Selling on Amazon presents any number of challenges. Between the hijackers, counterfeiters, and undercutters, it can be hard to stake your claim to a niche.
What if there was a way to turn the tables, and turn your FBA Private Label into an economic force to be reckoned with?
One with its own store, and protection against those up to nefarious deeds in the marketplace?
Well, my seller friends, there is such a miracle - and it’s Amazon Brand Registry.
By registering your brand with Amazon, you gain access to programs, tools, and features that will put you ahead of the evil-doers and the competition - while at the same time, growing your brand loyalty and increasing your sales.
While it takes a bit of work and expense for the initial set-up, in the end it will pay for itself many times over in customer satisfaction, intellectual property security, and more profits.
Ready to learn how to get on board this train?
We present The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Brand Registry.
What is a Brand?
Let's start with the basics.
A brand is a name given to a product that comes from a specific source. It’s a mark from a company placed on a line of products.
The idea originates from the marks burned into the flesh of livestock so that the owners know which of the livestock belongs to them (history fun fact).
A more contemporary example might be Apple computer. We know it’s a computer, and that it comes from Apple. This distinguishes it from Dell computer, or HP computer.
A secondary definition for brand involves the feeling that people have about the products sold under the brand name. It is the emotion the consumer has infused into their understanding of the brand name, or the image that a product with that brand name evokes.
This is a more amorphous and emotional definition, and one that is loosely defined.
For example, Apple computer evokes feelings of cutting-edge, dependable, beautifully designed products; while HP computer evokes feelings of gray, industrial, boring products.
Two different brands, two different brand names, two different sets of emotions.
The second brand definition is a creation of market positioning, marketing, and price of the products. Capturing the consumer’s attention and holding it is the function of this part of branding.
We’ll be concentrating on the physical brand - the name or mark - for purposes of this article, but remember that the second part is critical to the long-term success of any brand.
A brand consumers trust is the key to differentiating your product in the marketplace, and maintaining sales. Consumers value value visibility, quality, trust, credibility and customer experience. These are what a quality brand delivers.
What is an Amazon Brand, and How Do I Get a Brand on Amazon?
When selling on Amazon FBA, you generally have two options:
- Find and sell generic merchandise, usually sourced from Chinese manufacturers.
- Find generic merchandise, contract with the manufacturer to relabel and/or modify the merchandise, and creating private label products to be sold under your brand name/mark.
When we’re talking about an Amazon brand, we’re talking about choice #2, but in multiple products.
An Amazon brand is a line of private label products originating from the same seller and labeled with the same mark. This mark could be in the form of a logo or text of the brand name.
This needs to be distinguished from Amazon Basics, which is Amazon’s own line of private label merchandise across a wide variety of niches. And yes, Amazon Basics is technically an Amazon brand.
By creating private label merchandise for sale under a name/mark of your choosing, you have effectively created a brand on Amazon.
However, just coming up with a name for your brand is only the beginning. You’ll need to protect the brand from the competition in order to grow it to its full potential.
That’s where Amazon Brand Registry comes in.
What is Amazon Brand Registry?
Amazon Brand Registry is a free program that identifies brands and their owners to Amazon.
It’s a platform providing valuable services to sellers and buyers, with tools that allow brand owners to protect their trademarks, improve the buying experience for customers by protecting against counterfeiters and hijackers, and create personalized brand pages known as storefronts.
Per Amazon, registering a brand helps sellers protect their intellectual property (IP) and create an accurate and trusted experience for customers.
At the same time, it provides ways for brands to market themselves more effectively and easily.
This program has been around since 2015, and was recently overhauled in May 2017. Version 2.0 is much improved over the original, and offers a number of tangible benefits, including a stronger emphasis on removing counterfeit goods from the marketplace.
Benefits of Amazon Brand Registry
The original 2015 version of Brand Registry was very basic in form and function. The idea was to protect sellers from counterfeiters and hijackers, and offered little in the way of benefits.
A tab inside Seller Central housed a slow, difficult process for reporting copyright violation complaints, and later gained the ability to add Enhanced Brand Content to listings.
Many sellers didn’t use v1.0’s capabilities due to its limitations.
Amazon Brand Registry v2.0 has many advantages and upgrades that make it invaluable to a branded seller:
- Ability to upload product videos alongside product images
- Access to Amazon Headline Search Ads, defined by Amazon as “keyword targeted cost-per-click ads that allow brands to promote 3 or more products and drive traffic to a brand page or to a custom landing page on Amazon.”
- Access to the Amazon Early Reviewer Program, which “encourages customers who have already purchased a product to share their authentic experience about that product.” (This is only available to U.S. brand registered Amazon sellers with eligible products.)
- Allows you to register your brand, and gain sole ownership of the Buy Box for it.
- Brand Registry uses predictive protection that attempts to ID and remove potential bad listings from hijackers or counterfeiters, based on information about your brand
- Custom brand stores, to create “a curated destination for customers to not only shop your products but also learn more about your brand.” One of the most valuable benefits, more on this later...
- Easy reporting and removal of hijackers and counterfeiters, with a dedicated Amazon team for submitting IP infringement claims.
- Exclusive access to access to Enhanced Brand Content (via the A+ tool) for more developed product descriptions.
- Increased control over listing content, including product titles, details, and images; ASINs; and reducing matching errors during the listing process.
- Product pages with new designs and customizable details
- Unique Amazon URL’s for your brand
Along with all these great benefits, registered brand sellers often get first - or exclusive - access to any new features that Amazon rolls out onto its ever-growing platform.
Registering your brand seems like a winning proposition. Before we get into how to do it, let’s be clear about what brand registry does not offer.
Amazon Brand Registry Limitations
While Amazon Brand Registry does quite a bit in terms of protecting your IP, it does have 3 key limitations. It does not:
- Allow infringement claims to be submitted by someone other than the brand owner
- Limit or prohibit other sellers from selling your brand
- Allow for whitelisting or blacklisting of sellers who are selling your brand
At this time, none of the above services are offered on Amazon, but when they are, it is likely that brand registered sellers will have those capabilities first.
Brand registry is not available to sellers of:
- Books, Media, Video, DVD, BMVD
- Entertainment or Sports Collectibles
Now that we know what Amazon Brand Registry can and can’t do, let’s learn how to become part of the program.
Who is Eligible for Amazon Brand Registry
Sellers who manufacture or sell their own branded products, with properly registered Intellectual Property, are eligible to join the Amazon Brand Registry program.
Sellers eligible for brand registry must have an active registered trademark in each country where they wish to enroll. The brand trademark must be in the form of a text-based mark or an image-based mark with words, letters, or numbers.
There is are slightly different requirements for each country, so be sure to read the full guidelines and be compliant before proceeding to signup.
You’ll also need to be able to prove you are the owner (or a authorized agent) of the trademark, and have an Amazon account.
If you were registered prior to April 30, 2017 (in Brand Registry 1.0), you are required to re-enroll in the program. Previously registered brands were not automatically transferred to v2.0 of Amazon Brand Registry.
Before we go any further, let’s take discuss Intellectual Property, Trademarks, and Copyrights.
Trademarks and IP - What You Need to Know
Types of Intellectual Property
Since we’re not lawyers and don’t play them on TV, we’ll defer to Cornell University Law School for this definition of Intellectual Property:
“In general terms, intellectual property is any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. The ownership of intellectual property inherently creates a limited monopoly in the protected property.
Intellectual property is traditionally comprised of four categories: patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secrets.”
When it comes to selling on Amazon, the two main categories of IP are trademark and copyright. Let’s look at how these differ.
Trademark - Per the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), “A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.
A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.
Some examples include: brand names, slogans, and logos. The term "trademark" is often used in a general sense to refer to both trademarks and service marks.”
Copyright - “A copyright protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture.” In Amazon terms, this would be books, music, movies, software, and media.
For Amazon brands, a trademark is what you need to protect your intellectual property, not a copyright.
How to Trademark a Brand in Your Country
Each country has its own office and process for securing a trademark.
Amazon currently only accept trademarks that have been issued by government trademark offices in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Australia, India, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
Note: Trademarking products internationally can be a complicated and confusing process due to treaties and various laws. It’s best to consult a professional if you choose to go this route.
Trademark Time and Costs
Trademarks are not free, and take some time to acquire. Generally, its best to work with a trademark attorney to handle all the paperwork and variables in order to present a correct application the first time.
As an example, the USPTO responds to trademark requests within approximately three months of application filing. However, the total application processing time may be anywhere from 6 months to a year, or longer.
Costs also vary. In the US, fees can run between $225-400 per trademark, along with any legal fees that may be incurred.
If you have multiple brands, this can get expensive. A workaround for multiple brands for sellers not as concerned with IP is to use an open-ended or universal brand trademark that appears on the packaging - essentially, trademarked one brad as a catch-all for the rest.
Rather than trademark, say, “iPhone” and “iPad”, you could just trademark “Apple” and market the products as “iPhone by Apple” or “iPad by Apple”.
This does leave you vulnerable to IP theft or counterfeiting, but allows for large cost savings and the ability to get products to the market with greater speed.
It’s also possible that this approach may lead to packaging issues. Take the full picture of the long-term plan for the brand in mind before making this decision.
Active Trademark Requirements
It’s important to note that Amazon requires an active trademark. In the past, sellers were permitted to have a pending trademark (symbol ™) on their brand. Now an Active Registered Trademark is required (symbol ® ).
Your trademark application must be already approved and listed as active by the appropriate government trademark office before you apply for Amazon Brand Registry.
Sellers may use the ™ symbol before filing for a Trademark, as long as they own the brand name, and the brand name is not already in use. The ™ symbol denotes a non-registered mark.
Once the trademark is registered, sellers can then use the ® symbol.
Amazon’s Trademark Requirements
Amazon has its own set of requirements that must be met for a trademark to be acceptable and eventually approved for brand registry.
The trademark must be one of the following:
- Typeset Word(s)/Letter(s)/Number(s)
- An Illustration drawing which includes Word(s)/Letter(s)/Number(s)
- Standard character mark
- Words, Letters, or Numbers in a stylized form.
A Standard Character Mark is used to register words, letters, numbers or any combination thereof. It doesn’t claim any particular font style, size, color or design element. A single word mark protects the phrase regardless of how the words are displayed.
For example, “Apple” could be a Standard Character Mark.
The trademark must exactly match what is found in the USTPO or other government trademark agency database - or else your application for Brand registry will be rejected.
Now that we know how to trademark a brand, we’re ready to apply.
How To Apply for Amazon Brand Registry
Once you’re trademark(s) are properly registered, go to the enrollment page and sign in.
Per Amazon, you’ll need to have the following information ready to enroll your brand:
- Your brand name that has an active registered trademark.
- The associated government-registered trademark number.
- A list of product categories (e.g., apparel, sporting goods, electronics) in which your brand should be listed.
- A list of countries where your brand’s products are manufactured and distributed.
- Images of the brand logo(standalone images, not on a product)
- An image of the product or packaging with the trademarked logo
- If you are not a seller or vendor on Amazon, the contact details of an attorney or notary who is prepared to guarantee that you are the trademark owner.
After submitting all the information, Amazon will attempt to contact the person (your attorney, notary, etc.) associated with the registered trademark that you provided in the application.
Once Amazon verifies that you are the owner of the trademark, that person will receive a verification code.
You will need to send the confirmation code back to Amazon to complete the enrollment process.
When verification has been completed, you will then get access to the full suite of Amazon Brand Registry benefits and features.
How Long Does Brand Registration Take?
As we mentioned before, if your trademark is not yet registered, that part of the process can take 6 months or more, up to 18 months at the longest - unless there are further complications or errors.
On the Amazon side of things, assuming all the information you submit to Amazon is correct and can be easily verified, the approval process will take only a couple weeks.
What is Transparency?
Transparency is a part of Amazon’s Brand Registry program that helps ensure authentic, non-counterfeit products. It’s an item-level tracing service that helps protect your brand and customers from counterfeit.
According to Amazon, “Transparency allows brands to associate each unit they manufacture with a unique code. Amazon’s fulfillment centers look for and scan these codes to prevent counterfeit products from being shipped to customers.
Customers have the ability to scan and confirm authenticity of the products, regardless of where the products were purchased.”
Transparency requires its own enrollment. To join Transparency, you’ll need:
- The ability to verify yourself as the brand owner for your products.
- A Global Trade Item Number (GTIN), such as UPC barcode on your products.
- The ability to apply unique Transparency codes on every unit you manufacture.
What is GTIN?
A GTIN is a standard product ID such as a UPC, ISBN, or EAN.
Some products do not have a GTIN. Brand Registry does not provide a GTIN Exemption.
Sellers can apply for GTIN Exemption through Seller Central.
If a product is already listed on Amazon, you can list your offer on the existing product detail page and do not need to provide a GTIN.
If your product is not listed on Amazon, you need to request a GTIN exemption.
What if I Need Help with Amazon Brand Registry?
As part of the brand registry overhaul in 2017, there is now a dedicated support team available to help you with any question or issues that might arise. You can contact them here.
The Next Steps - Listings and Storefronts
Now that your brand is registered and approved, it’s time to get ready to sell.
The next steps are listing your products and designing a custom storefront to show them all together under your brand name.
There are two key things to remember when listing your products under your new brand.
1. Brand Name - Be extra sure to keep spelling and capitalization consistent for your brand name across all the copy in your listings. Make sure it’s exactly as it was when you submitted it to Amazon.
2. Key Attribute - You’ll have to choose a Key Attribute for your brand from a specified list. Decide which attribute you choose based on what will never change and will always be easily identifiable to distributors and customers. You’ll choose from one of the following:
- Catalogue number
- Manufacturer part number
- Model number
- Style number
You’ll then have to give that Key Attribute a unique value. Use the same attribute for all your products, but be sure to give each product a different value.
After that, enjoy the increased options and flexibility in designing your listing with the additional tools and features allowed through the Amazon Brand Registry dashboard.
Next, you have the option to set up a custom store for your brand.
Think of it as your personal Apple store - a boutique where you show off all your products in their best light, while creating the story of your brand.
This is where you’ll get to develop the second part of the definition of brand - the feeling and emotion that develops trust between the customer and the brand.
This is where you develop loyalty and drive sales by creating an immersive virtual shopping experience.
This is one of the best benefits of Amazon Brand Registry, so be sure to make the most of it.
The easy-to-use interface has several important features:
- The multi-page shopping format allows you space tell your brand’s story, help shoppers discover your product portfolio, and find related products and recommendations on Amazon.
- No coding skills are necessary to build your store. You can use videos, text, and images to promote your products and brand on Amazon for free, without writing a line of code.
- Drive traffic with advertising. It’s easy to drive shoppers to your Store with ads on Amazon and marketing activities outside of Amazon using a unique, easy-to-remember URL.
Amazon Brand Registry is a greatly improved program since v1.0, and one that every serious Amazon seller should be eager to join.
The custom store alone is worth the time and effort, and when you include all the tools, security measures, and features, it’s truly hard to beat.
It’s time to call that trademark attorney and have him start pushing some paper.
Amazon Brand Registry is waiting for your brand to take it to the next level.