Unveiling the Key Stakeholders in Brand Protection Decisions
In this blog series, we’ve been discussing the most critical considerations for a corporate brand protection strategy. Continuing on our deeper dive into each of these considerations, we now turn to the stakeholders – how to determine who your business’s stakeholders are, and how to get them on board with your brand protection strategy.
Defining Brand Protection
Before diving into the realm of stakeholders, let’s quickly review what we’ve covered so far.
A brand protection strategy is essential for a business to help it develop, maintain, and protect its brand and the connection of that brand to consumers. Brand protection encompasses a range of strategies and actions that safeguard a company’s brand identity, reputation, and assets. These strategies aim to mitigate risks posed not only by counterfeit products, intellectual property infringements, and unauthorized distribution, but also to continually compare the brand to competitors, and the market as a whole.
Our last post addressed risk assessments, why they are important, and an example of how to conduct them.
Now let’s turn to the stakeholders.
What (or who) is a stakeholder?
A stakeholder is an individual, group, or entity that has a vested interest, influence, or concern in a particular project, organization, decision, or initiative. Stakeholders can impact or be impacted by the outcomes, actions, or activities associated with the subject in question. They can include a wide range of parties, such as employees, customers, investors, partners, regulatory bodies, competitors, community members, and more, each with their own unique perspectives, needs, and expectations. The concept of stakeholders is particularly relevant in business and brand protection because the various parties can help shape the direction, success, and impact of a brand protection strategy.
The Key Stakeholders
The following is a list of the most common types of stakeholders of a business. Not all types of stakeholders will exist in every business. For example, depending on the stage of growth of the company, there may be a CMO without a separate marketing department; the CMO is the marketing “department.”
C-Suite Executives and Leadership
- Company executives, including the CEO, CMO, and CFO, hold a substantial stake in brand protection decisions. They bear the responsibility of aligning brand protection strategies with the overall business goals and objectives. For them, brand reputation directly correlates with company and shareholder value, making it imperative to make informed decisions that preserve the brand’s good will.
- The legal department is a cornerstone in brand protection, as they navigate intellectual property laws, trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Their expertise is essential in enforcing legal actions against infringers, ensuring compliance with regulations, and drafting agreements that safeguard the brand’s interests. The legal team may consist of in-house counsel, who advise on the general operations of the business, as well as outside counsel who focuses strictly on brand protection related issues. In-house counsel and outside counsel work closely together to determine the brand protection strategy, as well as communicating with the other stakeholders listed in this article.
Marketing and Communication Professionals
- The marketing team understands the brand’s essence and its perception in the market. They work to maintain consistency across messaging and visual elements, ensuring that the brand’s identity remains intact. Their input is crucial to crafting proactive strategies that prevent potential reputation crises and stay attuned with competitor messaging.
Supply Chain Managers
- If you are selling goods, effective brand protection extends to the supply chain, where the procurement and distribution of goods can impact authenticity. Supply chain managers collaborate to implement controls that trace products, prevent counterfeiting, and maintain quality assurance, safeguarding the brand’s integrity.
IT and Cybersecurity Experts
- In an era dominated by technology, the brand’s online presence is as crucial as its physical presence. IT and cybersecurity professionals are responsible for safeguarding digital assets, preventing data breaches, and defending against cyber threats that could compromise the brand’s reputation.
- Of all the types of stakeholders, consumers are the most relatable because everyone has had customer experiences. Customers are the heart of any business. Their perception of the brand shapes its success. Unsatisfied customers can spread negative feedback, influencing potential buyers. Customers often seek to do business with competitors when they are unsatisfied. Engaging with customers, addressing their concerns, and delivering consistent quality is integral to brand protection. When in doubt, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine how you would feel toward a brand.
- Internal stakeholders also play a significant role in brand protection. Employees, as brand ambassadors, should be aligned with the brand’s values and be knowledgeable about potential threats. They can act as the first line of defense against reputation-damaging actions.
Partners and Suppliers
- Collaborators, suppliers, and business partners are intertwined with the brand’s reputation. Their actions can impact the brand positively or negatively. Therefore, having clear guidelines and agreements regarding brand protection is essential to maintain consistent messaging and quality.
Government and Regulatory Bodies
- Regulatory agencies and government bodies can influence brand protection decisions, especially in industries where strict standards and regulations exist. Compliance with these regulations is crucial to avoid legal repercussions and negative public perception. Working with government agencies is a great example of when in-house counsel and outside counsel typically work together to determine the best courses of action for the brand.
Media and Public Relations
- In the event of a reputation crisis, the media and public relations professionals become key players. Their ability to manage the narrative, communicate effectively, and control the spread of misinformation can significantly impact the brand’s recovery process.
Investors and Shareholders
- What may be thought of as “traditional” stakeholders, investors and shareholders have a vested interest in the brand’s long-term success. They closely monitor brand protection strategies, as any negative incidents can lead to decreased stock value and financial losses.
- While competitors may not be “traditional stakeholders,” they do have an indirect impact on brand protection decisions. Observing the actions of competitors can help a brand anticipate potential threats and proactively develop strategies to counteract them.
Working With Stakeholders Allows for Collaborative Decision-Making
The complexity of brand protection decisions necessitates collaborative efforts among these diverse stakeholders. While their perspectives may vary, a unified approach is crucial to develop effective strategies that holistically address the brand’s vulnerabilities. Regular communication and cross-functional teamwork are essential to ensure that decisions are well-informed, balanced, and aligned with the brand’s overall vision.
Brand protection is a multifaceted endeavor that requires the involvement of various stakeholders, each contributing their expertise and insights. From leadership and legal teams to customers and employees, each stakeholder group plays a vital role in shaping strategies that safeguard a brand’s identity and reputation. In an interconnected world where brand perception can shift in an instant, a unified and proactive approach to brand protection is not just advisable—it’s essential for long-term success.
Who are your stakeholders?
This article is for informational purposes, is not intended to constitute legal advice, and may be considered advertising under applicable state laws. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and are not necessarily shared by Dilworth IP, its other attorneys, agents, or staff, or its clients.