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Brand Tip #7: Finding and Using the Right Trademark

Whether your brand comprises a word(s), a design, a tagline or a combination of the foregoing, make it relevant and compelling yet as uncomplicated as you can to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.  Choosing an uncomplicated moniker is especially important considering the phenomenon of “cognitive fluency.” This principle reflects the tendency of the human brain to favor information that is easily processed over that which is complex, which ostensibly explains why shares of companies with easily pronounceable names trade better than their complex counterparts.

In addition to simplicity, the strength of your mark (or even whether it is capable of functioning as a trademark) should be considered. For example, generic terms are never capable of being appropriated exclusively by any one trader in the marketplace. On the other hand, inherently distinctive marks are the strongest types of marks and are most easily registrable with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Only owners of federally registered marks are entitled to use the ® symbol although some registrants continue to use the “tm” or “sm” symbol even after the mark has registered. The preferred practice is to use the ® symbol in close proximity to the mark once it has registered with the PTO. Correct usage of a mark is just as important as its display. Trademarks are technically adjectives and therefore should always modify a noun. For example, it is appropriate to refer to a Sony product such as a television as a Sony® television and not simply as a Sony.

Marks are also often highlighted in textual materials such as advertising to distinguish them from common words. Whatever the type or style of mark, it is important to treat its usage in all marketing and informational materials consistently to maintain effectiveness. If you’re using a tagline, it is especially important to incorporate the concept of the key benefit of your product or service. Just make sure that you capture the essence of your brand in as few words as possible. Consider the impact of classics like “Fly the friendly skies,” “Finger-lickin’ good,” “We try harder,” and “Don’t leave home without it.”

 

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