The registration of a name, logo, or mark gives you permission to defend it. The registration does not give you permission to use the name, but simply the standing to challenge anyone else who might use it.
In this case, (and for various reasons), Trinity Industries has not and will not challenge the new Sheer & Fitch registration and use of the name TRINITY in the commerce of shipbuilding, or any other manner. On the other hand, Sheer & Fitch will be able to challenge and prevent any other person or entity from using the Trinity name or variation in commerce of boat or shipbuilding.
However, the real challenge is in the market…
You can’t pretend to be or try to disguise yourself as the OLD Trinity Yachts… that deal is dead – gone. Any attempt will face distrust, ridicule and market rejection.
TRINITY brand-reanimation must develop on the merits and strength of a new product and organization. You will certainly benefit from the halo-effect that the familiarity of the Trinity name brings. You are exploiting a giant head-start in the market. Putting the TRINITY badge and new logo on a new-build like Blue Desire will undoubtedly bring greater distinction, acceptance, and value to the boat. Far more than a no-brand hull, or a lesser recognized name. However, the vessel and the company behind it will now be challenged to prove itself.
Marketers like to talk about something called brand “equity,” a combination of familiarity and positive associations that clearly has value, even if it’s impossible to measure in a convincing empirical way. Exploiting the equity of dead or dying brands is a topic many consumer-products firms, have wrestled with for years.
For the most part the equity — the idea — is the only thing the smart CEO is interested in owning; in many cases a brand that only exists as intellectual property. In the case of TRINITY, there’s no retail presence, no product, no distribution, no shipyard. Nothing. All that exists is a memory. We are taking consumers’ memories and starting a new business.
We also must consider the faultiness of consumer memory. There is opportunity, not just in what we remember but also in what we misremember. What determines whether a brand lives or dies (or can even come back to life) is usually a quieter process that has more to do with mental shortcuts, assumptions and memories — and all the imperfections that come along with each of those things.
Imperfection of memory can be used to enhance whatever new TRINITY comes up with, and this is a benefit of dormancy. The brand equity has value on its own, but it can be grafted onto something newer and, perhaps, more innovative.
Consumers remember the kind of high-level essence of the brand. They tend to forget the product specifics. This creates an opening: it gives the reintroduced version “permission” to ignore the skinny-beamed Trinity Yachts, that liked to catch fire and allows the vision to morph into a new appreciation of a familiar name.
TRINITY’s success is dependent on how skillful the new owners are in managing the brand’s story so that it resonates with a meaning that consumers like.