“House marks do not identify particular goods or services – rather, they identify the provider of a wide variety of goods or services, with such goods or services often themselves identified by a separate trademark or service mark.”Trademark Manual of Examination Procedure §1402.03(b)
What’s a house mark? I’ve sprinkled a few into this post to help you grok the concept. After reading this post, you’ll start noticing house marks everywhere.
A house mark’s super power is leveraging brand awareness: If consumers already buy and love your ketchup, they’re more likely to buy your mayonnaise if you use a house mark.
Costco’s adoption of KIRKLAND SIGNATURE® as its house mark is the greatest house mark story of all.
In the early 1990s, Costco sold plenty of its own products but each product used a different trademark: SIMPLY SODA for soft drinks; HEALTH BALANCE for vitamins; ENGINE FORCE for motor oil.
In 1995 Costco adopted a single trademark for all its products: KIRKLAND SIGNATURE®.
Costco had to make a serious effort to adopt a house mark. It had to find a mark that was available for all the goods and services its sells in all the countries where it operates.
That effort really paid off: KIRKLAND SIGNATURE® is now the biggest brand of packaged consumer goods in the U.S. with sales that are larger than much more established brands like Kellogg®.
Thanks to Liz B. for sending me an article that led to this post.