Lemmings R Us
There are obvious parallels between launching any new branded product and the arrival of a new baby. Think gestation period, inflexible deadline, exhausting launch, heralded arrival and of course naming.
Even if children are only in your peripheral vision, you will be aware that certain names are very popular. There is probably a maximum of two degrees of separation between you and a young William, Jack, Oliver, Joshua, Thomas, Lachlan, Cooper, Noah, Ethan, Lucas, Isabella, Ruby, Chloe, Olivia, Charlotte, Mia, Lily, Emily, Ella or Sienna (see Popular names NSW 2010).” />
I bet you know a Michael born in the 1960s.
Everyone regards their new baby as unique. Yet the baby name trends are not surprising given that we are influenced by fashion trends and understandably a degree of conservatism. However, the power of the collective conscious is alarming.
In a fascinating 2003 NY Times article Where Have All the Lisas Gone? Peggy Orenstein surveys the issues.
An interesting parallel between baby and brand names is that even if you consciously search for and select something truly unique, you will invariably soon find that the name appears on the top 50 list.
It is fair to say that many traders are operating on a level playing field. Marketing may have many functions but a common rudimentary aim is to stand out from the crowd. Although a name is only one aspect of the branding process it is very important.
There is an interesting twist in connection with the internet /domain names where generic names are king. Entirely descriptive names fetch stratospheric prices as they work well as the definitive address for the particular products or services.
Putting that anomaly aside, on trade mark first principles the aim is to be truly unique.
In trade mark terms, the ultimate is the invented word (think EXXON, VIAGRA, KODAK). These are incredibly difficult to create and typically represent considerable effort, expenditure and also the skills of professional wordsmiths. Other very distinctive trade marks are to use known words in connection with unrelated goods and services (think APPLE for computers, GREY GOOSE for vodka, DOMINO’s for pizza). By their very nature, the likelihood of another trader coincidentally adopting a similar name is remote.
Rather than pursuing these often clever invented or arbitrary names, many traders are attracted to surnames, acronyms, letters or descriptive names, all of which are problematic in trade mark terms.
Another alternative is to select a name which might allude to certain qualities of the goods or services and it is in this area that the trade mark zeitgeist is prevalent.
GREEN, OZONE, ENVIRO, ECO, E, SMART and INTELLIGENT are such old hat that they have even reached the Trade Marks Office Examiner’s manual as fashionable.
Like the efforts to choose a zany (but not too zany) name for your new born child, you can never be sure whether you are unwittingly tapping into the collective conscious and that your name is one of many.
The Trade Marks Register is one barometer of marketing activities as traders seek to protect their new brand baby. Savvy traders will search not just to identify a path to registration but also to identify what the crowd is up to and ensure that they stand apart.