Certification marks are seals of approval indicating a specific good or service complies with the quality standards set by the owners of the marks. The presence of a certification mark on the packaging or even on the product itself indicates that the item has been tested and certified by the issuer of the mark, and has successfully passed the tests related to that specific type of product. Products like electronic appliances, food, and computer equipment typically carry some type of certification mark.
A certification mark is issued by an organization that conducts intense testing on different types of goods and services that are sold to consumers. The idea behind the testing is to make sure the product meets with safety standards set by regulatory agencies, and that the item provides all the benefits claimed by the manufacturer. Should the testing organization find that a particular product does not meet the prevailing standards for safety and quality, permission to use the mark on packaging and in advertising is denied. It is not unusual for testing organizations to periodically retest products that were granted use of the mark in the past. This helps to ensure manufacturers using the certification mark are maintaining acceptable levels of quality and are still in compliance with safety regulations.
Companies that are launching new products often seek to secure use of a certification mark before placing those products in the marketplace. For example, a company that manufactures household electrical products may develop a new smoke alarm for residential use. Before releasing the new alarm to stores, the manufacturer would submit the product to a testing laboratory that would subject the device to intense testing. Once the smoke alarm is found to meet the standards of that organization, the manufacturer is granted permission to use the certification mark in promoting the device to consumers.
Many people actively look for a certification mark before making purchases. This is true with most types of electrical equipment, even simple devices like extension cords. In some nations, independent testing agencies also provide a certification mark for different types of packaged foods, indicating to consumers that the product is fresh and contains the nutritional values claimed on the packaging. Governmental regulations regarding the activities of testing laboratories and organizations vary from one nation to another, with some governments actively encouraging this type of testing. Other governments prefer to focus on their own testing processes to evaluate goods and services, and grant their own seals of approval or certification marks.