All brands are trademarks but not all trademarks are brands.
Clock Tower Law Group frequently ends up counseling clients on how to choose a good trademark.
In some cases, it is impossible to counsel clients about trademarks without also counseling about branding. Although not all trademarks are brands (e.g. slogans and taglines – which can be trademarks – are likely not brands), all brands can be trademarks. This is where my business experience comes in handy. From 1995 to 2001, I worked for various Internet companies, primarily in various marketing positions. As part of my real world experience, I had the pleasure of creating new brands, refining other brands, phasing brands in, and phasing brands out.
For example, I spent four years at Verio (1997-2001), and I often said that everybody at Verio did the same thing: turned 50 of something into one of something. Verio was founded as an acquisition-based company (using a roll-up business model) that purchased about 50 business-oriented Internet service providers (ISPs) and web hosting companies. The human resources department spent its time turning 50 HR systems into one, the billing department spent its time turning 50 billing systems into one, the IT department spent its time turning 50 networks into one, the marketing department spent its time turning 50 brands into one, etc. So Boston’s Pioneer Global (one of the first ISPs purchased by Verio, and where I started before moving to Verio’s Denver headquarters) went through the following brand changes:
- PioneerGlobal, a Verio company
- Verio New England, formerly PioneerGlobal
- Verio Northeast
Multiply the above list by 50 and you can see the branding challenge we faced at Verio. And then Verio was sold to Japan’s NTT for $6 billion cash (still, I believe, the largest cash deal in Internet history) and the brand name changed again to “Verio, an NTT Communications Company.”
The excellent book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding,” by Al Ries and Laura Ries, states that “A branding program should be designed to differentiate your cow from all of the other cattle on the range. Even if all the cattle on the range look pretty much alike.” Good branding can separate your cow from the other cattle, but many companies fail to follow Ries and Ries’s immutable laws. If you choose a good brand by following the guidance given by Ries and Ries, then you will also end up with a good trademark for your brand.