Brand protection can be an alien concept to some businesses, not because there is anything fundamentally difficult about it but because it doesn’t always fit neatly into traditional organizational charts.
The familiar company chart that many businesses use as a model outlines specific roles that have become enshrined in business practice. The Managing Director, for example, bears responsibility for leadership but is less concerned with specific detail. Function directors oversee areas such as Finance, HR, Marketing, Sales and Operations, which are all complemented by the work of managers and employee operatives.
Nowhere in this traditional scheme, however, is there space for a position which cuts across Legal, Financial, Operations and Communications: This is the work of the brand protection Specialist.
Brand protection requires work that is, by its nature, cross-functional. It needs someone who isn’t just a dabbler, but who understands the varied disciplines of intellectual property, merchandising, distribution, social media and a range of other related fields.
If your business wants to increase its brand protection efforts though, even within the most traditional organizational structures, there are tasks which every role can contribute.
Manufacturing, Quality Control and Sales
Your employees are your brand champions. They spend more time with your products than anyone else and will be among the quickest to spot fakes in the marketplace, so make sure they’re aware of the brand protection function within your business:
– Do you have a company newsletter or email roundup which highlights your good wins against counterfeiters? This can encourage staff to contribute more information about places where they’ve seen possible fakes worth investigating.
– Is staff training on distinguishing between genuine and fake products provided? Educated employees can provide extra sets of eyes out in the real world when time and resources are limited.
– Does your brand protection specialist provide updates to your business on the number of goods seized or removed online? This can be a great motivator for businesses trying to boost official sales.
Sales and Marketing Managers, Legal Counsel and HR
Business function managers need to communicate effectively with their directors, with their staff and especially with each other. Without good communication between sections of your management there are likely to be delayed and missed opportunities which can allow fakes into the market and drain profitability:
– Are your managers speaking to each other? Some areas of work such as Marketing and Sales naturally align, but what about Legal and Sales, for example? Without sight of what sells well in a given territory, your Legal department may not have the best view of which trade marks they should be registering. Likewise, without any knowledge of what your intellectual property portfolio looks like the Sales team may be less well informed about problems in overseas markets.
– Who is delivering staff training? To maximize awareness of brand protection throughout your business, anti-counterfeiting and product recognition training can be a great way to encourage departments to learn from one another. Managers may want to invite speakers from other departments or to arrange a regular programme of training which will keep all members of the business up to date.
Sales, Marketing, Finance and Legal Directors
What should the bosses be doing to assist with brand protection, and who is going to tell them? Well, everyone should tell them because they may need feedback. As has been said above, brand protection can be a multi-layered and often neglected area which suffers from being spread across too many departments. In order to lead properly, directors should have adequate oversight across all business areas, so the advice on this one is very simple. If you’re a director then ask your people, all of them. Solicit their advice on what problems may exist and ask what possible solutions people in different departments may have; it’s up to you to put it all together. If you’re not a director then make sure you tell them what the problems are and be prepared to contribute to how your area of work can make improvements to the process.
Let’s finish, however, with the most important person, the customer.
Particularly for companies who sell direct to consumers and who rely heavily on their branding (fashion, FMCG, consumer tech), encouraging your customers to work with you on brand protection matters is crucial. What can you do?
– Have you posted a brand protection information webpage on your website? This can be an excellent resource for showing the differences between genuine and counterfeit goods. It’s wrong to assume that all buyers of counterfeits are intentionally buying fakes, many are simply naïve.
– A brand protection webpage can also be a good place to encourage consumers to contact you with details of questionable sellers and websites. With their own anonymity protected, customers often feel freer to divulge these details. You may even be surprised how often manufacturers and sellers of fake goods are keen to turn in the names of others doing the same thing!
-Are you using your social media channels to encourage sales of official merchandise? Education can be one of the best tools in the brand protection armory, and creating interesting and compelling content can boost consumer loyalty.
If all of this seems beyond the reach of a single department or individual for your company though, there’s a simpler solution that all of our clients have come to trust and rely upon. If you’ve got these problems then why not call in the experts to act as a trusted partner? Speak to Pointer today for advice on what we can do to help with your brand protection efforts.