HELP-U-SELL BROKERS! THIS IS AN IMPORTANT POST!
I’m writing it because everywhere I look I see logo violations and improper use of Help-U-Sell trademarks. It is critical that every affiliate of this company – whether franchisee, vendor, agent or admin – use the Marks properly because improper use could cause us to lose them. It happened to Kleenex and it happened to Xerox.
Having said that I must confess: I have been a regular violator, myself, and if you look back a couple of years you can probably find examples of me NOT using the name and marks correctly. Kendra Gemma is the absolute highest authority on proper use and she’s been tutoring me; I have sworn to do better going forward! To help everyone get back into line, I offer the following tips.
First, let’s talk about grammar. The trademarked phrase ‘Help-U-Sell’ is not a verb. You don’t ‘Help-U-Sell’ a property. Neither does it ever stand alone (in fact, using it as I did in the previous two sentences is actually wrong!). It should be used like an adjective, always modifying a noun. So, our trademarked name, Help-U-Sell Real Estate, is proper usage: ‘Help-U-Sell’ modifies the noun, ‘Real Estate.’ It is ok to say ‘Help-U-Sell Broker’ or ‘Help-U-Sell Office’ or ‘Help-U-Sell system,’ but never just ‘Help-U-Sell.’
Second, consider identity. You are not ‘Help-U-Sell.’ Neither is Corporate. Help-U-Sell Real Estate is the name of the Franchisor with whom you are affiliated. You have a license to use the name ‘Help-U-Sell Real Estate’ and accompanying logos under very specific guidelines. I cringe a little writing this because I did a blog post some years back entitled, ‘I Am Help-U-Sell.’ No you’re not! So think about this: it’s not ok to pick up the ringing phone and answer, ‘Help-U-Sell, how may I help you?’ You are a Franchisee of Help-U-Sell Real Estate and are licensed to use the phrase ‘Help-U-Sell’ WITH your DBA: ‘Help-U-Sell Acme Realty, how may I help you?’ It’s not ok to verify your business on Google (a very important thing for you to do) as just ‘Help-U-Sell.’ You must verify with your full DBA: ‘Help-U-Sell Acme Realty.’
Third, let’s look at the logo. It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? You can’t imagine the time and effort that went into selecting and perfecting the red for our logo and signs! Take a look a the font used to spell out ‘Help-U-Sell.’ Believe it or not, it’s not a font at all. You can’t find a font that does that, because it is not typing, it is a graphic, a picture. Note that the U and the S don’t align properly with the other letters at the bottom and that the H and S don’t align with the L’s a the top. That is by design. So don’t think you can recreate the logo using a font in your word processor or publishing program: you can’t. Always insert it as a picture, a .JPEG or a .PNG, or a .GIF.
Next, notice the words, ‘Real Estate’ under ‘Help-U-Sell’ they are a part of the logo as well. So is the red ‘surfboard.’ So the logo is comprised of three things: the graphic name ‘Help-U-Sell’, the words ‘Real Estate’ and the red surfboard; you must use all three every time you use the logo. Also note the (R) (circle-R) to the right of the logo. While not technically part of the logo it does give notice to the world that this mark is registered and protected. You should always include it, too.
Now, you may use the logo exactly as it is, with no additions at all. I know, that seems to fly in the face of what I said above about always using your full DBA: ‘Help-U-Sell Acme Realty.’ But it’s apples and oranges. That’s you DBA, this is a registered LOGO. What you can’t do is use the logo and under it have the last half of your DBA, like this:
ACME REAL ESTATE
No, No, No and one more No for good measure! When you do that you are implying that you own Help-U-Sell Real Estate and the logo, which you don’t. If you use your DBA beneath the logo, you must use your full DBA, including ‘Help-U-Sell’, like this:
HELP-U-SELL ACME REAL ESTATE
There are a number of other nuances about the logo and the name that are outlined very well in the Policy and Procedure Manual*, but in the interest of simplicity I’ll leave them out of this post. Most of the violations I see and hear involve the situations mentioned above; if we could all get better at following these few guidelines . . . that would be a major victory!
Finally, here is the So What: the franchise agreement gives Help-U-Sell Real Estate the right and obligation to protect the mark(s). That means the $2,000 car wrap you just ordered and the $10,000 channel letter sign for you office MUST be correct. If they are not you can be asked to remove them. Your best course is ALWAYS to run your proposed marketing by Corporate before you begin. As mentioned, Kendra is a wiz at proper use and so is Ron McCoy. I’m a little slow but know how to ask either of them for help if you send your stuff to me! Let’s agree to make July the month we go back and tighten up all of the instances of improper usage!
*If you’ve misplaced your copy of the Policy and Procedure Manual, you can download a copy in OMS, under Marketing & Content, Operational Tools, Operations Manual.