising larger families. However, many producers are yet to realise the true value of their brand — either through false modesty or ignorance. The size of the global market is such that a reputable brand is priceless; it can even be used to sell unrelated goods, such as ‘branded’ T-shirts. Wise utilisation can add up to 25 percent onto a product’s price.
The BelBrand 2012 rating (annually prepared by MMP Consulting Agency) shows that ‘Santa Bremor’ is Belarus’ number one brand name — worth $75.3m. In second place is ‘Milavitsa’ ($71.5m), followed by ‘Babushkina Krynka’ ($49.2m).