By Himanshu Inamdar
Over the 3 years that I have been a Toastmaster, I was never really very aware about branding and trademark guidelines of the organisation over and above the basics we have for posters and banners/standees, etc. Once I became an area director, I realised there was so much more to this than just using the logo and colours and fonts properly. The main learning experience and awareness about this was kicked off when I worked on the first big project in my area director term.
We conducted a PR campaign in Nashik in September. A part of the PR campaign was an open house meeting. For the open house meeting, we decided to distribute branded diaries with the Toastmasters logo and tagline to the participants. The idea was to ensure that the name of the brand sticks in the minds of the guests, and we felt that giving branded diaries was one of the best ways to do this. Until then, the process of getting trademark use approvals was not clear. Getting approvals seemed to be a daunting prospect. After all, you had to fill up a form on the website giving a detailed explanation for why you want to manufacture that branded product, send mockups, and so on. After talking to the District PR Manager Arjuna Shivangi though, the process became quite clear. It isn’t as complicated as it looks at first sight. We got all necessary details including a photo of a sample diary in place. Once that was ready, we sent the request to TI. A complication in the process, from what we are usually used to when we hear or read the word ‘approval’, is delay. It’s something that always comes together. This was a different experience though. We got approval from the Trademarks Team within 48 hours of sending the request. The process is much easier than it seems at first, and the form is self-explanatory. In addition to this, the Trademarks team is also quite responsive and helpful.
Building upon this, a few weeks later, it so happened that the meeting certificates (Best Speaker, Best Evaluator, etc) we use in my home club, TMCP-Central, were almost over. Armed with this new awareness of branding guidelines, I decided to get this done the proper way as well. I asked our club VP-PR, TM Basudhara Choudhuri, to prepare a mockup of the certificates based on the branding guidelines. Once she made those, I sent them to the Trademarks team for approval. They suggested one minor change. We got that done and finally got the certificates approved. Even with this additional step of one edit required in between, it still took us just 3-4 days to complete the entire process.
In the end, getting things done the right way is not as difficult as it seems at the start. Once we get into it, the process becomes quite clear. We also have a wonderful team to help us out if we need any help in that process. I would urge everyone to explore the website to see how you can raise a Trademark Use Request, and actually do it the next time you need something for your club.
Note: The campaign was a district-sponsored event led by Division P Director Umesh Agashe and Area P4 Director Himanshu Inamdar conducted with the intention of increasing the visibility of the Toastmasters brand in Nashik, hence using branded material was of particular importance in the campaign.