Has This Brand Protection Thing Gone Too Far?


I have a bit of a rant to make for this post…

In a recent article found through the Wired Blog Network, it seems as though T-Mobile has claimed they own the color magenta. …really.

And with expected big business “my ‘PEN’ is bigger than yours” force, they’ve scribed a cease and desist letter (of sorts) asking Engadget Mobile to change the logo color throughout their website and communications collateral.

Now, as I clearly stated in a previous post, I’m not a trade lawyer. But, I am a graphic designer by trade. I’ve designed logos and developed brand standards for countless companies – from ma’ and pa’ start-ups, to 10,000+ employee behemoths. I’ve worked within the private label industry and followed 500-page SOPs and branding guides for everything from corporate communications collateral, to packaging, and broadcast video. So, when I see stories like this, I have to stop and question the need for T-Mobile to take this kind of action. What do they really think they are protecting (or accomplishing) by taking these actions?

T-Mobile is a cellular/mobile phone service provider. Engadget Mobile is an online news/commentary blog focused on mobile technology. As a matter of fact, Engadget Mobile has even written articles on T-Mobile… some even somewhat flattering. That’s about as close to “similar” as the two companies get.

Where is the confusion? How could someone be dense enough to confuse the logos for the two companies based on the color magenta?

I agree, there is a need for brand protection in a competitive environment. But let’s make it clear what the “competitive” environment encompasses. My logo mark uses 70% black. Can I “lawyer-up” and chase T-Mobile for using “my gray” in their logo? I fear that my marketplace may confuse T-Mobile as a provider or graphic services… Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

Of course, I’ve been assured that this is no April Fool’s joke… So, please comment and let me know your thoughts. Has T-Mobile taken brand protection (a little) too far?

Until next time… take a deep breath and count to 10.

And

Keep Cooking!
Andrew

More articles on the T-Mobile action:
here
here
here
and here…

2 Comments
  1. Apperas to me more dumbing down of America. I’m pretty sure I can buy a product based on its name, quality and reliability without counting on the color of the logo. It is unfortunate that T-mobile thinks the consumer population isn’t smart enough to destinquish them from the competition.

  2. I wouldn’t make it simply an American thing, since the article is based on T-Mobile owned by Deutsche Telekom (German-based company). But your comment on how marketing (in general) has turned the boat to winds saying “ALL consumers are dense” is spot-on.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Keep Cooking!
    Andrew