In Brief

Similarities And Differences Between Trademarks And Brand Names

Trademarks and brand names are two common ways that are used to identify businesses and companies. These terms have existed for many years, placing a distinction on each group that uses them. Although they are easy to understand, it may be difficult to fully grasp the differences and similarities between the two.

Trademarks and brand names are similar in several ways, including the fact that they both stand for a company and represent all that is included within the company. They are also very different. Trademarks tend to be more focused on legal aspects, whereas a brand name is the external representation that defines a company.

Those are just a few of the things that make trademarks and brand names much the same and yet so drastically different. Read on to learn more about what trademarks and brand names are, exactly, and how they compare and contrast with one another.

Defining the Trademark

Before you begin to distinguish between the two, it is important to set the stage with the definition of each term. A trademark is essentially a sign, whether, in word or symbol format, that alerts the world to a particular brand. It provides legal security for a company. Some examples of companies that have trademarks include:

  • AstraZeneca: This is a research-based pharmaceutical company based in Cambridge. AstraZeneca’s symbol is a defining statement for their brand.
  • Blackshore Coastal Clothing: This is a clothing brand located on the British coast, which uses the trademark to accentuate their style-based company.
  • Lipsy: Lipsy is a clothing and accessory company. The trademark is crucial because they set themselves apart from other clothing brands in the UK.

All of these have ownership over the name and likeness of their logo and title. Most companies that exist have access to a trademark. It is an important step that needs to be registered with the UK government to ensure that a group can claim what belongs to them.

A trademark serves the same purpose all across the world. A few things differ, such as the method in which it is obtained. Other than that, it is a clear statement and definition in many countries.

What Does a Trademark Do?

In the UK, trademarks are used to serve as intellectual security for the owners of the given property that they define. Trademarks must be registered to the government. Then, and only then, the company is provided with the following protections:

  • Trademarks stop copycats: Possessing a trademark means that you can challenge those who create a similar one for their goods. You can even sue in the case of copyright infringement.
  • Trademarks allow for monopoly: Owning a trademark means you get a monopoly on your goods and services offered under that particular trademark. No one else can sell as you do.
  • Trademarks secure registration backing: If a company is filed under a trademark with the government, they have government protection. If they do not, they are out on their own in the world. It is more difficult to deal with lawsuits this way.
  • Trademarks allow for unique qualities: A trademark allows for the unique creation of logos, colour schemes, designs, and more than that permit a brand to stand out from other companies. It prevents competitors from infringing on these.

There are many other benefits to having a trademark in the UK. However, it is necessary to get it registered, or none of the protections come into play.

Specificities about Trademark in the UK

Although the trademark operates in the same way once it is put into place across the world, the UK’s registration system is different from that of places like the US. The UK trademark system has: 

  • One tier registration: Tiers of registration differ in many countries. For instance, the United States has two tiers of registration for companies that wish to get a trademark. The UK, on the other hand, only has one tier that companies must go through to access a trademark.
  • Required registration: The UK requires a company to go through the registration process in order to get a registered trademark. There is no way around this process.
  • No stylised marks: The US has specific, stylised marks to display their trademarks on companies. The UK, on the other hand, does not. 

These are slight differences, but ones that make the application and acquisition of a trademark a different process in the United Kingdom.

Defining the Brand Name

A brand name is a name given to the overall company or services that are offered. It is the face, style, and persona of a particular company. The brand is involved in advertising, sales, and many other items that are often taken at face value in our society. They intend to evoke a certain feeling in those who hear or see their name.

Examples of brand names in the UK include:

  • Burberry
  • Jaguar
  • Twinings

Another excellent example of a brand name is Adidas. The brand name is known all over the UK and the world. It invokes a certain feeling in those who hear the name, as people know exactly what to think of when they hear “Adidas.” A brand name is nowhere near as drenched in legality as the trademark.

What Does a Brand Name Do?

A brand name is a signature that the company leaves on its products. It lets consumers know who they are and what their product is. A brand name is a definitive element that assists the consumer and directs them towards investing in a product.

The brand name is what the product will become. It is what draws people to feel certain emotions when hearing it. It is what will eventually become a household name if the company does well.

Key Similarities Between Trademarks And Brand Names

A brand name does not have the same official legal nature that a trademark does. While a business still has to be registered, the brand name goes beyond what is registered to a company. For example, the British Broadcasting Corporation is branded as the BBC, and the BBC brand name is what people know and love.

Despite the many differences, there are also a few things within the topics of trademark and brand name that are very similar.

Involvement with a Company

Both trademarks and brand names are closely involved with the growth and development of a company. Together, they:

  • Set the groundwork: The brand name and trademark lay out a foundation for the brand to grow upon.
  • Support growth: The more people who become accustomed to the brand name and the trademark defending it, the more people will give their time and financial support to the brand.
  • Help it survive: The brand name and trademark will serve the company well in the long run. With luck, they will grow and shift into something that many will come to know and love.

Identification of a Company

Trademark and brand name are both identifiers for the brand. They serve as a way for the company to make itself known to a large number of people.

Cyrus SoundKey Product naming by Peek Creative Limited
Why did we need to hook a new generation of music lovers into the Cyrus brand name?

Identifiers in Brand Name

Brand name is all about identity. It is what the company wishes to go by and overall accept as their identity that consumers will know them as.

Brand names might also be used to identify specific products within a brand of lines of consumer products.

Identifiers in Trademark

Trademark is an even more in-depth version of identification. It is used to completely separate a company from others. It encompasses everything from logos to symbols, signatures to brand-based images. A trademark makes the company recognisable and impossible to mistake. 

Creation of a Brand

The creation of the overall brand depends on both trademark and brand name when starting to establish a presence.

The brand name allows for:

  • An identity: A persona in which the world can see them and make an informed decision about who they are and whether they want to purchase from them.
  • A name: A literal name, the starting point for any company or brand. It is the basis of establishment.

Trademark allows for:

  • Legal identity: This is the legal grounds on which to defend the newfound brand identity of the company.
  • Product solidification: Clarification to the government that the name they have sells a particular good or service.

Trademark and brand name play large roles in the creation process. We will discuss the differences in the roles they play in greater depth a little later when we go into the differences between the two.

Necessity within a Company

Though not required in the creation of a business, both trademarking and the creation of a brand name are critical to the success of a business. Without these, a brand is left flailing without:

  • Legal protection: Together, these two items offer forms of protection in several areas of your business.
  • Identity: Trademark and brand name allow a business to gain an identity and establish itself in the economic world. They allow customers to empathise and grow attached to the brand.
  • An established existence: Though companies can certainly exist without a trademark and a brand name, it will make sales and success almost impossible.

Both of these items are important to the growth and sustainability of a new company. Without them, a brand falls apart and becomes nothing.

Registration of a Company

A trademark and a brand name both need to be registered to prevent other companies from stealing a name or likeness that is similar to theirs. Once a business name and a trademark are registered, no other entity can use the names or profit of their likeness.

There are differences in how each registration takes place. This we will discuss in the differences section.

Key Differences

While both trademarks and brand names do fall within the same area of branding and business creation, they are not the same. This is clear from many of the items mentioned above.

There are a lot of things that separate these two terms from each other, even more so than what makes them similar. These differences are discussed in more detail below.

Instanda Character design and mark up by Peek Creative Limited
How We Successfully Named and Designed the Instanda Trademark in the Insurtech Revolution. 

Registration Process

Trademark involves a much larger registration process in the UK than brand name does. If a company wants a trademark or a brand name registered, they need to accomplish a different sequence of steps.

Registering a Brand Name

When registering a brand name (or company name) for your business, there are a few crucial steps that need to be followed:

  • Check your name: The first move is to make sure that your selected name does not resemble another. Ones that are similar to existing names or offensive could cause your application to be rejected. You can look up those in existence with this availability checker.
  • Gather your information: Put together anything you will need, such as the owners of your company and the funds for the registration.
  • Fill out the paperwork: Write everything down. Take care to double-check everything so that you do not have to redo the process in the case of a faulty application.
  • Submit everything: Once you have everything laid out and written down, you can submit it. All you need is approval, and your brand name is registered.

These steps only protect the name of your company. They do not protect against any other legal issues that may arise.

Registering a Trademark

The process of registering a trademark in the UK is a bit more involved. The official site,, explains the steps you must follow in-depth: 

  • Check your trademark: Like the brand name, it is important to see if your trademark is already taken before applying to use it. This can be checked with the Trademark Search on the government site, linked right here.
  • Read the guide: There is a guide posted on the site which explains this process in more detail.
  • Apply to register: Before you can even register your trademark, you need to apply for the ability to do so. Gather all of your information and the funds to do so.
  • Register: Once this has all been done, you may register your trademark.

These steps take a little longer, but they are beneficial to the success of your business. They provide more protection than the registered brand name does.

Cost of Registering

A minuscule difference is the cost. A trademark can cost upwards of one hundred pounds, plus fifty more for any additional papers. On the other hand, a brand name costs about forty pounds. The difference lies in the intensity of each process.

Each of these costs may vary depending on the length of time it takes to complete and the number of papers submitted. Research is beneficial before embarking on this process.

Trademarks and brand names offer different levels of protection for the company. 

Without either, your business is not protected legally. However, the protection you will get from each varies greatly.

Registering a brand name only protects a company from someone taking your exact name. It does not defend the company from other corporations:

  • Using a name that is similar to the brand’s own
  • Selling goods like the company’s
  • Selling goods and services under a name that resembles the company’s

If a name is similar enough that it is clear that it was copied or stolen, the rights are protected. That is the extent of protection registering a brand name offers.

Limited Company vs Sole Proprietor 

In terms of brand name protection, it may also be beneficial to discuss the protections that come with holding the role of either a sole proprietor or a limited company.

As a sole proprietor of a company, the brand does not receive the same protection as a limited company. A limited company is essentially an entity that is separate from the owners of the business. Registering a brand name ensures safety that sole proprietors do not receive. 

On the other hand, trademarking a brand is essentially placing a copyright on top of everything that your company is. Being trademarked in the UK means that the company is provided defence against:

  • Companies selling under the company’s likeness: With a trademark, other companies cannot create a brand that looks, sounds, or even acts like the one that has been established.
  • Companies mimicking or attempting to copy the brand: Once the trademark has been established, a rival company cannot copy the branding in any way that resembles the established company’s.
  • Legal battles against the right for the company’s name: A trademark permits government protection in the case of legal battles because the company has been placed in the eyes of the government. It holds a professional legal standing in the world.

Registering for a trademark also provides legal leverage if an instance ever arises where the company is challenged on account of the name, likeness, or goods and services.


Though trademarks and brand names operate in the same portion of the business world, they serve very different purposes.

Trademarks serve their main purpose for the business themselves, while the brand name serves the people and consumers. 

Purpose of a Brand Name

As mentioned above, a brand name forms to publicise a business. It is the name of the company. All advertisements, products, and spokespeople that come out of the company related to the brand name.

A brand name supports items such as:

  • Ad campaigns: Once a brand name has picked up steam, ad campaigns can show off the goods and services sold under the brand name. A brand name shows empathy and forms a humanisation of a brand.
  • Sales: A brand name will help boost sales once people get to know it. A trademark, on the other hand, will not.
  • Identification: A good brand name helps others identify a company against the competition. Take Lipsy, for example. Their unique brand name allows customers to pick them out from a booming clothing and accessory industry.

The brand name allows a company to establish itself and begin to connect with a customer base. It is the ground point for revealing that a brand is capable of connecting with the humans that it is selling its products to.

Read more about: Brand naming

Purpose of a Trademark

A trademark is there for legal protection. It is there to drive away copycats and secure a standing amongst competitors. While a brand name is there for the growth of the brand, a trademark is there to:

  • Protect the brand as it grows: A trademark ensures that a business cannot be removed midway into its growth.
  • Ensure that legal battles run smoothly: A trademark is a declaration of obtained rights and status.
  • Prevents confusion in the marketplace: It allows only one of that specific business to exist so that customers understand who to patronise.

The trademark is to the background as the brand name is to the foreground. They work together in different ways.

When going about getting a trademark, you might come into contact with the copyright. It is crucial to know the difference between trademark and copyright.

  • Copyright is automatic: Whenever you create something, copyright automatically comes with it the intellectual property.
  • Copyright is finite: Your copyright will eventually become a public source after a certain period.
  • Copyright protects but does not identify: A copyright can protect your property but does not give it a way to stand out against the crowd.

Copyright works hand in hand with the protective qualities that come with a trademark, but it is not the same.

Usage Rights

Trademark takes a big stand against other groups taking your business and using it for their liking. They also allow a company to maintain a monopoly on its identity combined with provided goods and services. On the other hand, a brand name only prevents others from using titles similar to the registered company.

These are two different terms and conditions that rival companies must adhere to when considering their products. A brand name is less complex to rival than a trademark. Trademarks drastically heat creativity in brand competition.

A Company Without Trademark

Without a trademark in the UK, a company must face many dangers. Another company may jump on the name or logo and trademark it before them. That previous company is then at risk of being responsible for:

  • Another company stealing their likeness: A trademark allows a company to stand apart from the crowd in terms of name, branding, and logos. Without a trademark, a company is not guaranteed a way to push apart from competitors.
  • Losing the copyright: A copyright goes away eventually. Without a trademark, there is a chance of the intellectual property shifting to another owner.
  • Losing their business: If an idea is stolen from you and the opposing company gains the rights for a trademark, they may take over and remove the rights to your business.

A trademark is crucial to a company that wants to have a long lifespan in the UK. It will permit them to be a unique entity and not another copycat in whatever industry they are a part of.

Dealing with Trademark Infringement

Trademark infringement is when another company infringes on the rights that you have established for a trademark. According to, there are some important steps you can take if you must to deal with this matter:

  • Seek an attorney: It is important to seek out help from a professional if you think that you are going to get into a legal battle.
  • Ensure the rights that you possess: Make sure that you have the legal grounds to pursue the activities that you are. You do not want to get into a legal confrontation if you are not fully certain that you are in the right.
  • Take advantage of an opportunity to settle: If there is a chance to settle with the opposing company, that is the better option. Legal disputes can be expensive and messy.

A trademark infringement does not happen frequently, but action can be taken against this if the company has registered its trademark.

A Company Without A Brand Name

Without a brand name, a company does not have an image or a personality. The brand name is crucial to acquiring customers and serving a platform that will grow and expand into the future. 

The importance of a name cannot be understated. It is what consumers use to identify their favourite products amongst a sea of copycats. If we look at a brand like Coca-Cola, we can see a soda company that selected a unique name to set themselves apart from their competitors. Their name, to consumers, means:

  • Quality taste: Consumers can expect an excellent flavour with every single Coca-Cola product that they purchase.
  • Affordable prices: When people hear the brand name Coca-Cola, they know that they can afford it.
  • Pleasant association: Coca-Cola comes with a positive association, a sensation that Coca-Cola has built into their brand over time.

The brand name helps to bring to life all of these things. It puts an image in heads that allow the companies to sell more of their product. A brand name is crucial to everything that a company is and does.


Although it might seem as though trademark and brand name are similar words said differently, they have many similarities and differences that define each term as unique and special.

Brand names and trademarks in the UK help define a company. They help protect it, but often in very different ways. They help set the groundwork for a company’s growth and development. They help to make it unique and distinctive from fierce competition. They work together to support an economic system that has stood the test of time.

Similarities And Differences Between Trademarks And Brand Names by Peek Creative Limited

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