Trademarks: Standing Out In A Crowd


Understanding how trademarks work to attract consumers enables you, as a business owner or entrepreneur, to recognize how your trademark should be working for you. 



You're in your car—driving—along an avenue of signs, billboards, and announcements. All designed to grab attention, and send a message within the...one...two...seconds you spare to give them a glance. The majority are brands, also known as "trademarks". They call out to you. Beckoning you to shop their store, buy a product, or simply "get gas here". 

Trademarks are competitive by nature. They have to stand out in an boundless crowd of other marks, vying for your attention. To stand out in the crowd a mark has to be “distinctively different”. Not only to make you notice it, but also to ensure you do not get the mark confused with another brand, and unintentionally purchase the other brand’s product.

You walk into a grocery store and are immediately presented with tens-of-thousands of product brands. You know exactly which aisle to go, which brand of dog food to put in your cart, your favorite brand of salsa and chips, and your preferred bottle of water. Even on a shelf full of similar products, we, as consumers, can quickly identify the brand of item we wish to purchase. Consumers learn to identify the expectation a brand represents — Meaning, it is the “source identifier” of a particular product or service and a consumer’s experience—good or bad—with that brand. Some examples of trademarks being source identifiers are those Golden Arches you occasionally drive by, identifying the source of a particular type of fast food. The orange and yellow shell sign at the corner of an intersection tells you that this location is the source of a certain "quality" of gas. 

Trademarks are the foundation of every business. Only through publicizing the marks can a business inform consumers of where that particular product or service is found. It is the continued public exposure to, and recognition of, a brand as well as the product or service it represents which will create repeat customers.

Understanding how trademarks work to attract consumers enables you, as a business owner or entrepreneur, to recognize how your trademark should be working for you. 

Ask yourself:

  • Are my trademarks working the way they should? 
  • Are they distinctive? 
  • Do consumers notice my mark amongst competitors? 
  • Am I losing business to competitors because consumers are getting my marks confused with others?
  • Am I properly identifying and protecting my trademarks, and other intellectual property?

To help answer these and additional questions you may have about trademarks you're currently using, or intend to use, we are pleased to offer the Intellectual Property Self-Audit Guide. Review the guide, and call us with any questions.

We look forward to assisting you.  


Laraine Burrell is an intellectual property attorney practicing with JDSA Law

[Content provided in this article should be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the advice of a relevant professional with any questions about any legal decision you are seeking to make.]

Kirk Esmond