As your business takes off, you’ll need to start thinking about protecting your assets and distinguishing yourself in the marketplace. The best way to accomplish both? Applying for a trademark.
Here’s how the United States Trademark and Patents Office defines a trademark:
“A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.”
Trademarks protect you from those who would try to illicitly profit off of your brand. And when it comes to defending your brand, you generally have two different assets to protect: Your company name and your company logo.
So, why not just trademark both and call it a day?
Unfortunately, most budding entrepreneurs and cash-strapped small businesses don’t have the overhead to apply for multiple trademarks. The combined cost of the attorney, application fees, and registration fees can easily run into the thousands of dollars. Plus, logos and company names cannot be trademarked together—they require two separate filings. This means that if you can’t afford multiple trademarks, you’ll have to choose where to invest your dollars.
Which Asset Should I Trademark?
Getting down to brass tacks, the right answer is almost always trademarking your company name.
To understand why, we need to review what protections are afforded by trademarking each asset:
- Trademarking a logo provides specific protection for the design, size, shape, and styling of that logo. You’ll be protected when other businesses try to imitate your logo—and that’s about it. While a logo can be great for brand recognition, most startups and individual product sellers will likely go through several logo iterations as their company scales. Every time you update your logo, you’ll need to reapply for a new trademark.
- On the other hand, registering the company name means that you’re trademarking the specific words that form the foundation of your brand. Businesses tend to be more consistent with their names than their logos, which reduces the need to reapply for trademarks. On top of that, it’s far more common for other businesses to inadvertently copy a branded name rather than a logo; when this happens, you’ll want legal protection should litigation arise.
If you can afford to trademark both your name and your logo, great! Go for it. But when your budget is a concern, remember that your name is your most important asset. Protect your good name first, and work on protecting your other assets when you can afford to.
brandHEAVY is a strategic creative studio specializing in branding, packaging design, and product marketing. Our mission is to take your product and create personalized branding solutions that create instant brand recognition. Contact us for more information about how we can help you build a design your customers will love!