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Without Your Name... Can Be A Big Branding Pain!
Copyright 2007 by Erin Ferree
I often get asked to develop a small business's logo as
a symbol-only logo. But for many small businesses, this
isn't the right choice for a couple of reasons.
Designing a symbol-only logo is a much more complicated
(and often more expensive) process, because the symbol
- Carry a lot more meaning - there's no text to help
explain the business. It's important that your logo has
some meaning and a role in explaining your business -
and that's a lot for a little symbol to do all by
- Be entirely unique all on its' own. I don't need to
tell you that there are a whole lot of logos out there.
A lot of the basic shapes - and even some of the more
complicated ones - are already "owned" by big
corporations. But you can still use variations or
combinations of those shapes when they're designed into
a logo with your company name.
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1. First of all, it's hard for a designer to comprehensively
research all of the other trademarked logos just to see what
you're up against. However, the Trademark Office has more
thorough tools and methods of researching the other existing
logos out there and they might find one that you overlooked.
2. Secondly, logos and trademarks can be a bit subjective.
Just because you and your designer think that the design
that you've created doesn't infringe on other logos, the
Trademark Office might reject your application based on
their interpretation of "similarity"
3. And you're not just worrying about what the Trademark
Office thinks. Any other business with an existing trademark
could also challenge your application. They can even ask you
to cease-and-desist using your logo after it has been
trademarked if they held their trademark to a similar logo
first. While surrendering might not seem like such a bad
thing, remember that you'd also have to destroy any existing
printed collateral, forfeit your trademark (and the
trademarking process isn't cheap!) and redesign all of your
materials. You'll also lose the equity and memorability that
you will have built up in your logo if you do have to
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If you do finally manage to design and trademark a
symbol-only logo, you'll have to be extra-vigilant about
making sure that other companies don't design a mark that's
similar to yours. You are ultimately responsible for
"policing" your own trademark and will have to stay
up-to-date on trademark applications.
Alternately, you could hire someone to keep an eye on new
trademarks for you but that can be expensive.
You can easily avoid all of these complications by designing
a combination logo that includes both a symbol and your
company name. Once you've designed your combination logo,
you should always use the components together. This helps
avoid potential legal issues like those mentioned above.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Erin Ferree is a brand identity and marketing design strategist who
creates big visibility for small businesses. Through her customized
marketing and brand identity packages, Erin helps her clients design
effective websites that help them extend their brands, bring in new
clients and make sales.
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