"There is a correlation between a strong brand and profitability," says Tommi Vainio, President at Beneq. The technology company, which has grown its revenue with several tens of percent over the past years, has increased its investments in brand rights to secure profitable growth and strengthen the value of the BENEQ® brand.
Beneq Oy is known as a leading provider of atomic layer deposition (ALD) equipment and as a pioneer in industrial ALD technology. There is a strong global demand for BENEQ® manufacturing and R&D equipment with a high-quality reputation. Ninety-nine percent of the sales come from outside Finland.
"I'm proud that we've taken our technology to a level where even the biggest players in the semiconductor industry want to buy our equipment. In these companies, the level of requirements for both the equipment and the supplier is really high. To pass these audits, and to meet the performance and quality expectations, has been a long journey. However, we have paved the way as pioneers of industrial ALD technology. Moreover, we are the first company in the world who developed ALD into a continuous deposition process on an industrial scale," says Tommi Vainio.
Brand rights create value alongside patents
The BENEQ® brand is strongly associated with innovation and inventions. When the company was founded in 2005, the main focus was on protecting the results of product development with patents, as patents were seen as the most important intellectual property assets in increasing the value of the company and building competitive advantage. As a result, Beneq is among the most active Finnish patent applicants, protecting its products worldwide.
With the increase in the recognition of the BENEQ® brand in the market, trademarks and other brand rights have become increasingly important intangible assets contributing to the company's value.
"The importance of the brand for us is growing significantly. I think that in B2B companies like Beneq, the brand can even surpass the value brought by patents. Nowadays, we think that brand rights increase our company's value as equals alongside patents," says Tommi.
Brand right strategy to increase the brand value
The cooperation between Beneq and Kaulo & Partners in brand rights began in early 2022 with joint strategic considerations, when Beneq wanted to utilize brand rights in its business more effectively than before.
"It has been useful for us to have a partner who specifically focuses on brand rights. Previously, the IP discussions within the company were quite patent-driven, and the brand-related issues were handled 'on the side'. The collaboration has brought more focus and sharpness to the systematic management of brand rights," describes Tommi.
He also finds the brand right strategy workshop facilitated by Kaulo & Partners beneficial. This workshop laid the foundation for drafting a brand right strategy supporting the company’s future goals, and provided company-specific guidelines for the correct use of trademarks to ensure that the registered rights remain valid – and consistently increase the brand's value.
"In these discussions, we gained a better overall picture of our company's brand rights than ever before. Good discussions emerged about what registrations we really need, what are the core trademarks and other brand rights for the company, and where to invest in the future," says Tommi.
Based on the brand rights strategy, the trademark portfolio was both streamlined and supplemented with new registrations. Further, trademark watch and web content watch were initiated to monitor and detect possible infringements or registrations by competitors that could weaken the brand value.
Correlation between strong brand and profitability
According to Tommi, a strong brand is concretely reflected in the company's ability to conduct profitable business. The significance of the brand also becomes more material in that it's easier to open new sales channels. Sales cycles shorten when trust in the BENEQ® brand is a fundamental assumption, and there are satisfied users of the technology in the market.
"There is a correlation between a strong brand and profitability. A brand carrying a reputation for high quality also creates a positive loop. In the best case, the marketing is done by the users of BENEQ® tools and not by the company. Many of our customers are proud to use high-tech tools in their production that can be considered the best in the world. Good news spreads more easily even to new industries through a strong brand."
Almost limitless application possibilities for BENEQ® technology
Currently, Beneq has two nearly equally strong business segments: the semiconductor industry and other demanding industrial ALD applications, referred to as "advanced ALD," which also includes research equipment. Beneq has paved the way in the field, especially in researching where and how ALD technology can be applied in different industries. The company can reasonably use its slogan "Home of industrial ALD".
"The application possibilities of ALD technology in various industries are so vast that it has also been a challenge for a company of our size to determine what, in what order, and which markets to address first," Tommi explains.
In the semiconductor industry, Beneq is known for its "more than more" applications. End products in the semiconductor industry utilizing Beneq's technology include items like mobile phones, cameras, computers, and telecommunication devices like 5G or 4G terminals. Cars, especially electric vehicles, also ‘hide’ a lot of BENEQ® technology, including power electronics, sensors, various electromechanical microsystems (MEMS), small speakers, and photonics.
Outside of semiconductor industrial sector, Beneq’s advanced ALD, encompasses various demanding optical coatings and coatings on complex and demanding 3D shapes and dimensions, solutions for lithium battery technology, challenging anti-corrosion coatings, and moisture barriers for electronics. Fuel cells and solar panels are also growing application areas.
High-tech research equipment strengthens the BENEQ® brand
Research equipment has been a significant part of Beneq's business from the beginning, laying the foundation for the creation of the strong BENEQ® technology brand. Research and research tools are deeply ingrained in the company's DNA.
"I'm very proud that our equipment is respected and desired in many of the world’s top technology research units. We collaborate with many research institutions," Tommi says.
"The engineering world currently knows no coating method as precise as ALD, so it sets extremely high-quality requirements for both the research and the production equipment used for creating such precise coatings."
A technology pioneer can also be a leader in leveraging brands
In its first nearly ten years, Beneq has grown steadily with an annual growth rate of several tens of percent. The pace of growth in the past two years has again been an impressive 30 - 50 percent; in 2022, the revenue reached nearly 40 million euros. In the future, the goal is to focus not only on growth but also on increasing profitability. BENEQ® brand and the related brand rights are central to this endeavor.
"When the brand value remains strong and grows, we also get a higher value for our technology, which it well deserves. Naturally, improving profitability also means that we introduce new value-adding features to the equipment and standardize products and processes more extensively," describes Tommi.
For the ALD technology pioneer, the goal is also to integrate brand rights planning and considerations into product development processes to ensure that the brand evolves with technology and brings added value to growing business.
For a company the size of Beneq, outsourcing brand rights management to a specialized partner has proven to be a functional solution.
"The best part of the collaboration with Kaulo & Partners has been the confidential atmosphere for discussion and the service model, which includes recommendations and advice. The management of brand rights has been proactive, focusing on the essential IP views for business, not just reacting to official deadlines. It's positive that the partner brings up perspectives that we could not think of, understand or remember in the midst of our intensive growth and product development."
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