As a founder, one of your primary roles is safeguarding what you build. Contracts, trademarking, copyright, all serve a purpose in your business and act as security for your intellectual goldmine. What many founders don’t realize right off is how many trademarks you need and why they’re important. At first glance, it may seem like simply trademarking your business name will suffice. But does that allow for maximum growth on a solid foundation? Let’s break down the answer and with business growth in mind.
The first trademark often filed is your business name. Because we often name a business first, many business owners will file this application with the USPTO as they start their business. As you begin your business, this may serve as all the protection you need! As you scale with time, however, you may become known for the elegant tagline on your website, a quippy statement used in marketing.
When this happens, it’s important to trademark the statement so it can remain identifiable to just your business. To understand the importance of a tagline moving into the spotlight (and when it’s wise to trademark it!) let’s take one of the most widely recognized taglines and break down how it came into existence.
Apple’s “Think Different” tagline served as the company’s slogan from 1997 to 2002 but didn’t always stand out as an iconic mark of one of the most innovative tech companies. According to Craig Tanimoto, the creative art director at the ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day agency responsible for the brilliant tagline, “Think Different” was born into existence when Apple only had 90 days of money left. They used “Think Different” in an ad campaign showcasing creative geniuses throughout history who stood out—Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr. Amelia Earhart, and Pablo Picasso, to name a few. It was so successful, it became synonymous with the company’s brand in daily conversation. Even though Apple doesn’t actively use this ad campaign or tagline right now, they renewed their trademark on “Think Different” in 2017 and have no obvious plans that they will ever let go of this iconic statement.
Aside from your business name and tagline, you’ll also want to consider trademarking the name of any signature trademarks or offerings. Whether you’ve developed an online program, a signature beauty product, or a new app, trademarking the identifiable aspects of that will serve to build that solid foundation of security. (If this specific offering also has a tagline or quippy statement, you’ll also want to consult with an attorney on trademarking that, as well.)
Finally, if you’re a founder with big dreams and aspirations, it’s always helpful to trademark your name. Think of it as safeguarding all aspects of your enterprise so no one can impersonate you with a competitive offer. (This is where you don’t want to model your business strategy after Apple, they neglected to trademark “Steve Jobs” and now an Italian menswear line trademarked it!) Ultimately, it’s up to you with how many trademarks you need and why they’re important but it will always serve your business to take your intellectual property seriously. Ready to consult with an attorney on trademarking? We’re here to help!
*This post is for general education and does not initiate an attorney-client relationship with us. We always recommend consulting a trademark attorney for your brand’s specific needs.