Choosing a great brand name that is strong and protectable is not always easy. But what happens when you decide to protect that brand by filing for a trademark registration, and someone tries to stop you?
That is what happened to me when I chose Brandaide as the name for my first blog back in 2005. My firm filed an application with the U.S. Trademark Office to register BRANDAIDE. Little did I know that Johnson & Johnson would challenge me, claiming I could not register BRANDAIDE. J & J claimed my use of BRANDAIDE would weaken or be confused with Band-Aid®. I was momentarily crushed, but reason prevailed, and I decided I would apply my own expertise and represent myself in the effort to overcome the J & J claim. (This is never a great choice, even for a lawyer). Granted, I had the advantage of years of dealing with trademark issues, but this was different.
It was my baby, and I was emotionally attached.
It seemed to me that the words “band aid” had arguably become generic and therefore not enforceable against me. I mean how many times have you cut your finger and said. “I need a plastic adhesive bandage.” Or, do you say “Honey, can you grab me a band aid”? Genericide is what happens when the trademark is lost when the public usurps the trademark into the common language, like cellophone, zipper, or escalator. Genericide: A Silent Killer.
In the end, reason prevailed on both sides, since neither J & J or I was interested in a prolonged battle to prove that “Band-Aid” was generic. So, we entered into a consent agreement, in which I promised I would never attempt to play upon Band-Aid in my marketing efforts, and of course I was not going to market plastic adhesive bandages. That was fine by me since my vision was to always have Brandaide stand on its own identity, not be defined by an association with a plastic strip, no matter how useful when the need for one arises.
Well that was the first challenge, but not the last. You may have noticed Brandaide looks more like a newspaper masthead than an identifiable brand. It’s not for lack of trying. We can share some of the bad logo ideas I’ve said no to, ranging from barbed wire fences to branding irons. I haven’t given up and the new look and feel is in the air.
Choosing and creating a brand takes time. Be patient and enjoy the process. If you stumble and skin your knee in the process, have a Band-Aid® brand adhesive bandage handy.
Do you have your own brand name selection challenges? BRANDAIDE® would love to hear from you.