How to Choose a Great Trademark

June 22, 2020

Welcome to my first-ever blog post!

I’ve been in the business, the trademark business that is, for over 15 years. I’ve seen my share of the great and not-so-great trademarks. I’ve seen more start-ups than I can count, and all have the same concern: “Is my trademark a good trademark”?

I spent 6 years as an in-house trademark agent for one of Canada’s largest women’s retailers and collaborated with the marketing departments on a daily basis carrying out searches for names that they wanted to use to identify their brands. One thing I learned very quickly in my time in the house, is that marketing and trademarking don’t always go hand in hand. Marketing wants to want is going to resonate with the consumer, of course, they do, that’s how you “get” the consumer, but 95% of the time, what resonates with the consumer are, in trademark talk, a) already taken, b) too generic, or c) descriptive.

So, now you’re asking yourself, well if what’s good for marketing isn’t good for trademarking, what IS good for trademarking? Lucky for you, I’m going to tell you.

Let’s look first at what kind of trademarks exist. There are 4 kinds of marks, which range from strong to weak. The 5 kinds of marks are:

  • Distinctive (He-Man of marks)
  • Arbitrary (Man-At-Arms of marks)
  • Suggestive (Teela of marks)
  • Descriptive (Evil-Lyn of marks)
  • Generic (Skeletor of marks)

 

Now if you’re a He-Man Master of the Universe fan, you will understand the analogies. For those of you who are much, much younger than I am, the best trademark to have is a DISTINCTIVE one.

For the purposes of this post, I will let you know what makes a trademark distinctive, however, stay tuned and I will explain, in detail, the other 4 kids as well in a future blog post.

A distinctive trademark is one that stands out in the crowd, one that ideally, is a coined term, one that means absolutely nothing. Great examples of coined marks are “Xerox”, “Hyba” (FYI, I was involved in choosing that one!), “Exxon”, “Verizon”, “Kodak” are all perfect trademarks because they are not dictionary words, actually they are not even words! There will likely be no competing marks that would be similar in the marketplace, which means your trademark will do what it is supposed to do, distinguish your brand from the others.

Another way to add distinctiveness to your trademark is to pair a word with a distinctive design. Think of Starbucks, their name is already a pretty good trademark, but paired with their mermaid design, they nailed it!

So when you’re choosing your trademark, keep one thing in mind “Be Original, Be Distinctive”.

Well that’s it folks, hope I didn’t bore you to death!

Until next time.

Sincerely,

The Trademark Chick

Written by

Jamie Bashtanyk

CEO/Trademark Agent

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