According to the records at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Best Buy Co. has used the yellow tag with the words BEST BUY on the tag for its retail store services since at least as early as June 6, 1989. In this composite mark, the words BEST BUY and the yellow tag design were equal in prominence. For almost 29 years the Best Buy yellow tag logo did not change. That is, until today. Today, Best Buy revealed a new logo that emphasizes the words BEST BUY and significantly de-emphasizes the yellow tag design.
Why after 29 years would BEST BUY choose to make this change? According to Whit Alexander – Best Buy’s Chief Marketing Officer – the change was necessary to tell Best Buy’s story differently as an inspiring friend that can help consumers achieve their goals. Conveying a different message could certainly be part of the reason for the change, but it also could be that words generally dominate designs.
Where a mark consists of words and a design element, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board has held that greater emphasis is placed on the words of the mark. Greater emphasis is placed on the words because consumers use words to request, discuss, and purchase goods or services.
This is not to suggest that designs are not important to an overall brand identity because they are. You don’t have to look farther than a toddler who can’t read, but can recognize logos and associate those logos with a particular company to witness the power a logo can have.
Often times as searchers we are asked to search for conflicting design elements in a mark. In most cases, design elements are unlikely to cause issues whereas an unsearched word has the real possibility of creating an issue for the trademark owner.