Trademarks are useful for businesses looking to distinguish what they provide from the goods or services provided by competitors. Some businesses are likely to benefit from their trademarks more than others, but any business making the decision to define a brand needs to make important decisions about their trademarks from the very beginning.
As a business grows, the value and consistency of its trademarks can be affected. In some cases, a shift in business strategy will render old marks less valuable. As your marketing efforts expand, a disconnect between marketing strategies and trademark registrations can erode or destroy the value of the mark or your ability to protect it. Coordination is the key to maximizing the value of your trademarks.
Case In Point
A well-known restaurant franchise has recently decided to re-brand their operation. Dunkin' Donuts has decided to drop the term "Donuts" from its restaurants and marketing. It is a bold decision from a franchise with thousands of locations all across the country and around the world.
The updated branding will not abandon the foundation built by Dunkin' Donuts over nearly 70 years of operation. The goal is to emphasize the company's efforts to modernize, prioritizing the speedy delivery of its popular coffee, while still maintaining elements that people associate with the brand. It is an attempt to use trademarks to highlight the new marketing strategy, while still maintaining as much of the old value as possible.
It is too early to tell whether Dunkin' will be a more successful brand strategy than Dunkin' Donuts. The change might inspire competitors to attempt to eat into the customer base that valued Dunkin' Donuts primarily as a bakery. The point is that the company's re-branding was done in conjunction with marketing efforts, rather than as a response to them.
Your branding efforts, including your trademark strategy, should help you build the business you want. They should not constrain you in making the right decisions for the future. With experienced business and intellectual property guidance, you can ensure that your efforts are not wasted in building a brand that complements and enhances your growth strategy.