GIrlfridayz attended an event today Be Mogul the event was to introduce the Be Mogul award and also to support successful Black British Business who are currently under-represented in the world of business. Successful entrepreneurs who working hard to provide their services or products under their brand. It was held in Natwest Bank in Bishopsgate London.
What strike me the most apart from the business owner talking about their services, products and why it was important to have event like this as it brings awareness to other about the hard work black businesses does and their contributions to the British economy by creating employment for others and paying their taxes, also the networking opportunity that it presents as you talked about your brand and other things of interest to the stranger sitting next to you or a group of people and politely join the conversation, basically see what what and who's who's and see if you can support them with what you do.
It was a good event where encouragement and advice was provided but only one person impressed me with her progress and how she supported brand throughout her career starting as a young entrepreneur and meeting famous people who pushed her to go further and open a platform for her to perform to her best and deliver. She is now 40yrs and have an international brand providing branding support to the world over and even had contract for TV, she was saying all this and we saw huge possibility here at Girlfridayz.
What is a Brand do you know ?
This post is about branding really what is the brand? do you really know, most people will say it is the name of your business and they would be right but that quite generic to say the least.
A brand is more than just a name it is the core of your business, it is a representation of you and the Why you started your business in the first place, your purpose your cause the why you are there and it usually have a story behind the name.
Your brand is unique, it carry your ethic and your vision and your mission statement all in one. Your brand is you and you live and breath that brand, that name it is an extension of your plans, your inner thought, wants, desire, dream, your sweat and tears, hope, anger, joy, love, will which must be stronger than the skill, courage, despair, failure turn into success, to turn the impossible into possible, it is the belief that you hold that carry your brand further on the journey that you set your brand to take with you in the world of business.
Your brand is your intellectual property
Your business name cannot be taken by anyone else, hence you should protect your brand name by registering your business name and what you do to the HMRC if you live in England and in your country jurisdiction if you live in another country. Getting Limited business status give you a bit more protection but the ultimate protection is trademarking your brand name.
unscrupulous tradesman can steal your brand
Unscrupulous tradesman can steal your brand easily, either because they like it and they know it is not registered or trademarked or sometimes innocently someone come up with the same brand as you and use it and start not knowing that it belong to you. It's always good to check if the brand you have chose is not already registered and you can do that on the UK government website, to check if it is a trademark or if not trademark it is a limited business, or put the name on google and if any company bear that name you cannot have it as it is already in use.
unscrupulous tradesman are operating freely and does not care at all about you and will steal your brand name as unfortunately there is people without imagination, unscrupulous who just going to steal your brand name has it happened to us at Girlfridayz.
So it is in your best interest when starting your company and when choosing a brand name to check if it available to ensure that you are not trading on anybody shoe and to avoid a possible lawsuit at worse and the owner can tell you to stop trading under their brand name and to change your name immediately. If you refuse and that brand name is registered this when you can be sued for a lots of money. So it worth to check if the brand name chosen has not been taken already.
The story of the birth of our brand name Girlfridayz
Back in 2007 I was unemployed and I stayed 4 weeks trying to find a job but did not found one so I thought let start my own business online. I wanted to provide admin service remotely to large businesses and SME's and also marketing material such as cup, calendar, flyers basically artwork and design.
I found online a lady who was a virtual assistant. I called her and asked what was the requirement to be a virtual assistant. She replied all you need to do is to create a website and provide administrative services to businesses. I replied great she added also register with the UK association of virtual assistant so you can get job.
I thought great what name should we be called which resonate with admin service and marketing, them I remembered man friday which was living with Robinson Crusoe on an island. I said the girl version would be girlfriday I like it so I check girl friday on google and found the story of ladies who in the olden days were working as admin for big businesses on Friday and serving tea and coffee to the customers and they called these women Girl Friday.
I thought it was so cool and matching my services so I called my brand name Girlfriday all in one word, but then my daughter was playing with Bratz doll and I thought the z at the end of the word Bratz was so cool and it had a ring to it. The Bratz dolls were quite popular at the time and every kids at one. So I settled for Girlfridayz and created a website called Girlfridayz with the domain name virtualgirlfridayz.co.uk.
How we discover that our brand name had been stolen
In 2011 my daughter tell me maman can I see your website, I replied yes go to virtualgirlfridayz.co.uk. She made a mistake and she type virtualgirlfriday.co.uk and landed on my thief site and them said to me you got two site the same as had cloned the whole site by then. I reply no I don't and went and checked I was shocked to see that someone had copy my site down to the text and stolen my business name.
I knew who it was as she had her name on her site. It was Anna the woman who called me back in 2009 and asked me how do you start a virtual assistant business. I replied you need to do admin or secretarial service for businesses remotely and you need a website that it.
I did not tell her to call herself virtualgirlfridayz. Nonetheless she called herself virtual girl friday and her website was virtualgirlfriday.co.uk but in 2011 she managed to cloned my site meaning same colour scheme now pink all over her site plus admin text and tagline and business name. Our site was pink footer and menu, links and bolded text, white and orange. since 2016 her domain name changed to virtualgirlfriday.info.
The Call to My callous thief
I called her in 2009 and told her you thief my business name and my website text we got the same domain name too, she replied callously it does not matter I am in Folkstone you are in London so do not worry and hang up the phone and she was charging £5 per hours for typing at that time her website colour scheme was different. At that time I thought her website colour is different and she is cheaper than me even if our domain is the same as only one letter differentiate us and her business name is spelled the same as me she Virtual Girl Friday and we are virtualgirlfridayz.
I carried on trading under my domain name virtualgirlfridayz.co.uk up until 2012 where I found a permanent job because what was happening was when I informed people go to virtualgirlfridayz.co.uk they often made a mistake and do not put the z hence landing on her site using her admin services instead of mine. I lost a lots of business and was only getting the crumb if people remember to put the z at the end of virtualgirlfridayz.co.uk. As she was virtualgirlfriday.co.uk
So I de-registered and told the HMRC I am no longer self-employed as I found a permanent job and now working for Millenium Group as a Registered Care Home Manager. I worked there for 2yrs until 3rd february 2014 because the care home closed. I found employment but it was a temporary contract which ended in june 2015.
I found myself unemployed again, so in July 2015 I made a call to the HMRC and said I wanted to re-register Girlfridayz and my website virtualgirlfridayz.com which was a sad attempt to differentiate myself from my thief. I was determine that this time it would be different and I would not let the fact that my brand name had been stolen harm me again and quitting my business temporarily as when it happened I had lost faith in my business getting successful previously due to the fact that my brand name had been stolen and I lost a lots of business.
Streamlining our brand name with our domain name
in 2016 we decided to align our domain name with our brand name and later on within the year we got limited status as I contacted the HMRC and reported the thief and the problem that my company experienced.
I was advised to get limited status which offer more protection of your brand name. So I did just that and purchase a domain name Girlfridayz.com which we are using at present. The change of domain name has differentiate us from our thief. The domain is different because we removed the word virtual and we saw an increase in customers and we changed our colour scheme to footer green and menu green.
Trademarking our brand Name
in 2017 we trademark our name Girlfridayz and also Girlfriday without the "Z". Because we found out on Google there is a lots of businesses called girl friday with many variants of my brand name. I am the original owner of the name but it has been copied so many times so we decided it was time to trademark our intellectual property.
As of the 14th of November 2017 we are trademark for both version of our Brand Name Girlfriday and Girlfridayz we also purchase a new domain name https://girlfriday.info as sometimes people still make mistake and do not put the z at the end of Girlfridayz.
We tried to purchase the domain name girlfriday.com but it was not available, I search the internet and found a company providing employment calling themselves girlfriday.com therefore someone is using my Brand name Girlfridayz outright they just could not get the z which is not enough by law to say that our brand name are different because only 1 letter differentiate us therefore they are using my business name and it variant girlfriday without the z we trademark both words as they are the same word.
As a business you need to protect yourself and your brand name it is important as unfortunately there is some people you will not hesitate to take your brand name without a thought for the owner and the damage that it can cause to someone else business and hurt that it create plus loss of revenue or potential revenue.
So my advice for all start-up company when choosing a brand name ensure that it is available before you start trading with that brand name.
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