A mark selected for a premium brand will most likely differ from a mark selected for a product that aims at economy minded consumers. Similarly, high tech marks that appeal to a tech savvy portion of the market may be meaningless to the less technically educated consumers. Artistic mark selection factors include: color, sound, and commercial impression. For example, some marks can be a solid performance oriented impression (e.g., Valvoline for motor oil), while others focus on softer, more subtle aspects of a product (e.g., Snuggle for fabric softener). Legal considerations and mark selection concerns consist of: whether a mark is capable of distinguishing goods and services, the availability of a mark for exclusive use with a particular product or service, and the likelihood of confusion among ordinary consumers about the source of origin of the goods and services. Fanciful and arbitrary elements make a mark easily registrable. Elements of marks that require some showing of distinctiveness are those that are suggestive and descriptive. Marks which are typically not registrable are those that are highly descriptive or generic.
The purpose of a mark is to associate a particular goods and services with the brand. Marks run the range from meaningless, fanciful marks (e.g., Xerox, Kodak) to those which describe a product or its features. Fanciful marks have no meaning in any context other than with particular goods and services. Fanciful marks create the strongest association between the brand and the goods in the mind of the consumer because the fanciful mark has no other meaning, however one who adopts a fanciful mark faces an uphill battle to establish a connection in the minds of the consumer between the mark identifying the brand and the goods and services sold under the mark. Building up consumer awareness in such invented terms through advertising and other means is a time-consuming and often expensive task. Such marks, however, can be quite strong. When plans include a widespread advertising campaign and long-term use of the mark for specific product lines, selecting a fanciful name is a highly effective branding strategy.
Mark selection should also consider the need of other market players to use all or a portion of the selected mark. One should avoid selecting a market is merely descriptive of the goods and services. Descriptive marks failed to distinguish the brand because other players in the same market need and can use the same words and phrases to describe their products and services. Thus for example while “the fruit stand” might seem like a clever name for freestanding outlet that merchandises fresh fruit, one would not adopt the term as a trademark for fruit vending services because the term fruit stand is widely used for just such services. However, “the fruit stand” might be good trademark for some other line of goods or services such as a comic strip. The context in which the mark will be used can be key to selecting a mark.
Most merchants select a mark that falls somewhere along the spectrum between the extremes of fanciful and merely descriptive. Such marks are suggestive of the goods and services, without being merely descriptive. Coppertone for suntan oil and Chicken of the Sea for tuna fish are examples of suggestive marks.