Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Marks of Excellence Summary (p 1-63)

This book is about the history and classification of trademarks. Trademarks are understood as signs of identity whose purpose is derived from the examination of its nature and meaning. A lot is written on the laws of trademark, however there is little written on the actual function thereof. Visual identifiers allude to the nature of the product and can have value through reputation. When dealing with trademarks, several fields of study are involved. To effectively evaluate a trademark one must know of difference in utilization.

Trademarks have been around for at least 5000 years. Motivation to create these marks can be traced to identification in social, ownership, and origin matters. All of which are motives of either need or desire.

An early form of trademark is heraldy; which is the study of armoral signs and symbology. Heraldy has been around since the mid-12th century, used as identifiers between knights. The design consists of shields, lines, shapes, and icons. Better combinations of these forms where manipulated to create simple trademarks, omitting anything non-essential.

Monograms are another early form of trademark, rooting from Greek as 'single line'. Usually written or drawn in outline, recognizability is the readability. Familiarity was also used for livestock branding. For the past 5000 years, branding has become a system for showing relationship between living product and owner. Earmarks and farm-marks stemmed from the idea of branding.

Since Greek antiquity ceramic marks have been another facet of trademark through which the traders who bought ceramics from potters marked their ownership. Two types of signature styles were executed in the form of dipinti (brush marked) and graffiti (incision marked). Just as ceramic marks and other trademarks, stonemason's marks communicated ownership. More specifically, medieval architects, engineers, and craftsmen laid claim to the mastery of technique, construction, and style. These particular marks are design-based on square, circle, and/or triangle grids in stone.

Hallmarks provide the audience with further information than simple ownership. Gold/silversmiths would utilize these marks to communicate composition of material, location, date, along with the sponsor.

In deviation, printers' marks are intended to mark products of the printer as a direct result of the Gutenberg press. These were made through the same wood/metal cuts as the letter presses. Similar to printers' marks, watermarks also marked paper products. However, watermarks are impressed into the paper (without ink) while in the mold.

Furniture marks, another aspect of trademark, were seen as a form of control due to French government guilds making members mark the furniture they produced. This was to protect themselves against unaffiliated manufacturers.

So, a very basic summary of the function of trademark is identification. This is further based on design program and branding.

Design programs control visual identity through elements of trademarks, typefaces, and colors. These elements are utilized through applications; dealing with correspondence, sales literature, advertising, products, packaging, vehicles, signage, shop fronts/interiors, and uniforms. The goal of a design program is to create an identity attractive to relevant groups. Furthermore, this identity should share a dynamic statement of their aspirations and portray an understanding of the self, as well as the visual external. Economic circumstances also affect from within and externally.

Through trademark, branding denotes the name, reputation, and atmosphere of companies, products, and groups. The book compares branding and sales to mechanization and production in that both facilitates advantages of scale (similar to design programs).

Different types of corporate identification structures consist of organizational or branded identity. Either of these structures can be monistic, endorsed, or pluralistic; further creating 6 different identities. Application for trademark identities work as assumed names or practical pseudonyms for social, ownership, or origin matters. This links entities and brands for identification purposes. There is differentiation in identification, including: uniqueness, value, holding power, description, association, tone of voice, graphic excellence, reputation, discretion, or repetition. Some unifying, some working in opposition.

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