Rapunzel of Sweden: What’s in a name?

In Interviews

1 March, 2017

When Ida Backlund started her own business selling hair extensions online, she soon realised the impact of a name and the importance of protecting it.

“My mother had read me the story about Rapunzel and it was a perfect fit for my budding enterprise,” says Ida.

A fairytale

She had originally registered her business as Ida Backlund Enskild Firma (Sole Proprietorship) but she knew that it wouldn’t make the cut to front a globally successful company. The long-haired princess of the Grimm brothers’ fairytale came to Ida after a few intense days of trying to come up with a new name.

“But I had to ask myself whether I could use the name Rapunzel. Was somebody else using it already? I contacted Awapatent’s European Patent Attorney Mona Karlsson and Attorney at Law Lars Pettersson. They helped me to find out if the name was protected.”

As it turned out, Ida was able to use the name Rapunzel of Sweden. The new name paved the way for her business. It was a fast process. Thanks to hard work and dedication, the company would soon qualify as a great success story.

It is vital to protect your brand from the start. You don’t want to spend time and money building somebody else’s brand and then have nothing to show for it. It would be an absolute disaster.
-Ida Backlund

Ida and her business partner started selling in Sweden but, seeing it was a very niche market of hair extensions, their intention was always to expand globally. For this reason, she made sure her trademark covered as many countries as possible. It was on the list of priorities from the very get-go.

“It is vital to protect your brand from the start. You don’t want to spend time and money building somebody else’s brand and then have nothing to show for it. It would be an absolute disaster.”

10 years in the business

Rapunzel Hair of Sweden celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. To mark the celebration, the company has just gone through a brand transformation which included a change of the original logotype. The new logo features waves of hair throughout the fonts, bringing the core business of hair extensions into the customers’ mind. The signature colours remain black and gold.

“The Rapunzel brand means a lot to me and to my business. It should symbolise quality, service and providing the customer with that little je ne sais quoi. Our products are targeted to the woman who wishes to create her own identity and express herself through her hair.”

Ida adds:
“It is all about confidence. For me, when my hair looks good I feel good.”

Extension copycats

From the very start of their business, competitors and copycats have continuously infringed on the Rapunzel brand by claiming to sell their products, using the same colour scheme in their logotype or stealing photos. Despite this, Ida is not worried.

“I have definitely noticed that we have ‘inspired’ others. Unfortunately, some use that inspiration in the wrong way,” she says.

She is yet to sue anybody for infringement of intellectual property rights. So far, it has proven enough to contact the people in question with an issued warning. Most have been quick to comply.

“As long as it doesn’t harm my business, it’s a minor problem. In a way, it is a bit flattering.

“I think some put too much effort into suing others, especially in other countries. I believe it is more important to create your own identity.”

Freedom to operate

In addition to registered and unregistered trademark rights, clearance searches with respect to design, patents and brands have been carried out on the behalf of Rapunzel before the launch of new products to make sure the company has the legal right to sell certain products such as a hairbrush and carrier bag for the extensions. In legal terms, this is called researching the freedom to operate.

Ida is looking into adding more products to the Rapunzel range to support her business.

“As your business grows, it is vital to keep on reinventing yourself and get better at what you do.”

For Ida, the name Rapunzel has been a contributing factor to her global success.

“For me it has meant everything, I wouldn’t have been here today without the name Rapunzel. It is a pride we all feel here at Rapunzel. It is something we have created together.” ■

Photo: Andreas Winblad

Facts about Rapunzel
Founder: Ida Backlund, 32 years
Number of employees: approx. 60
Revenue in 2016: approx. SEK 130 million
Markets: Currently selling to to 70 countries across the world. Largest markets are Sweden, Finland, Germany and Norway
Website: www.rapunzel.com

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