5 minute read

It’s one of the most important decisions you make in your business: What will I call it? How will the world identify my brand? WHO AM I? (cue the drama…)

In all seriousness… Your trademark is how your audience & prospective customers will identify you. In today’s world of online business, with all the noise & competition out there, your trademark is more important than ever.

Interested customers & clients will search you by your business name. They will recommend you to others using this name. Your livelihood literally depends on the ability of others to find & identify you easily.

Not to mention, the value of your online business does not lie in the value of your current inventory, or a brick & mortar. It isn’t assessed by the value of your equipment or office furniture (no thanks). It’s determined by the value of your intellectual property assets. And the most important IP asset you own is your trademark.

This means that it’s that much more important to make sure your trademark is a strong, distinct one, not one that is weak or generic, meaning everybody else in your industry is using the same or similar name. And if everyone else is using it (or needs to use it to describe their own services) you are unlikely to be able to secure the federal trademark rights to it exclusively.

Read on to learn how to develop a strong, valuable trademark for your business, brand, program, podcast, and more.

Don’t Be #Basic

Don’t use generic or descriptive words to describe your business. For example, if you were to open a restaurant, you would want to avoid calling it, “Diner” or “The Sandwich Shop.” If you were launching a group coaching program, you wouldn’t want to call yourself “The Business Coach” or your program “The Online Business Owners Coaching Program.” (Plus, how boring would that be, am I right? #yawn)

The USPTO (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) will refuse registration to generic or descriptive marks because other businesses selling similar goods/services need to be able to use those terms to describe their own products/services.

On top of that, what good does it do you if a gazillion other companies show up in the search when someone interested in hiring (or purchasing from) *you* searches your generic & descriptive business name & cannot find you? No good. It does you absolutely no good. Seriously.

Creative & Suggestive Trademarks

One step up from descriptiveness is a suggestive trademark. A suggestive mark is one that does not expressly suggest the nature of the goods/services; instead, it does so in an indirect way. Some examples of this include:

  • Microsoft for computers
  • Lyft for ride-sharing services
  • The Bump for a pregnancy blog

Arbitrary Trademarks

The next level of trademark strength is an arbitrary mark. Arbitrary trademarks include words that exist in the English language but have nothing to do with the goods/services being sold in connection with the mark. Here are some examples:

  • Bumble for a dating app
  • Infiniti for vehicles
  • Apple for electronics

Fanciful Trademarks

Finally, we have arrived to the strongest type of trademark: fanciful marks. A fanciful mark is a made up word that bears no meaning & is used in a trademark manner to identify the source of goods/services. Some examples include:

  • Hulu for streaming services
  • Kodak for photography equipment
  • Exxon for gasoline

Final Thoughts

There you go. It goes without saying that you want to avoid using a generic or descriptive trademark in developing your brand name, product name, or program name. If you choose to go the generic or descriptive route, you risk not being able to secure the exclusive right to the use of your trademark (not a good strategy) & getting lost in all of the noise out there on the world wide web.

Your goal as a business owner should be to STAND OUT from the crowd! Make it easy for your people to find you & to purchase your goods or services. Spend a reasonable amount of time developing a trademark that identifies you & your brand in a way that is easy to identify & won’t be confused with your competitors. Your business will thank you! And when your business thanks you, it’s typically in the form of loooots of revenue 😉

Are you ready to protect your brand & secure your business’ intellectual property rights? If so, schedule a Brand Protection Discovery Call with me today. We will spend time discussing the current state of your brand protection, identify your intellectual property assets, & discuss the game plan needed for you to protect what’s yours moving forward. I look forward to speaking with you.

To your business’ success,

Note: This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice or if you would like to schedule a call with our office in order to best protect yourself & your business, you can do so here.