Striving for Meaningfully Uniqueness is a foundation of Innovation. And most often Meaningfully Uniqueness is equated with the standards of patentability.
But what about portions of your innovation that perhaps cannot be patented? What about Meaningfully Uniqueness in your marketing and branding?
As a leader, set an example and allow your employees to break beyond the traditional branding and think if meaningfully unique ways to differentiate your products and services with your customers.
Most often when it comes to branding and trademarking, the focus is on the name or logo of the product or service. Even color, the famous example being Owens-Corning’s pink color for insulation, is protectable. In other words, the focus is primarily on the visual sense. However, there are at least four more senses you can focus on in making your branding effective and protected.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has a long history of protecting sounds for products and services, including:
Homer Simpson’s “D’oh” - protected for entertainment services
AAMCO - protected for auto repair services
Five Chirps - software for notifying consumers of live weather conditions
2. Scent &Taste
There have been numerous attempts to recently to protect scents or tastes of products. One example was peppermint for a particular pharmaceutical, and a particular flavor of pizza. As you can imagine, these failed for two big reasons.
In particular, they failed for the same reason that some more traditional trademarks fail. Trademarks must be able to:
i) Serve as a source identifier - the consumer recognizes where the product or service comes from based on the trademark; and
ii) The trademark is distinctive.
And often trademark applications fail for not meeting both of those standards. Arguable, scent and taste can serve as a source identifier and be distinctive to consumers. One successful attempt was with “Plumeria scent” for sewing thread was registered in 1990.
The touch, or feel or tactile elements, of a product can be distinctive. One company protected the “velvet textured covering on the surface of a bottle of wine” in US Registration No. 3155702.
I hope these things above sparked some ideas for new trademarks. Be sure the trademark you’re pursuing matches the what makes the brand meaningfully unique, or else customers won’t care. Some final thoughts for you to consider…
How can you enable your employees and colleagues to make your protected branding
i) more meaningfully unique (and match the meaningfully uniqueness of your innovation); AND
ii) something that encourages your consumers to spend money on your products and services?