Is hashtag a new way of (trademarked) Branding?
Recent news say that Coke has filed an application to trademark #cokecanpics and #smilewithacoke, 2 Twitter hashtags widely used by the Company and its community.
First question, is it actually possible to do that? Well, it may depend on the legislations in every single country but, in abstract, it is in fact possibile.
The Italian Law for instance, under certain circumstances like not being too generic (#drink…) or being truly distinctive and new, allows “signs that can be represented graphically” to be registered as trademarks. And this is definively the case for hashtags.
Second question, what is this for? A lot of different reasons tell that this is a very smart move.
Hashtags were originally created to better search topics on Twitter, but their use and immediate perception has been so wide that they rapidly have grown to get attention to the keyword used in all sort of media, even offline.
Nowadays, almost all Marketing campaigns end their slogans with an hashtag, trying to catch attention and generate hype and conversations online (in the picture an example of instant marketing we did in Barilla during the 2014 football World Cup with the hashtag #calciobarilla).
Unfortunately, official branded hashtags are in some occasion “hijacked” by NGOs, haters or even single consumers to express their point of view on the Brands, often against the Brands.
In both cases register the hashtag is pretty useful for a Brand to manage and protect its Communcation campaigns.
In my working experience I have registered, for Marketing or for defensive reasons, a lot of Internet domains. I see no difference to register an hastag, if crucial for my Brand or my campaign.
And you, have you already registered your hashtags?