One of the important steps in building a business is considering what brand or name you will use to promote and identify the product. But what is a brand? Is it a trademark? Is it a company? The World Intellectual Property Organization (or “WIPO”) attempted to distinguish a trademark from a brand. WIPO defines a TRADEMARK as:
“any sign, or combination of signs, capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings, shall be capable of constituting a trademark”
Essentially, some word or design which separates you from another can be a trademark. WIPO then defines a “brand” as:
“a name, term, sign, symbol, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or a group of sellers and to differentiate them from their competitors”
That is because it seems like the only substantive distinction might be that a trademark is a legal instrument while a brand is defined more broadly to incorporate your company, your trademark and other intellectual assets, your reputation, your products, your marketing, your promises, and, in essence, your whole identity as a source of goods or services.
Your trademark forms the core of your brand but your brand extends well beyond your trademark. This is powerful. A good trademark and a good brand, for a struggling start-up, can make the difference between transforming into a rabidly successful company or into another mound in the graveyard of failed attempts.
In many cases, a strong brand starts with a strong trademark. A good trademark is an important asset to any company as it may be the sole identifier in the market at the outset. Built on a strong trademark, a company can more easily establish a strong brand. Conversely, a weak trademark can force a startup into an unnecessary uphill battle. While this may not be the end-all-be-all for big success in any given market, it does have a significant impact.
What Should I Do Next?
A strong trademark is a detailed question. We recommend you contact a skilled attorney specializing in intellectual property. Selecting a good trademark from the beginning can smooth out the road significantly.
If you’d like to schedule time to discuss strategy regarding your trademark, the attorneys at Miller IP Law offer free strategy sessions. Let’s find a time to talk.