The controversy surrounding the use of the REDSKINS trademark and logo shows just how much the public reaction to symbols can alter and shift over time. In a decision now on appeal, the United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board cancelled the REDSKINS trademark registrations, ruling that they were considered disparaging and offensive to approximately one out of three native Americans when they were registered.
Stepping back from this present day dispute, pioneer and native American symbology once captured the popular imagination in the early 20th century. Businesses sought to capitalize on romantic visions of western expansion by adopting symbols recalling the Old West. Once those nostalgic reference points lost commercial traction with consumers, these companies changed shopworn symbols of brand identity or perhaps the companies and products faded away altogether from the marketplace.
How many of us can now connect the following former trademark symbols referencing the Old West with their original producer and the products they were meant to brand? This brief reprise underscores how dynamic trademark symbols are in adjusting to the tastes and sensibilities of each new generation of American consumers. Answers follow at the end.