Logo design tenets

There are two tenets to designing logo –
a. The logo must be so simple that anyone can draw from memory
b. The logo must be capable of being articulated.
The first tenet is about ease of creating awareness.  The easier it register with the memory, the faster the awareness building.  If an regular folk can replicate the logo by hand from memory – then the brand is onto something.  There is a trend towards minimalist approach in logo design.
The second tenet – you got to be able to say it out -.such as three stripes for ADIDAS, swoosh for NIKE, leaping cat for JAGUAR or PUMA, prancing horse for FERRARI, three point star for Mercedes Benz, rotating rotor or rondel for BMW.  This is connected to the awareness point.
If you can’t describe it or associate it to an idea, it is harder to register to one’s memory – and harder for awareness building.
Can anyone articulate this logo?
Prince (or the artiste formerly known as Prince) did this on purpose so that it is impossible to say out the logo – His Purpleness did not want to have a name or word that can be referenced to him or the logo.


To the marketeer, a generic word for a name such as CHEMIST WAREHOUSE conveys what the business has to offer – it promises the lowest possible price that you would get from a warehouse sale.
Trade mark law principles regard such descriptive words as non-distinctive and therefore do not warrant protection.
The law still allows such words to be registered if supported by long usage resulting in recognition as a brand by the public – this means the applicant has to submit significant evidence of use in order to satisfy the trade mark examiner that the word has come to be recognize as a badge of origin.
Even if the word gets registered, the scope of protection is extremely narrow or the registration is still vulnerable to revocation for lack of distinctiveness.  In order to infringe, the third party will have to use the same identical combination CHEMIST WAREHOUSE.  The law is concerned that no trader should have monopoly over words that are normally use in that trade – in this case CHEMIST or PHARMACY.
This means that MY CHEMIST will not be regarded as infringing even if some members of  the public might have initially associated MY CHEMIST with CHEMIST WAREHOUSE.
CHEMIST WAREHOUSE needs to re brand.  Brand Conscious offer this suggestion off the cuff – CHEMWARE.
It is not just about selling cheap to win at the price point and therefore dispense with the need for branding.  Over time, its brand has built up trust and familiarity, in lawyer parlance goodwill.  So it is important to have a unique badge of origin to protect that goodwill from being robbed by a lookalike competitor.  Competing on price alone is a bottomless pit.  CHEMIST WAREHOUSE needs to learn its lesson from the case it lost against DIRECT CHEMIST OUTLET.

Less is More in TM protection

CHRISTIAN DIOR used to brand his product line CHRISTIAN DIOR.
The branding has largely moved to DIOR standalone.
Let’s  consider which TM registration gives broader protection CHRISTIAN DIOR or DIOR.  Assuming there is a third party using RONALDO DIOR. Can either registration (CHRISTIAN DIOR or DIOR) be used to stop RICARDO DIOR.
RICARDO DIOR and CHRISTIAN DIOR when compared next to each other is unlikely to be considered similar since they differ in their first elements – under most trade mark principles, the first element is considered as the dominant element and therefore given greater weight when comparing for similarity or difference.
RICARDO DIOR when coming up against DIOR – RICARDO DIOR has taken the entire registered mark DIOR.  RICARDO DIOR is likely to be considered as similar and adding RONALDO to DIOR will not avoid this.
An application of the less is more principle.
The same goes for this examples –

Registration should just be for OMC even if use is OMC FARM FRESH DAIRY –

FARM FRESH DAIRY are redundant for purposes of trade mark protection.

FRESH should be drop from RHODY FRESH and DAIRY FARMERERS OF WASHINGTON should be omitted – registration should just be for PRIDE.  In later blog, Brand Conscious will discuss whether the logo should be registered as well.

Brand integrity – KARL LAGERFELD


Brand Conscious noticed that Mr Lagerfeld uses the names separately – KARL and LAGERFELD for his different product lines.

There are product lines that use only KARL. The last name LAGERFELD seems to be made to play second fiddle.  The ABOUT PAGE says that LAGERFELD is for a line of casual but refined urban menswear – and premium fragrances, while KARL is the name for the women’s flagship store under KARL.com.

There is no or very little precedence for this approach in branding and it may not be wise when the value is still in the name KARL LAGERFELD combined.  

Of the luxury brands that Brand Conscious is aware of, these are either two names or just the last name of the designer – seldom the first name because these are  common in most cases.  Last names such as DUNHILL, DIOR, LANVIN and HERMES adopted for obvious reason that they are unique compared to  the first names of their respective founders – Alfred, Christian, Jeanne and Thierry.  Use of last names evokes an air of heritage.

The concern with the KARL LAGERFELD strategy in not preserving the brand integrity rule is discussed here.

Brand Conscious blogged here about KARL LAGERFELD’s formidable trademark protection arsenal – having registered  KARL LAGERFELD and then individual TM registrations for KARL and LAGERFELD.  He took the same approach with domain names – controlling KARL.COM and LAGERFELD.COM.

This is the ideal strategy for two name trade marks  – that is on the brand protection front.  Brand protection against copycats is different from branding strategy which is about putting out there an enduring brand associated with certain expectations that the badge has come to be associated with.

Brand extension – MASTER CHEF

Depending on who you speak to, it can either be no one saw it coming or it is just a matter of time.
This Chinese restaurant was spotted in an Australian suburb.

In order for the producers of MasterChef to have legal ground to demand this business to stop using the name, they will need to register the MasterChef mark specifying restaurant services in class 43, in addition to class 41 relating to TV content production.  For an explanation of classification of goods and services, please read TM Law Basics page.

But wait, wouldn’t the tort of passing off help get a court order to stop this business from riding on the TV show fame?  The tort of Passing Off does not depend on trade mark registration – to establish passing off, necessary to show that the unwelcomed competiton brought about confusion or mistaken association with the earlier established business.   The key here is confusion  – no confusion, no case.

But no self respecting Australian will admit that he or she will be misled into believing that this outlet has passed muster with Gordon  chef-from-hell Ramsay.
Also there is the category of trade mark misuse that the courts will consider as not capable of misleading the public – parody trade marks.   The parody defense argument goes like this … the use of  MASTER CHEF by the restaurant is so outrageous that they can’t be taken seriously – no one in his or her right mind will eat at this restaurant and be mistaken or eat at the restaurant at all.  In other words, the defense’s argument is that their establishment is a joke.  A common fact pattern giving rise to parody defense is T-shirt prints.
Even if counsel is to recommend this defense in the client’s best interest, it may not be good for long term credibility, assuming that the restaurant can survive the short term.
Still, parody defense is a possibility, and it would strengthen the parody defense by dishing out sustained bad cooking – it has to be so bad that no reasonable person will think that the restaurant is connected to its namesake TV show or that it can’t be serious in wanting to live up to this tall order name.
Trade mark registration designating the appropriate goods is still the best policy.  The producer should apply to register MasterChef for restaurant services and related product/services such as pepper shaker and all sort of kitchen ware worth to tap the MasterChef while it is still hot.
Brand Conscious blogged here that it is important to anticipate the possible line extension in related goods or services, and get registration to cover related services.

The same principle applies.

Brand Conscious hopes to sample this restaurant’s mastery dishes soon and pick up some Instagram worthy bragging rights.

KARL LAGERFELD – brand protection savvy

Brand Conscious blogged here about this rule –  CHRISTIAN DIOR, CALVIN KLEIN and RALPH LAUREN are double names brand or trade mark; and they should register their respective individual names or the most prominent element.

KARL LAGERFELD’s approach is consistent with the above rule.


For his trade mark registrations, Mr Karl Lagerfeld’s company secured registration for KARL, LAGERFELD separately as well as the combined terms KARL LAGERFELD.



Source – http://www.asean-tmview.org/tmview/welcome

KARL LAGERFELD is his branding; next down the scale would be the more distinctive LAGEFELD followed by the more common place KARL.  But kudos to him for securing exclusivity to KARL in the fashion space such as class 25 goods (apparels) and class 3 goods (perfume and toiletries)

The same goes for domain name registrations.  Interestingly, KARL LAGEFELD secured domain name for KARL.COM.   KARL is definitely easier to remember and spelt correctly than LAGERFELD.   He also secured domain name for LAGERFELD.com which directs traffic to KARL.COM.

Looks like he got it all figured out on the brand protection front.

Two Names Brands


Either of the two component is valuable turf in protecting against competitors from encroachment into their moat.

For some of these, it make sense to focus on one of the two – the most distinctive one from CHRISTIAN DIOR is DIOR.  CALVIN KLEIN could not assert exclusivity to the KLEIN name because of another competitor ANNE KLEIN appeared to have develop her label independently.

It is important to consider registering each of the two names separately.

screenshot_1In Singapore, Richemont (who owns Baume & Mercier) was not able to stop a third party JEAN MERCIER from registration

Richemont’s adversary Goldlion (applicant for JEAN MERCIER) argues that “There is no registration where the word “Mercier” is the sole feature in the mark.”

Baume & Mercier therefore could not block JEAN MERCIER from getting registered, so the Singapore High Court says.

Lesson learned – double names brand or trade mark should register the their respective individual names or the most prominent element.  These are what trade mark lawyers call defensive registrations.

For an example that went with this approach – read this.

Legacy in bank names / names with baggage

It started with Mitsubishi Bank and Bank of Tokyo.
Both decent names for banks.
They merged and became Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi.
Then UFJ came along and made three resulting in the name Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. UFJ.
It gets worse – its self styled branding is MUFG.
But folks in the bank call themselves BTMU.   So do the clients.
So why still bother to continue with the self styled brand MUFG.  These initials come too close to that English Football club – or was it in their sub-consciousness, when developing MUFG .
A chronic case of identity crisis it seems.
It is important to keep the story telling away from your brand name.  For services industry, the corporate entity name is usually its brand as well.  Clients get assurance that they are served by a certain organization – the corporate name is usually the brand.  So it is important to get the corporate identity right.
Contrast with consumer products company where their corporate entity name is not the same as their product line brands.
Legacy in naming is not ideal and sometimes dangerous resulting a patchy or patched up name – BANK OF TOKYO – MITSUBISHI UFJ.

Rule of Under Two Words

As a rule of thumb, brands should not have more than two words.  In moving from KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN to KFC, the Colonel is observing this rule – http://chickenchattin.kfc.com/kfc-name-change-history/

A coffee chain in South East Asia, THE COFFEE BEAN AND TEA LEAF has six words in its name.  It is long even for a slogan.

Although said to be established in 1963, it may still be oblivious to its naming problem.  It is telling that its domain name is coffeebean.com and it simply has no idea what to call itself on the home page and at another branch in Jakarta Indonesia where it calls itself THE COFFEE BEAN.

It is in an unenviable position. CBTL is a mouthful.  It might be ok as reference to the initials of partners of your regular go to law firm because most of us lay folks probably call on lawyers no more than three times a year unless you are Donald Trump.  Try seeing, “I will see you at CBTL nine am sharp.. try not to get lost ok”

TCB as initials for THE COFFEE BEAN is not good because there is already another confused kid coffee joint in Singapore called TCC also with an identity crisis.  They (TCC) sometimes think that they are THE COFFEE CONNECTION and sometimes THE CONNOISSEUR CONCERTO, the latter when they are feeling flash.  It saves itself from THE COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF curse by moving to the TCC.  Maybe KFC rebrand gave them the confidence.   They too are observing the Rule of Under Two Words.

The tea leaf and coffee bean idea has been used by this business in Australia.
This is markedly shorter than THE COFFEE BEAN AND TEA LEAF.
Trying saying LEAF AND BEAN and then THE COFFEE BEAN AND TEA LEAF.  Let’s meet at the…..
It is always about the consumer, what would the consumer call you and talking about you.




It seems to me that we are never short of negative demonstration with coffee beans.


REAL BEAN as presented on this poster would be thought as a trade mark or trade indicia. Or did the trader intended REAL BEAN as a selling point, that the beans are not fake – if so, not much flattery there.  Real beans is a minimum in coffee crazy Melbourne unless your coffee is on tap from Star Trek’s replicator.  I will take my chances with Unreal Bean as a brand name anytime.