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Name Before Logo; Get your Trademark Priorities Right!

A logo avoids the conformity of 11 point Times New Roman and seems like a universal expression of your brand. Let’s not forget that 35,000 years ago, early “words” were pictograms functioning much like a successful logo does today.

Images are powerful but when trademarking your brand in the 21st century, you should protect your name before your symbol. When people see your logo you want them to think of the name of your business. Take a moment to think about how your logo is used each day. I might see a swoosh on the feet of an athlete but when someone asks me what shoes I run in I don’t draw a picture.

Remember “O(+>” a/k/a “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” or “TAFKAP”. He thought his strong brand could be embodied by an unpronounceable symbol. Turns out we still needed a way to speak or write it so the market just created a new one (and the new phrase “the _____ formerly known as ______” to describe any once-famous thing or person who has evolved or rebranded).

Over time, a logo should make customers think of your business and form an association in the minds of the purchasing public. Furthermore, logos famously evolve as a business grows. Nike, The Gap, and Starbucks have all transformed their logos as their business grew and it is very likely that yours will change too, but the name of your business will likely remain the same.

Finally, in 2018 the name of your mark is related to something we did not have to worry about before the late 90s; a domain name. While it’s possible you might change your name or your domain it’s less likely unless you made a bad choice to begin with, need to pivot or rebrand. Generally a name becomes associated with a company over time and with many impressions. In my experience time and impressions are hard to come by. The last thing you want to do is abandon any hard-earned impressions and consumer awareness. The bottom line is you should protect both your name and logo(s) but for startups and any business on a budget, if you can only do one, start with the name.

Seth Gardenswartz