Trade Name vs Brand Name: Understanding the difference

In this blog I would like to explain the difference between a trade name vs brand name. The distinction is important to understand and I will provide examples to demonstrate the importance of having both.  

  • The Difference: Trade Name vs Brand Name
    Understanding Brand Names and Trade Names
    Pros and Cons
    Choosing the Right Name: Brand or Trade?
    A Closer Look: Trade Names vs Brand Names
    More examples : Exploring
    Do You Need To Make the Distinction?

The Difference: Trade Name vs Brand Name

Woman with a White Bicycle Standing in Front of a Fashion Store The Symbolizing that the difference in trade name vs brand name is important

Of course, trade names and brand names are both used to identify a product or service, but they serve different purposes.


Firstly, a trade name is a legally registered name that identifies a company and its business activities. More so, it distinguishes the company from other businesses and is used for legal and commercial purposes.


On the other hand, a brand name is a term or phrase used to identify and market a specific product or service. It distinguishes the product or service from competitors and is used for promotional purposes.


While a trade name typically refers to the name of a company or its legal entity, a brand name refers to a specific product or service offered by the company.

Trade Name vs Brand Name. A poster in blue and orange to illustrate the difference between the two concepts

Pros and Cons: Brand Name vs Trade Name

Understandably, brand names and trade names both have their own pros and cons. One can say that, a brand name is a name or symbol that is unique to a company or product. Above all, it helps differentiate that company or product from its competitors. However, brand names are more recognizable and memorable, which can help increase customer loyalty and drive sales.

On the other hand, a trade name is a name used by a business or person in the course of their trade or business. More importantly, trade names generally have a broader application and may be used by multiple businesses. Also, trade names might be more flexible and easier to change if needed. However, they may not have the same level of recognition or customer loyalty as a brand name.

Overall, choosing between a brand name and a trade name depends on the specific needs of a business. A well-established brand name can be valuable, but a trade name may be a better fit for a business that needs flexibility and is concerned about potential lawsuits.

Choosing the Right Name: Brand or Trade?

When deciding between a brand name and trade name, it is important to consider your marketing objectives. But at the same time keep an eye on the overall branding strategy. If you plan to build a branding image that is unique and memorable, with a brand name then that is likely the best way to go.

However, if you are operating in a highly regulated industry like law or medicine, a trade name may be necessary for legal purposes. See the most common legal business types. Ultimately, it comes down to what type of name best represents your business and aligns with your long-term goals.

A Closer Look: Trade Names vs Brand Names

Shop window with a vintage look. A green plant in the window. The text on the window says Aromatherapy. Brand name and trade names are different

As we stated before, a trade name is the legal name under which a company operates. More importantly, it is registered with the government.  Establishing the company’s identity. On the other hand, a brand name is a marketing asset tool used to identify and differentiate products or services from competitors. A brand name creates an identity for a company’s products or services in the consumer’s mind.

Trade names are essential to protect a company’s legal rights, while brand names are essential for creating consumer recognition and loyalty. One of the reasons why  companies invest heavily in branding activities and use their brand names in advertising, marketing, and promotions. However, many times, trade names and brand names can be similar. Inevitably, creating confusion for consumers. For example, PepsiCo is a trade name, while Pepsi is a brand name.

Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the difference between trade names and brand names to avoid any legal or branding issues that could harm a company’s reputation and sales.

More examples : Exploring Trade Names and Brand Names

So, trade names and brand names are common ways for companies to market and distinguish their products or services. Some examples of trade names and brand names for companies include:


1. Coca-Cola – This is a classic example of a brand name that has become synonymous with a specific product.


2. Nike – Another widely recognizable brand name, Nike is known for its athletic apparel and footwear.


3. Amazon – Third one up, a trade name for a company that has expanded from selling books to becoming one of the world’s largest online retailers.


4. Tesla – Fourth example, a brand name for a company that specializes in electric cars and sustainable energy.


5. McDonald’s – A trade name for a fast-food chain that is known worldwide for its burgers, fries, and Happy Meals.


6. Pepsi – Popular and most loved beverage company that has a brand name that is often associated with its main product, Pepsi-Cola.


7. Apple – Last but not least, a company that produces various electronic products, including smartphones, computers, and tablets, and has a strong brand name.

Do You Need To Make the Distinction?

Yes, it is important to make the distinction between brand names and trade names. You now understand that a  brand name basically refers to the name of a product, service, or company that is used to differentiate it from others in the market. More so, it encompasses the entire branding strategy that includes features like logos, slogans, brand marks and design. For example, Nike is a brand name that includes the iconic “swoosh” logo and the “Just Do It” slogan.

On the other hand, a trade name refers to the name a company uses to identify itself in legal and commerce transactions. Therefore, it is the name that is registered with government agencies and is used to conduct business. For example, Nike Inc. is the trade name for the company behind the Nike brand.

Making the distinction between brand names and trade names is important in branding, marketing, and legal contexts. Understanding the differences between them helps businesses develop effective branding strategies and protects their legal rights. If you need you might consider hiring a brand ambassador to help you make he distinction and drive your company forward towards success. Find out how much a brand ambassador makes

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, brand names and trade names are both integral components of a business’s identity. While trade names are necessary for legal purposes and official documents, brand names are what truly capture the hearts and minds of consumers.


A strong and memorable brand name can create a powerful emotional connection with customers and lead to loyal, long-term relationships. While trade names may be more straightforward and utilitarian, they lack the creativity, personality, and emotional resonance of a well-crafted brand name.


By carefully considering both aspects of their identity, businesses can build a strong, recognizable, and beloved brand that sets them apart from the competition and generates success in the marketplace. 

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