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Brand Strategy and Best Practices from an IP Perspective

Branding is critical for businesses looking to build connections with customers and brand recognition in the market. A well-executed brand strategy often drives brand awareness and builds brand recognition by ensuring consistent design across all brand visuals. In this way, a consistent visual identity can be crafted. One way to ensure consistent design across all brand visuals is through the use of a brand name and associated logo on brand merchandise and apparel.

Tiger Woods’s career exemplifies issues with the branding process and branding cycle. Tiger Woods and Nike were business partners for the majority of Woods’s playing career, during which time Woods used the logo “TW” on his clothing. But Tiger Woods and Nike recently announced an end to their 27-year partnership. Soon after, Woods unveiled his new apparel and lifestyle brand “Sun Day Red”. The brand “Sun Day Red” is a partnership with the golf equipment manufacturer TaylorMade.

The Brand Name: “Sun Day Red”

The name “Sun Day Red” is a nod to the color Woods wore as a young golfer, as a student-athlete at Stanford, and for every major tournament he has played professionally. The “Sun Day Red” logo depicts a tiger jumping. More specifically, the “Sun Day Red” logo is an outline of a tiger containing 15 stripes, one stripe for each one of Woods’ 15 major titles.

This “Sun Day Red” logo is now replacing the “TW” logo that Woods used for most of his career and made famous with Nike. Tiger Woods may no longer be wearing the Swoosh on the golf course, but Woods will still be in “Sun Day Red”.

Best Practices

There are numerous ways for businesses and individuals to reduce uncertainty and mitigate their exposure to legal risks:

  • Develop a clear brand strategy centered on a brand name (e.g., “Sun Day Red”) and logo. But, remember to perform a clearance search for any confusingly similar brand names and logos (marks) before any actual use of the name and logo. This search can mitigate the time, costs, energy, and frustrations associated with rebranding.
  • File applications and documents establishing rights and interests/ownership of any brand name (e.g., “Sun Day Red”) and logo.
  • Review contractual details from any endorsement deal which may prevent or limit further use of a logo. For example, Woods’ company ETW Corp. owns the “TW” logo according to filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. However, it is unclear whether contractual details from Nike’s endorsement deal with Woods could prevent any further use of the logo “TW”.
Category: Intellectual Property