Promote but Protect Your Brand in Co-branding Situations

Beware of electronic and physical publications which use your logo in a way which suggests your sponsorship. Companies may be motivated to use logos of other brands which may be more well-known in the industry, for the purpose of trying to boost their own image.

For example, let’s take a hypothetical company, DesiKicks, which designs brilliant shoes but has no reputation for quality, long-lasting shoe construction. DesiKicks implements a marketing plan which includes creating a new page on their website, promoting the long-lasting features of their shoes. So far, so good. But DesiKicks would cross the line if, for example, they prominently placed a Nike logo on that page, because it implies that Nike is sponsoring DesiKicks. While the implied message may or may not be true, under U.S. trademark law, Nike reserves the full right to control what their brand is associated with.

Think twice about letting other companies use your logo on electronic or printed materials. Your logo is part of your brand identity, and giving someone else broad freedoms to use your logo can lead to consumers, including your existing customers, having misguided impressions about your company. If your logo is associated with unseemly brands, negative political affiliations, or opinions you and your company do not want to be aligned with, you stand to lose control of your public image in the marketplace.

THINK ABOUT: Having a “linking” license agreement with another company before allowing them to use your logo and/or branding on their own website. This agreement can help you structure exactly how, or how not to, use your logo.

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