The following is an excerpt from my book, Building a Bold Brand. To learn more about the book, visit

There are FIVE basic types of marks. In descending order, from those with
the most protection to the least, they are:

  • Coined: Completely new and made-up terms, such as Exxon® for
    oil and gas and Kodak® for film and cameras.
  • Arbitrary: Real words, but words that are unrelated to the goods
    or services, such as Yahoo!® for internet services and Apple® for
  • Suggestive: Words that relate to the goods or services but that
    are not descriptive of them, such as Cafe Gelattohhh® for
    restaurant services featuring gelato, Ebeanstalk® for online store
    services featuring developmental toys, and Tuffrax® for ceilingsuspended
  • Descriptive: Terms that can be used to refer to a product or
    service or to its functions or characteristics, such as Sports
    Illustrated® for a sports magazine and U.S. Pro Golf Tour® for golf
  • Generic: Words that are commonly used to refer to a good or a
    service, or that answer the question, “What is it?”, such as
    “laptop” for a portable computer.

Coined, arbitrary, and suggestive names are generally able to become
registered trademarks, provided someone has not already registered a
confusingly similar mark for a related product or service. Coined and
arbitrary marks are given the “strongest” protection and are thus
considered by some to be the most desirable. Descriptive marks may
sometimes be registered but generally are afforded less protection. For
this reason, descriptive marks are considered “weak.” Generic trademarks
are the weakest of all—they are entitled no protection.

In my opinion, suggestive names or coined terms that are suggestive are generally the best because they are entitled to good protection, are creative, and tell the consumer something about a good or service.

Examples of great suggestive names:

• Pinterest
• Groupon
• eBay
• Travelocity
• YouTube
• OpenTable.

• Lox Stock & Bagel
• Lettuce Eat
• Thai the Knot
• Tossed (salad restaurant).
• Brewed Awakening
• Bean Around the World.

• SportsCenter
• Versus (sports TV network)
• BootLeggers (footwear store)
• Tiecoon
• Perfumania.

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