Understanding the Distinction: Brand Name vs. Trade Name

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By Strife Team • November 2, 2023

When it comes to business and branding, the terms “brand name” and “trade name” are often used interchangeably, but they hold distinct meanings and play different roles. In this article, we’ll delve into the difference between these two essential elements of corporate identity.

Brand Name:

A brand name is a fundamental component of a company’s identity. It represents the identity of the business to the public and its customers. A brand name is not just a random assortment of characters; it carries the essence and reputation of the company. It’s the name that graces products, advertisements, and promotional materials.

Trade Name:

Conversely, a trade name, often known as a business name or trading name, is the legal appellation of a company or business entity. It’s the official name under which a business operates, primarily for legal and financial purposes. Trade names are used in contracts, registration documents, and dealings with government agencies.

Key Differences Between Brand Name and Trade Name

To comprehend the distinction more clearly, let’s highlight the key differences between a brand name and a trade name:


  • Brand Name: Represents the brand’s identity and image.
  • Trade Name: Used for legal and administrative purposes.

Public Recognition

  • Brand Name: Known to the public and customers.
  • Trade Name: May not always be recognized by the public.


  • Brand Name: Can be different from the legal entity name.
  • Trade Name: Must align with the legal entity name.

Trademark Protection

  • Brand Name: Can be trademarked for brand protection.
  • Trade Name: May or may not be trademarked.

Marketing and Promotion

  • Brand Name: Promoted through advertising and marketing.
  • Trade Name: Not typically used in marketing materials.

Real-Life Example

To illustrate the difference, consider this real-life scenario:

Imagine a company named “ABC Holdings Inc.” This is the legal trade name under which the business is registered. However, for their customers and the public, they use the brand name “SuperTech.” “SuperTech” is what customers see on products, advertisements, and the company’s website. It’s what creates an image and recognition in the market.

In Conclusion

In summary, while brand names and trade names are interconnected, they serve different purposes in the business world. The brand name is the face of the company in the market, while the trade name is the legal identity used for official matters. Understanding these distinctions is vital for businesses to navigate the complex world of branding and corporate identity.

FAQs :

Can a brand name be the same as a trade name?

Yes, a company can use the same name for both its brand and trade name. However, it’s not a requirement, and they can be different if needed.

Are brand names and trade names legally protected?

Brand names can be trademarked for protection, while trade names may have legal protection within the context of business registration.

What happens if a company changes its trade name?

Changing a trade name typically involves legal processes and may require updating registrations, contracts, and licenses.

Can a trade name affect a company’s branding strategy?

Yes, the trade name may influence the choice of brand name, as it needs to align with the legal entity.

How important is it to choose a memorable brand name?

Selecting a memorable and impactful brand name is crucial for creating a strong brand identity and attracting customers.

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