–Dan Kelly, Attorney

I recently had another experience of coming across a branding trend that, while perhaps old in the creative world, hit me squarely through close-in-time repetitive encounters with the phenomenon, starting with these three marks:

Not to get too complex, but the “My 29” station carries broadcasts of nearly all home and away Twins games (and I think plugs the “My Twins Tickets” website), and during one such broadcast, I saw a commercial for my Talk 107.1, which is a local talk radio station (actually a gossip radio station, if I can take its ads at face value).  My, my, my!  What’s more, the Twin Cities my Talk 107.1 is not even the only 107 using the MY branding approach:

Admittedly, the others appear to be in different parts of the country–but that’s just the stations in the 107 band.  I shudder to think of how many I might find across the full FM dial and “coast-to-coast,” to borrow another hackneyed radio phrase.

This phenomenon is a bit easier to quantify than the blue oval phenomenon:  There are more than 5,500 registered trademarks in the U.S. that use the word MY, and the related ME formative boasts more than 2,500 registrations.  These registrations are likely the tip of the iceberg of a host of unregistered uses.  There is clearly a marketing principle at work here based upon the objective evidence of the ubiquity of these terms.  The irony is that in marketing ME and MY goods and services to everyone, they’re not really “mine” or “yours” or any one person’s at all, are they?  Is this why MySpace is going the way of the dodo?

Well, let’s say that’s true as a general principle–that there’s an inherent tension in marketing “my” goods and services to everyone else.  Would it not make more sense to be more inviting, to market goods and services as “yours” and not “mine”?  You bet.  As of this writing, there are almost 14,000 registered trademarks in the U.S. that use the word YOUR, or variants, and more than 11,000 using YOU or variants.  From a meaning standpoint alone, YouTube sounds much more inviting than MyTube.

Whether to use MY or YOUR will invariably depend upon numerous other variables like context, point of view, phonetic considerations, and much more, but be assured that whichever you choose, you will not be alone.