How can collective marks, certification marks and geographical indications be useful for SMEs?

For a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), obtaining consumer recognition and customer loyalty is an arduous task. Regardless of the quality of the goods, gaining access to retail stores, local markets and distribution networks and making products known among consumers requires a significant investment that may exceed the budget of many firms. Given the small scale of production, many SMEs will find it difficult to develop a powerful marketing campaign that will enable them to position their products and create a reputation for their goods that will attract consumers. So what options are available?

"If you cannot beat them, join them" the old saying goes. And there is much wisdom in those words. Working together, SMEs may develop a joint marketing campaign for their products using collective marks. In fact, many would argue that one of the central challenges for SMEs is not so much their size but their isolation. Collective marks may provide a useful basis for association between various SMEs making similar products helping them to enhance recognition and build a reputation for their products.

SMEs may also seek to register their product as geographical indication if they consider that there is a clear link between their product and the geographical area where it was manufactured. This would guarantee exclusivity over the use of the geographical indication (e.g. "champagne" or "tequila") to promote their products.

Finally, they may use certification marks to certify that the product meets certain required standards thus giving consumers an indication that their product has been checked by an organization considered competent to certify the product and has met the necessary requirements. This too may help a company to market its products and improve its image among consumers.