The #Bannerchallenge Brand Right Blog

Over the past months Facebookers have been treated to many wonderful images of Toastmasters doing the #bannerchallenge as they visit different clubs. Not only have we been treated to countless images of smiling Toastmasters, but it also gave us some insight into the various club banners that are being used throughout District 74.

After entering into one or two online “conversations” regarding what is, or is not #brandright from a club banner perspective (specifically with regards to the use of old banners and self-designed banners) it became apparent that the issue is a pretty sensitive one.

So to settle the argument debate once and for all, Team Brand Right sought direction from Toastmasters World Headquarters on the issue of club banners, herewith their response:

“We do, indeed, have an official position regarding club banners. They are the most prominent branded element a club has and they allow our brand [and any club] to be instantly recognizable. That is the reason we don’t allow the local design of club banners and insist clubs need to have the current banner on display.

We also understand logistics can be an issue for other continents, that’s why we are currently developing a version of the banner that will allow clubs and districts to purchase the digital file from Toastmasters and have it printed locally, removing taxes, customs, shipping costs. Having that said, we don’t want clubs to feel they can’t show pride for their heritage. They are welcome to keep and display the old banner, as long as they also have the current one and that the current one is displayed more prominently.” ~ Ilana Herzberg, Brand Specialist, Toastmasters International.

There you have it. The official position from World Headquarters.

From a compliance perspective, herewith some further guidelines regarding the use of Toastmasters Intellectual Property:

Q: What is Intellectual Property?

A: Intellectual Property refers to creations of the mind; it encompasses trademarks and copyrights. Trademarks are the words, names, symbols and colours that distinguish Toastmasters International. Copyrights protect Toastmasters International’s proprietary educational materials that have been tangibly expressed. The membership marks “Toastmasters International,” “Toastmaster” and “Toastmasters,” and the emblem are registered for trademark protection in all countries where districts, provisional districts, or territorial councils exist, for exclusive use by or under the authority of Toastmasters International.

In a nutshell:- Toastmasters International owns the Toastmasters brand (in all variations) and as Members, Clubs, Areas, Divisions and Districts (in good standing) we use these under the authority of Toastmasters International.

Q: What constitutes unauthorized use?

A: Any product, aside from the items mentioned in Policy 4.0 (of who may use Toastmasters International’s trademarks, the type of uses authorized, and the parties responsible for their use), that bears the Toastmasters International trademarks, logo, emblem, word, or tagline that has not been authorized by World Headquarters. Any item that bears our trademarks but does not follow our Brand guidelines indicates that it was not authorized.

In a nutshell:- Any item which does not follow brand guidelines is considered “Unauthorised use”.

Q: I want to create items using Toastmasters trademarks. How do I obtain the required authorization from World Headquarters?

A: To create materials using the “Toastmasters” word mark or logo on objects that are not already authorized, prior written consent from WHQ is required. We kindly ask that you submit a Trademark Use Request Form to start the Brand/Trademark review and approval process.

In a nutshell:- If you wish to vary from Brand Guidelines (Eg. Design your own Club banner), you need to apply for authorisation.

Q: What items are typically denied Trademark Authorization?

A: Requests for any items that are already available in Toastmasters’ online store are denied. This includes badges, club banners and pins.

In a nutshell:- You will not get authorisation to design your own club banners or name badges.

Q: What are the potential consequences of using Toastmasters’ trademarks and copyrights without authorization from World Headquarters?

A: Unauthorized use of the marks or copyrighted materials is prohibited and may result in removal from good standing of an individual member, revocation of a club charter, removal of an officer at any level, or other disciplinary or legal action.

In a nutshell:- Toastmasters International is pretty serious about how it’s intellectual property is used, and so it should be. The Toastmasters brand is an extremely valuable one that should be treated with the respect that it deserves – #brandright.