Law Office of Jason H. Rosenblum, PLLC

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My Trademark’s a Dud… Now What? (Spoiler: You Don’t Have to Start Over!)

You poured your heart into creating your brand. You crafted a name you thought was catchy and designed a logo that felt just right. Finally, you registered that trademark with a mix of excitement and relief.

Then… crickets. Customers seem confused. They don’t “get” what the name has to do with your business. It might even turn them off a little. Ouch.

Launching a brand is hard enough, and realizing your trademark isn’t hitting the mark can certainly be a gut punch. But don’t scrap everything just yet. Let’s figure out why your trademark is falling flat and what you can do about it.

Troubleshooting: Why the Disconnect?

Before panicking, get investigative. Here’s how to dig deeper:

  • Market Research 101: Talk to potential customers and ask them for honest feedback. Find out what is the first impression they get from your trademark, if it makes sense for your business, etc.
  • Ask a Stranger: Friends and potential clients are great, but they might not give the most critical feedback. Find someone who’ll be brutally honest about whether your trademark is clear, memorable, and fits your niche.
  • The Competition Factor: Is your trademark too similar to competitors? Sometimes blending in isn’t a good thing. This is another thing to explore in your market research.

Potential Problems (And How to Fix Them):

Once you understand why your trademark isn’t resonating, you can start brainstorming solutions. Here are some potential problems that might be tripping you up:

  • It’s Just Confusing: If people have to think too hard, you’ve lost them. Simplicity is often key.

  • Doesn’t Fit the Vibe: Maybe your trademark is modern and sleek, but your target audience wants something cozy and traditional. Mismatched vibes cause confusion.

  • Negative Associations: Did you do a thorough check? Your trademark might have unintended meanings in other languages, cultures, or slang.
    •  Cultural Insensitivity: Symbols, imagery, or names that work fine in one culture could have negative or offensive meanings in others.
    • Unexpected Pronunciation: A name might read well but sound unfortunate or humorous when spoken aloud in a different language.
      • Examples:
        • Chevrolet Nova: The classic example. In Spanish, “no va” means “doesn’t go”, not exactly a great tagline for selling cars.
        • Ford Pinto: While not specific to Spanish, in some Brazilian Portuguese slang, “pinto” can be a vulgar term for male genitalia.
        • Coors Brewing Company: “Turn it loose” as a slogan sounded oddly like a vulgar phrase in French.
        • Clairol Mist Stick (hair curling iron): Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, “mist” has an unpleasant association in some European languages.
        • Gerber (baby food): The French verb “gerber” translates closely to “to vomit”. Certainly not the association you want with baby products.

The “Start Over” Decision: Is It Really Necessary?

Sometimes a refresh is all you need. Can you tweak your trademark, add a tagline, or use design elements to create better context? It might save you the hassle of full-on rebranding.

But if the issues run deeper, it’s okay to admit a fresh start is the wiser move. A trademark should work for you, not against you.

We Get It: Trademarks Are Tough!

Crafting an effective trademark is an art and a science. If you’re struggling, please know that you’re not alone. Having an experienced trademark attorney involved can make a huge difference. If you’d like assistance working through the rebrand or refresh process, we are here to help. Call us at (888) 666-0062 or click here to schedule an Initial Discovery & Strategy Session online and let us help you troubleshoot your existing trademark or guide you through creating a new one that truly connects with your customers.