Trademark or Brand?

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Lars L. Christensen
Lars L. Christensen

Industrial designer / Partner
Cand. Arch ID

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There is no easy way for making your company’s brands credible or easy to remember.

In this issue of DNLab we take a look at the mechanisms which increase your company’s visibility and credibility.

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Weber Grill and Walkman

If you are going to sum up success in a single brand in2012, it could easily be by mentioning the barbecue grillgiant Weber.The first Weber grill saw the light of day at Weber BrothersMetal Works in Chicago in 1956. By the turn of the century it had completely altered the way Europeans grill their food. The traditional rectangular open charcoal and gas grills of the European patios have been replaced by the much more expensive dome-shaped kettle grills. Since then the Weber brand has expanded to barbecue sauces,grill accessories, garden lamps and everything imaginable related to barbecues.The wide expansion of brand is debatable as the wide variety of products can devalue the main core products, but the purchasing power of the brand is clearly illustrated.Weber’s total domination is also particularly visible in the media where even the ad-free public service TV channels have been heavily criticized for advertising the brand.
The Weber name has become so synonymous with circular kettle grills that Weber grills are mentioned as if they are the only kettle grill on the market. Any circular grill is now called a Weber grill.At the end of the 70’s SONY found the opposite effect when they introduced the Walkman, a mobile music cassette player that could be clipped onto your belt or carried in a pocket. The actual name Walkman is one of SONY’s registered trademarks. But colloquially the name Walkman quickly became known as a product type, including all kinds of mobile players of about that size and countless brands. Suddenly the SONY brand and the word Walkman were separated not associated with each other. In other words SONY experienced the opposite reaction from Weber. It is very difficult to control the situation when a company’st rademark is widely known, but becomes dissociated with actual brand.
walkman weber


The Swan, the Flower and Other European Marks

It isn’t only price and the description of contents which
help consumers in their daily shopping. Symbols of product
standards such as the European Swan mark, the Flower
mark, the Scandinavian O mark and many more are applied
to everything from fruit to footwear.
In Danish clothes shops you can find 12 different standard
marks and in department for organic food there are 8 different
national and international standard marks which all
claim to ensure you taking the best choice.
When the red O mark was introduced the sale of organic
foods soared, but, we have reached the point, where
consumers don’t care anymore, according to Professor Jan
Fuglsang at the Metropolitan University College.
“All products can get a standards mark almost
no matter how disgusting a quality they have.
Individually each standards mark has an admirable
aim of improving foodstuff quality, but
together they erode and cancel out what each
of them are trying to achieve.” Intones Jan
In his opinion, we have to get rid of all the standard marks
and use our common sense and understanding of what
good food quality is all about.
But, on the other hand …
The value of the Danish O mark is really telling on the
export market. The export of Danish organic produce trebled
between 2005 and 2009. Klaus Bentzen who is Export
Director of the Danish Association of Organic Agriculture is
of the opinion that the sharp rise was due to the standards
represented in organic farming being ahead of the market.
”We are 5 – 6 years ahead or our close competitors and
our quality organic production is in a much higher gear
that the neighboring countries.” He adds.
What was typical for dairy and meat products to be organic
in their production but now the potential is spreading
quickly to vegetable and other sectors. Both supermarket
chains and restaurants have opened their eyes to increased
quality. The positive publicity of “the Nordic Kitchen”
and the crowning of Danish restaurant “Noma” as the
world’s best restaurant have all contributed to establishing
the Scandinavian mark in the eyes of the world.
“Danish Organic farming has become such a strong brand
in Europe. When you say Organic Denmark in Germany
or Sweden it is synonymous with quality and professionalism.
At the same time, the companies who are behind the
O mark really do have a strong consumer focus in their
Sources: Jobindex: Article by Ulla Oppermann Blankholm,
Eksport af Dansk Økologi Tredoblet
Article by Astrid Laerke Rantorp, TAENK, Danish Consumer


Hurrah – We Won!

There are just a handful of international design awards
which are literally worth their weight in gold. Red Dot and
iF Design Award from Germany, Good Design in the USA
and G-Mark in Japan all belong to this elite group.
The awards have to be seen as being the industrial design
equivalent to the Oscars in the film industry. There are
many different categories but a common theme is that
they all honor excellence in their own given discipline.
Design awards are especially important for companies who
are lesser known. An award can open up completely new
markets and really double turnover and sales. A design
award signals more than just the appearance of the product.
Good design usually means that the product has been
thought through and optimized to give the best value for
The good appearance is just the outward result of
that good inner planning and design. And you don’t have
to be called Samsung or SONY to achieve that.
On overseas markets the international design award work
wonders. Products developed in Taiwan are registered
with the German design awards – not in order to be sold
in Germany – but to be marketed in China. In unregulated
markets it is most often design awards that are the only
stamp of quality that the consumer has to go after – and
to be able to trust.
DNgroup’s client GMV recently won the Good Design Award in
Chicago. The idea behind that was to increase penetration
of the US market. This latest award for GMV is an important
step in that direction and an example of the importance
of focusing on the awards to make the biggest impact
on the company’s fortune.