Tag Archives: brands

A Mark for the Ages

“Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do. And saw it through without exemption.” My Way Music and Lyrics by Paul Anka

Mark E. Litowitz - a Princeton, New Jersey (NJ) Workers ...

For the past 40 years or so, give or take a few forays into patent law, my professional world has revolved around brands, symbols, logos, and colors–source identifying devices that we collectively define as “Marks.” But on Father’s Day 2020, my thoughts turn to a Mark of different sort, my dad, Mark Litowitz, who died earlier this year after a short illness, just one day shy of his 91st birthday.

As the above lyric from “My Way” hints at, Dad’s favorite musician was Frank Sinatra, another Jersey Boy just a few years older than Dad and whose home town of Hoboken was only a few turnpike exits north of Trenton, where Dad spent his entire life.

Like Sinatra, our Mark was a symbol of style and class. He never left the house without perfectly pressed slacks, a crisp shirt, and polished loafers with no sign of wear at either heel or toe. There was a brief flirtation with two-piece polyester leisure suits in the early 1970s when those sartorial atrocities somehow managed to infiltrate the middle-age suburban zeitgeist. But except for that short-lived fashion faux pas, Dad’s signature look, like a good brand, never varied. No jeans, no t-shirts, no shorts, no sneakers. Those restaurant signs that read “No Shirt. No Shoes. No Service” were meant for others, not our Mark.

Like the best trademarks, our Mark was distinctive, sometimes even arbitrary, the highest praise for a trademark, (but perhaps not so great for a person, especially when paired with “capricious.”) As much as Dad idolized one Vegas icon–Sinatra, he detested another–Wayne Newton. As a nod to me and my two sisters, Dad tolerated Neil Young, perhaps responding to the plaintive longing of “Heart of Gold.” But he abhorred Bob Dylan, dismissing him as “the Hog Caller,” a particularly rich rebuke coming from Dad, who had rarely, if ever, stepped foot on a farm, and whose experience with “the Other White Meat” was largely confined to enjoying an occasional “Taylor Pork Roll” sandwich, a Trenton delicacy.

And like the most enduring brands, Dad lived by well-established guidelines. For over 40 years, he was a judge who demanded that lawyers who appeared before him be prepared. If you met his expectations, you were treated with dignity. If you fell short, well, you did not want to fall short.

Dad never handled Intellectual Property matters, but he was acutely aware of the power of brands, especially the logos of the two sports teams we rooted for–the New York Giants and New York Rangers. Those two famous brands, one from the gridiron in the Meadowlands, the other from the rink at Madison Square Garden, gave us a common language, they held us together in challenging times as well as in times of joy.

In his last years, when things appeared to be spiraling out of control, Dad would blurt out in Yiddish “G’nug is G’nug”–“enough is enough.” It became his tag line. And we know taglines can be among the most powerful of brands. A final example proving the point, our Mark really did know the power of a good Mark.

Quote of the Day: “Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.” Mark Twain


Filed under Uncategorized

Olympic Overreach: A Tangled Web Is Knit

“Ooh, Dream Weaver, I believe you can get me through the night.” Dream Weaver, Gary Wright

So, you love to knit. And every two years, when the Olympics roll around, you love to immerse yourself in a world of sports competitions that you couldn’t care less about the rest of the time; events like swimming, gymnastics, and beach volleyball. So, naturally, while you spend a fortnight on the couch, you pick up your needles and yarn and combine the two pastimes into a marathon of viewing and knitting indulgence. Better yet, you get together with other like-minded craftsfolk and devise all sorts of nimble contests–like “scarf hockey,” “afghan marathon,” and “sock put”– to challenge yourselves while you watch the thrills of victory and agonies of defeat.

And of course, you come up with a witty name for your group and this clever competition–you call yourselves “Ravelry” and your bi-annual event the “Ravelympics.”

Who couldn’t help but smile upon hearing about your group and your good-natured event with its whimsical name? The U.S. Olympic Committee, that’s who. Where others might see harmless parody, the USOC sees only an assault on the sanctity of the Olympic brand.

So the USOC dispatched a letter to the Ravelers, telling them to cease and desist in no uncertain terms. According to a report in the Washington Post, the USOC viewed the Ravelers antics as anything but a laughing matter. In a time-tested exercise of demagoguery, the USOC accused these homespun yarn- darners of being darn un-American:

“We believe using the name ‘Ravelympics’ for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games,” said the USOC’s letter, which Ravelry’s founder, Casey Forbes, posted on the site on June 20. “In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

“Yeah,” one knitter commented on Ravelry, “because it’s so much easier to knit a sweater than run 40 yards.”

Reluctantly, the sardonic Ravelers have concluded that when facing a monolithic international juggernaut with lawyers aplenty and an atavistic attitude towards its precious symbols and names, it’s better to switch than fight.

The needle-wielding Olympic watchers will now call their event the “Ravellenic Games.”

So at least one group of good sports has managed to keep its sense of humor. And when all the Olympic hoo-ha has faded into a dim memory, when Michael Phelps has returned to obscurity, the knitathaloners of the Ravellenic Games will have something–lot’s of things in fact–to show for the time they’ve invested in this Olympiad–socks, sweaters, hats, and more, to keep them warm during the Winter 2014 Ravellenic Games!

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think whenever you are trying to establish something new, you have to draw a line and put everything that came before that behind you.” John Doe, musician, The Knitters.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized