Branding vs. Trademarks vs. Advertising

Before choosing a trademark, it is important the user understand what a trademark is and where it fits into the ‘commercialization’ picture.

It is well known that a trademark is a symbol, word, emblem, logo, sign, stamp phrase, jingle, an appreciation, a sound, or a combination thereof used by individuals and companies to identify and distinguish the source of their goods and services from others in the marketplace.  When selecting and adopting a trademark, other factors, such as marketing objective and branding, must be considered. 

Identify your Marketing Objective:  Why do you need a trademark? What are your objectives?  (1) for identification and/or recall purpose?, (Objective I); or (2) for branding or evoking emotion purpose?(Objective II).

Objective I:  When the objective of a trademark is to only identify a product or service in the marketplace; trademark is used primarily as a memory aid.  Used if you only want a unique trademark or domain name that is easy to remember, easy to pronounce, or is visually appealing.  They may be arbitrary, suggestive or descriptive  (examples:  Google, Apple, Green Giant, Microsoft, Avis Car Rental, Starbucks, etc.) 

Objective II:  When the objective of a trademark to evoke or generate a particular emotion with a product or service. The emotion is normally generated by advertising and customer experience. Marks that satisfy Objective II ideally should satisfy Objective I. The types of emotions include some of the following emotions or qualities, happy, content, safe, secure, strong, friendly, kind, loving, caring, thoughtful, intelligent, wise, sensitive, etc.  (i.e. Ivory Soap connotes purity, softness, kindness, lusciousness;  Aqua Fresh connotes cleanliness,  attractiveness, and good health).

If you only want a unique trademark that is easy to remember then focus on marks that meet Objective I.

If you want a unique trademark that is easy to remember but also evokes a desired emotion, then focus on marks that meet Objective II. 

If you want an advantage in the marketplace, we recommend you adopt marks that meet Objectives I and II.


 Did you know that in 2013 and  2014, Apple,  known for its R&D, spend 3-4 times on marketing and advertising than on R&D.  Why?  Because they know that the name of the game is marketing and advertising because it works!  As an entrepreneur and small business owner you need to know how to play this game.  

Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs and small businesses  select and adopt a trademark before they consider the concept of ‘Branding’. As a result, the trademarks they adopt are ineffective or fail to generate the ‘goodwill’ they desire.   We believe entrepreneurs and small businesses should ‘Plan then Brand’.  

What is Branding?  Branding is the concept of generating an emotion in a customer and then associating a product, a service, or the company to this emotion.  Overtime, this emotion becomes indelibly associated with the product, services or company’s reputation or goodwill.  Eventually, this creates  loyalty in the user so they continue to buy or recommend the goods,  services, and company to others. Branding typically involves evoking emotions in the user that become associated with the product, service or the company. Every time the product, service or company is identified by the user, a positive emotion is evoked in the user (recall classic condition experiments known as Pavlov’s dog experiment). Because the condition response is acquired by repeated exposures to the stimuli, companies develop one or two consist branding elements (trademarks is a type of branding element) and repeatedly use the branding elements in a manner so that users come in contact with it (called Redundancy).

How to Create a Brand?  It starts with “What is your vision?”  “What is the promise you want to make to your customers?”   “How will the world change if customers purchased and used your product or service?  With entrepreneurs and small businesses owned by one or two owners, the brand is normally associated with an individual or individuals. Therefore, for entrepreneurs and small business owners the brand is associated with an individual’s personality or characteristic – honesty, fairness, thoroughness, accuracy, toughness, intelligent, innovative, etc.   

Next, consider the question:  How will your customers, complementers,  or suppliers benefit if they use your product or service?  

Next, consider the question:  How can the brand be communicated consistently on packaging, advertising, signage, websites, promotional materials, invoices , emails, office environment?  

Once to identify your brand, next consider ‘branding activities’

Two types of ‘branding’ activities – ‘affinity branding’ (When you see a trademark symbol used with a goods and service you associate the trademark to the good or service); and ‘dispositional branding’.  An example of dispositional branding is when you are asked someone what is their favorite car rental company, what car rental company to they recall?  Usually, they recall a specific situation or environment in which that had a positive car rental experience and recall the name of the company associated with the positive experience.

There are two ways to ‘brand’ – indirect (ads, signs, etc, less effective) and experience branding (what was the user’s experience when they used your goods or service, most effective).

Emotional Motivators:  A brand is more likely to be emotionally connected to its customers when the brand is aligned with the customer’s motivations and when the brand helps fulfill the customer’s deep desire.  A business’ objective is to identify the brand and its emotional motivators and then select trademark(s) that are consistent or suggestive (directly or indirectly) an emotional motivator.  For example, if a home furniture store wants to attact more customers it could identify the the brand as a furniture store that sells modern furniture to young adults. The emotional motivator could be the idea that young adults want to be ‘creative and live different lifestyles’.  To the home furniture store owner, he would select trademarks that suggest that ‘creative people and people who live different lifestyles buy new furniture on a regular basis. 

Trademarks:  Indirect branding elements. They are tools (words, symbols, phrases, colors, etc) that companies adapt that are easy to remember or recall or that generator a novel aspect or key benefit the company want to associate with the goods or products.   The U.S.P.T.O. is the federal agency that sorts out the legal rights to trademarks.


The main purpose of advertising is to disrupt the user’s attention to make the user aware of a company’s brand and its trademarks.

Miscellaneous Comments:

Recommendation for website operators:  Don’t treat your website as signage or an ‘advertising’ source page.  Instead, treat your website as a ‘positive experience generator’.  Successful companies know that ‘experience branding’ is more effective than ‘indirect  branding’.   If you have limited economic resources, focus on ‘experience branding’.

Once you understand the concepts of branding you will understand how to compete in the marketplace against larger companies.   Hopefully, you then select more effective, commercially valuable trademarks. 

If you would like more information on branding, trademark selection, trademark registration and maintenance, please contact us at or (425) 637-3035.


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