Brand Identity Trademarking 101 – Part 3: How to Choose Brand Elements to Trademark

If you missed the first two parts of the Brand Identity Trademarking 101 series, which discussed what a trademark is and why it’s important as well as what can be trademarked, follow the preceding links to catch up. In Part 3, you learn how to choose brand identity elements to trademark so you maximize your chance for success both in obtaining trademark protection and developing a brand identity that accurately reflects your brand promise and resonates with consumers.

brand identity trademarkingStep 1: Understand What Can and Cannot Be Trademarked

The first step to developing your brand identity is to understand what can and cannot be trademarked. Follow the preceding link to learn how to choose a unique and distinctive name that can be considered for trademark protection.

Step 2: Conduct Brand Research

Once you’re familiar with names that you can and cannot trademark, it’s time to conduct some brand naming research to determine consumers’ perceptions of and reactions to your brand promise, position, and message. There are a variety of benefits of brand naming research as well as overall brand research, so invest enough time into gathering the data you need to make the best business decisions.

Step 3: Brainstorm Creative Ideas

Time to put on your creative thinking cap and use the information gathered during your preliminary brand research to develop a list of potential brand names. Short list the best names and conduct trademark searches on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website to determine if another business in your market already owns an active trademark on that name.

Step 4: Conduct More Brand Research

Next, prepare to get customer insights and reactions to your short-listed names again through additional brand naming research. Be sure to create prototype packaging, ads, or marketing materials to include in your research to gauge consumer perceptions.

registered trademarkStep 5: Finalize the Brand Elements

Based on the information gathered during your final brand research initiatives, pick your brand name and finalize your logo, slogan, and any other brand elements you want to trademark. Keep in mind, you should follow the steps above to develop your logo and slogan as well.

Step 6: Apply for Trademark Protection

Your final step is to begin using the trademark in commerce and apply for trademark protection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. That’s the subject of Part 4 of the Brand Identity Trademarking 101 series, so stay tuned.

If you missed previous parts of this series, follow the links below to read them now:

Images: Flickr, Flickr

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as and She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of, an award-winning blog for business women.