What happens when the brand and the item name get confused?

Some brand names work a little too well for their products, leading to confusion. A case in point, recently spotlighted by AdWeek, is Duck Tape. This is a company that produces the common tape products that are often a staple for any home improvement project. But because the name is so close to "duct tape," a different product, consumers could be understandably misled.

The article by Robert Klara, which cites information from the official Duct Tape website, points out that Duck has only been a registered trademark of the company since 1980, making it a lot younger than the term "duct tape." Someone who doesn't know the history and has only heard the term spoken aloud, though, wouldn't be able to distinguish between the two phrases and could find it hard to decide which is real.

He spoke to Tim Nyberg, a marketer and duct tape enthusiast who said that his group The Duct Tape Guys often comes under fire for making this confusion themselves.

"There are people who lambaste us for calling it duct and for referring to duck," he said. "We just smile and direct them to our Web page. But those who blow a cork over it will still not be satisfied."

Think about the way that a company like this would market themselves. Duck Tape tries to make the assertion clearer by featuring a logo with a duck on it standing over the brand name. Any illustration like this should be translated faithfully to vinyl signs and other important advertising materials.

Potential misunderstandings might be beyond a business' control, but the imagery and wording on signs can help steer consumers in the right direction.