January 28, 2014

6 Considerations for Developing a Great Trademark

by Stites & Harbison, PLLC


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Developing a trademark for your new business or product line is a difficult, but critical, exercise. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for every business, every company must consider these six basic questions before settling on a trademark:

(1) What is your particular brand?

(2) What word best expresses your brand?

(3) What typography conveys the feeling of your brand?

(4) What colors are consistent with your brand's personality?

(5) Should your trademark include a graphic, and if so, which graphic will best complement your brand?

(6) Will the trademark help distinguish your brand from the competition?

More on these issues after the break.

1. Your Brand

Before you can develop a trademark, you need to determine and articulate your brand. Your brand is not what you do, but who you are and how you do it. Branding, therefore, is the communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not. Trademarks are the ultimate expression of branding. If developed and managed to properly reflect your brand, your trademark can become an embodiment of the heart and soul of your company.

2. Your Word

You must have a name for your product or service. Just ask Prince. He changed his name to an unpronouncable symbol, and everyone ended up calling him "the artist formerly known as Prince." He changed it back to Prince.

The word you select for your product must convey your brand, whether written or spoken. Lexicon Branding, which has mastered the art of developing brand names, believes that the "Strategic Impact" (how the word works in the field), the "Semantic Value" (the meaning of the word) and the "Phonetic Structure" (the sound of the word itself) must work in concert to effectively communicate the brand.

3. Your Typography

Needless to say, typography is a rich subject. You can choose serif or sans-serif typefaces, proportional or monospaced typefaces, or formal, modern, or dramatic typefaces. There are narrow and bold typefaces and ranges of italics. Whatever typeface you choose should be legible and scalable, work well with the letters in your trademark, and reflect the personality of the brand.

4. Your Color

The choice of color is an important consideration in developing a trademark that effectively communicates your brand. It is widely accepted that specific colors evoke specific emotions and that customers are turned off by colors that are inconsistent with the product or service. Remember that your trademark will not always be shown in color and should therefore look good in black and white as well.

5. Your Graphic

Including a graphic with your brand name is not a requirement, but can be very helpful in communicating the personality of your brand. For instance, Apple's iconic logo has become a perfect expression of the brand, with or without the name. Other logos, not so much. The logo you choose should have some meaning relative to your brand and be of a size and shape that reflects your brand and how your trademark will be used on any packaging and advertising as well as in the constraints set out by the various social media.

6. Your Competition

Developing a trademark is like picking a name for your child- you may be stuck with it forever. So, you need to make sure that your trademark not only reflects your brand, but distinguishes you from your competition. Always make sure no one else is using the trademark and that the domain name and social media handles are available. This will help you set yourself apart from the competition and perhaps avoid a lawsuit. When you have picked the perfect trademark to reflect your brand, keep competitors at bay by protecting it with a federal registration.

Just as there are only 6 degrees of separation between you and every other person, these 6 considerations are the only things between you and a great trademark!

The lawyers at Trademarkology provide trademark registration services backed by the experience and service of one of the nation's oldest law firms. Click here to begin the process of protecting your brand name with a federally registered trademark.