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Millions from the Mind
Alan R. Tripp
Trademark Asset Management
Once imbedded in the public consciousness, a trademark may prove to offer stronger protection than a patent. Consider Windex®. Originally marketed by the Drackett company which became a division of Bristol-Myers Squibb, the brand is now owned by S.C. Johnson. Through all of these ownerships, Windex has remained the top-seller among window and glass cleaners.
Over the years, many marketers have attacked Windex's leadership position with products that claimed to work better: Glass Wax, Glass Works, Glass Plus, etc. In my own experience, plain ammonia in water is just fine and Glass Works which contains vinegar is a close second. But neither my opinion nor the blandishments of all the competitors combined can dislodge the name Windex and the reach-for-it reaction that name triggers in shoppers' minds.
So valuable is a good trademark that it can be revived on new products even when the item it originally graced has gone by the boards. When Carter-Wallace was looking for a trademark for its newly licensed antiperspirant discovery some years back, its own staff and its advertising agency came up with over one hundred candidates. Those deemed best were incorporated in test advertisements and checked for brand memory-retention with consumers. Included in the brands was the trademark of a prior product that had fallen by the wayside: Arrid.
When the research dust settled, Arrid was the clear winner. It was not only a good suggestive name for an antiperspirant; it was a name that rang a distant bell for enough people to gain extra acceptance. The brand became Carter-Wallace's cash cow in the toiletries field and remained a winner for over twenty years.
I have seen this pattern consistently repeated. If substantial advertising money has been spent on a name--and if the original product under that name did not end in total public disgrace--it's usually better than an unknown new one. The public has a short memory or, at least, a vague one. Even the discovery of a little benzene in Perrier and recall of that product or the terrible Tylenol murders and subsequent product recall didn't suggest to their makers for one moment that they should change their brand names. Because both companies handled the problems forthrightly, consumer confidence was preserved and the brand images survived essentially intact.
Not only do good trademarks help a company maintain profit margins, not only do trademarks add substantially to the value of an acquisition, they also can be the source of revenue via licensing for non-competitive merchandise.
Take the trademark Everlast for example. Reminds you of boxing gloves, boxing trunks and boxing headgear, doesn't it? But if you think about it, it does make a statement, flatly and clearly, of strength and athleticism. And the mark, with its curved lettering topside, is distinctive. Why not put it on other sports clothing and equipment? Everlast Sports Manufacturing Co., rather than barge into product lines it wasn't really prepared to make and market, licensed the Everlast logo to U.S.A. Classic, Inc. and other marketers. At a 6 percent royalty rate, Everlast's licenses brought the company an annual six-figure income, most of which flowed directly to the bottom line.
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