How to do a quick "Stress Test" on your brand

Attorney Michael Lasky shares how to evaluate your brand.

Contact Michael Lasky

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (404) 441-1750 or (952) 253-4106


If you watched any of my videos, you know that I believe in strong brands. They’re important because they can give you momentum in your  next sale and they can give you greater margins and if you’re a privately held company it can be all the difference between whether you can sell the company or not. But how do you know if you have a strong brand? So I’ve created a really simple stress test and here’s how it works.

The question is, is your brand strong enough to defend it against people who are not counterfeiters, they’re not knocking you  off exactly but something close do you have strength of the breadth of your brand and that’s going to be critical in order to know that your brand is valuable and enforceable. So we’ll use the brand spectrum to understand that. At the far end, we have the very strong brands, which are in two classifications; words that have been made up, Google, Xerox, and so forth and words that are actually real but have nothing to do with the subject matter; Amazon, Yahoo! Have nothing to do with what they sell those are both very strong.

Now let’s go to the far end. There’s a group called merely descriptive and generic. It’s the same term it means the same thing. They are not trademarks, they are not brands they are just words. They are descriptive words and they are so descriptive that you cannot own them. So if your brand falls here you’ve got a problem. So ketchup for ketchup, battery store for battery store yeah, these are problems.

IN the middle is kind of a battleground and the _____ is suggestive. These are words that are not truly arbitrary but they don’t give away the whole store. So Pampers tells you a little bit, very vaguely about the product but not enough to know what the product would be. And then there’s this big group where it is also a problem area, which is descriptive. They are not generic they don’t totally describe the product. They are not clever and cagey. They describe but not – they’re at the point that in the United States, they can be brands in certain circumstances but they will have very narrow enforceability meaning they’re very, very weak.

And what you want to do is you want to place your brand on this chart and see where you stand, so take a look at these example. These are very descriptive trademarks. They’re not generics they are brands but they’re going to be very narrow in terms of enforceability they’re very weak. So is your brand strong enough to defend against competitors who are not exact? Well, take this example, let’s suppose you were the first company to come up with the idea of I’ll park the car away from the airport and they’ll drive me to the airport and I’ll save money. What shall call it? How about park and then you fly, we’ll skip the and then and there you have it, Park ‘NFly. Very weak trademark. So what happens? You don’t’ have a patent on the idea and here they come, everybody else is doing the same thing and Park ‘N Go is one of those that sometimes you pull up to the wrong one you can’t remember which it is. Parking Spot, Fast Park, Easy Park, oh, there’s two that are not generic, they’re not even descriptive WallyPark and PeachyPark. Nothing whatsoever to do with parking, obviously, the word park is there but that’s okay. That’s not the trademark.

Now in the United States we draw a dividing line between merely descriptive and generic and descriptive and somewhere on the descriptive side those can be trademarks, albeit weak, but they can be with sufficient energy, with sufficient marketing so people will recognize them as your brand. If you have aspirations of having an international brand you’re dividing line is moved. It is not at descriptive it’s between descriptive and suggestive, which means so if you’re brand is here and you’re okay in the United States and it might not be okay in some other country you have a bigger problem than you thought you had in the first case.

So is your brand strong enough to keep others at bay? Put it on the chart and see where it stands. If it’s not strong enough you might want to reconsider how to make it stronger.

You want to know more about this, go to the site that you saw this video and there is another video called Unified IP Strategy and that will give you the whole story. I hope this was helpful and good luck with the stress test.