Thought leadership from our experts

Image Matters

Ask any trademark attorney: Recognition strengthens a brand so that customers or clients can be more confident about the quality of goods or services when making their selection. So, congratulations to this year's LMG Rising Stars.

Evaluation is essential to functioning in human society. Our brains make judgments about other people, circumstances, products and services, among other things, throughout the day. This is necessary for our survival, such as when we evaluate whether a situation is too dangerous or risky and determine to avoid it. It is also heavily involved in our happiness and our success, such as when we decide to initiate a new relationship. It is in large part our role as attorneys to assist our clients in their decisions by making certain evaluations.

Evaluation has to start somewhere, and while we can try to defer judgment while we continue to research and gather information, we are not always in control of when a decision needs to be made. Even if we are able to defer a decision, more information and research does not necessarily facilitate and can even impede the decision-making process. So, we need to be able to make relatively quick evaluations, and hopefully, leave the door open to reevaluate as we learn more over time.

As lawyers, we try to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant facts, in the context of the law, to focus on the information we deem essential to the client's decisions. As consumers, we often rely on shortcuts, associations formed in our brains to help us make a quick determination about which product or service to buy. Trademark attorneys like me must understand and apply both of these ways of thinking because we help businesses build and maintain their reputations among consumers. In essence, our work is all about image, and image really matters.

I have to repeat that a few times to convince myself that it is true because I'd like to be considered a substance-over-image kind of person, and I have several colleagues and friends whom I know to view the world similarly. But as someone whose job is to understand the quick evaluations consumers make, I recognize that the quality of the product is assumed. My clients have to offer quality products or services consistently to build the reputation that consumers will associate with the name, logo, colors, shapes, or other distinguishing features that I help them to protect. Then, as a result of that association, more will likely choose to consume my clients' products or services over the competition based solely on the mark, perhaps without performing any research at all, just assuming the quality to be there.

So, why I am writing about image in a publication that evaluates and recognizes top attorneys? Because the recognition as an LMG Rising Star is a kind of trademark. Potential law clients looking through this guide may have a particular need and determine at least in part based on this recognition and what it suggests about the listed attorneys to engage one or more of us. The publisher's reputation and the success of this guide depends on how well it researches and picks the right attorneys to be included. Our reputations as attorneys depend on the quality of the services we provide. Congratulations for the hard work and great service that has led to your recognition in this publication.