5 common mistakes when choosing a brand name

June 20, 2022

The main purpose of a brand is to distinguish its image from that of its competitors. However, when choosing a brand name, its creativity is subject to legal, marketing and communication constraints. First, remember that a trademark must meet certain legal requirements to be worthy of protection. In particular, a trademark must not be misleading, but must be legitimate and should be original. Often, it is the same mistakes that prevent a successful trademark registration!

Mistake 1:

Using a descriptive naming convention

The purpose of a trademark is to distinguish the products and services of a company from those of its competitors, and it must therefore not be descriptive. For example, "Shoes & Socks" cannot be registered as a trademark for children's shoes and clothing because it describes the items sold and thus registration would be invalid. In addition, a trademark is descriptive not only when it describes the goods or services, but also when it illustrates their inherent characteristics. Therefore, avoid the following descriptive features, for example:

  • The geographic origin of the product
  • Its quantity (1 kg, 100 g)
  • Its quality (yellow, excellent)
  • Its target (children, men, over 65)
  • Its type (fat fish)

Mistake 2:

Use of general terms and terms commonly used in commerce

An example of common terms are: super, top, ultra, plus. These terms are weak in communication and can be used by anyone. Therefore, no one can appropriate them or object if they are used by others.

Mistake 3:

Use of general or descriptive terms from foreign languages

Terms such as "cat", "lamp", "milk" or "baguette" are all descriptive. If a company wanted to expand its activities abroad or on a European level, this would be an obstacle. For a trademark application to be rejected, it is even sufficient for the brand name to be descriptive in only one of the EU languages.Our tip: mix foreign names with those in your own language. An example of a successful trademark is NUTELLA, which was created by merging two words, one English (NUT) and one Italian (ella).

Mistake 4:

Fear of neologisms and acronyms out of concern that they are not clear enough

Strong trademarks are often acronyms, i.e. terms formed from the first letters of several words. Brands based on such neologisms (neologisms of words) include ASOS (AsSeenOnScreen) and IKEA. IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad created the brand name by combining his initials IK with the first letters of the farm and village where he grew up: Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd. Other examples of brand names created by merging different words: MICROSOFT (MICRO + SOFT), INSTAGRAM (INSTAnt + teleGRAM), MILKA (MILch + KAkao) and NETFLIX (NET + FLIcks, which colloquially means movies). Legally, these types of trademarks are easier to protect.

Mistake 5:

Registering the trademark without first having it evaluated by an IP expert

It often happens that the creator of a brand name falls in love with their work without first having it evaluated by an expert. IP experts research whether their desired name can be protected or whether there are other obstacles - e.g. geographical restrictions - to its registration.

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William Gemkow
Member of the Executive Board, Kappus
Especially in the environment of fast-moving products, trends must be recognized early and implemented in recipes and production technologies for our customers - quickly but also legally secure. PATOffice and the team accompany us as partners from the inquiry to the execution. Research work – simple, effective and efficient.
All the brands and testimonials listed above are strategic partners of PATOffice | Europatent company.