Creating marks of distinction presents the challenge of coming up with the right symbol and combination of words to depict the brand in it’s best light. A good mark of distinction creates a favorable impression, reinforces brand values, and is memorable. Developing an original symbol (logo or design mark) offers the same set of challenges as developing a word mark.
Securing intellectual property rights makes this task more difficult because the new sport mark has to be original. Be sure neither the word mark nor design mark is like others within the same trade class. It’s best to avoid generic words and commonly used phrases because they cannot be registered as intellectual property. It could take many attempts to conceive of a name not already in use. You may think you have an original word mark only to find someone using it or something confusingly similar.
It is common practice within the sports world to use both a word mark and a graphic symbol to identify sports teams, sporting events, sports organizations, national and international sports governing bodies, and sporting goods. Word marks and design marks combined with an inspirational brand slogan distinguish your brand from other sports properties. (For more information see upcoming posts about Inspirational Brand Slogans and Slogans with Originality.) Keep in mind that the best mark in the world won’t help a poor product or service.
Before creating a new mark for a sports property, think about the qualities, characteristics and distinctive features of the product or service. Determine if it will represent a single property or a family of brands.
- What values are associated with the brand?
- How do these fit with the mission and vision of the sports entity?
- What are the brand’s main attributes and benefits?
- Does it have emotional appeal?
- Which elements are most compelling and memorable?
- Which ones are likely to inspire or evoke emotion?
- Who is your target audience?
With these thoughts in mind, begin brainstorming with the marketing and creative teams. Play around with words and graphic elements that convey the soul or spirit of the brand. Effective branding communicates this core essence in an emotional, distinctive and memorable fashion.
When creating a sport mark, try to be distinctive rather than descriptive. Distinctive terms can be suggestive, arbitrary or fanciful. When the words suggest a quality or characteristic of the brand they are considered suggestive. An arbitrary term bears no relationship to the product or service other than the meaning given to it. It can be a common word used in an unfamiliar way. A fanciful term is a word or phrase designed specifically to be a trademark (for example made-up words and phrases that do not describe a quality or characteristic).
Using descriptive words to develop a sport mark can be troublesome. Descriptive terms typically identify the product or service being marketed (e.g., feature, function or attribute). Descriptive words and phrases must acquire a secondary meaning related to the product or service before they can be registered.
In Part 3 of this series on Marks of Distinction, I write about Registering Marks of Distinction as trademarks and service marks.
© 2012 Anne Wall, All Rights Reserved.