What makes a strong brand (legally)?


You are choosing a new brand for your flagship product.  It could be a word.  It could be that logo you’ve been working on.  But what makes your brand strong?  Do your customers recognise that goods or services bearing that brand emanate from you?  Importantly, will the recognition lead to repeat business?

Let’s start with the fundamentals.  A trade mark is a sign which may distinguish one trader’s goods and/or services from another’s.

Ideally, a business would select a mark which is very distinctive, and is not descriptive of the goods or services on offer.  Some companies invent words:

  • KODAK (photographic products)
  • GOOGLE (search engine services)

A dictionary defined word can also function as a trade mark.  This is particularly so if that mark has no immediate connection with the goods and services being provided.  Well-known examples of dictionary-defined words functioning as trade marks include:

  • APPLE (computer products)
  • GAP (clothing and retail services)

Many businesses adopt marks which are suggestive.  They allude to the nature of the product or service, or include some kind of laudatory implication, referring to a quality of the product or service being provided.  For instance:


If a mark is entirely descriptive it may not be distinctive and may not be deemed capable of functioning as a trade mark. A mark like this can be much more difficult to protect.  Hence, such names are often best avoided, particularly if you want the benefit of registered trade mark protection.

Answer last updated: 17 Jan 2018