Roland Pamm
A-CAPP Center Industry Fellow
Global Brand Protection Consultant (formerly with DuPont)

The Oxford Dictionary defines Marketing as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”  For the sake of our discussion, the product is a brand protection plan or program and the service is protecting the brand from all forms of abuse including misuse, infringement, genericizing, and product counterfeiting.  The following are specific attributes to consider when marketing brand protection inside and outside your organization

It begins with gaining credibility. Inside your organization this means demonstrating the need for engaging in brand protection activities by qualifying and quantifying the impact on your organization’s brand equity, its financial results including revenue (sales volume and price) and profitability, and most importantly, its brand and your company reputation along with the subsequent trust of your clients. It also means demonstrating the potential benefit from successful enforcement of your Intellectual Property rights, and justifying it by noting that it’s inherently better to take some action against brand abuse by initiating a brand protection program than it is to keep your head in the sand without addressing it.  These problems won’t go away and will only increase and take firmer hold if ignored.

If brand protection is successfully marketed, endorsement by the company C-suite and subsequent cascading down throughout the organization is an excellent start for launching a program. This can then be reinforced with continual awareness-raising actions including promotional campaigns and educational opportunities, with the objective of justifying and gaining dedicated internal resources as champions in the most critically affected areas. Key is positioning brand protection as a mission of opportunity, rather than a burden or imposition, for partnering with and aligning key functions within the organization such as Marketing, Sales, Supply Chain & Logistics, Legal and Security, and for enhancing an organization’s and its products’ competitiveness in the global marketplace.  Brand protection can then be managed as a continuous improvement program, gauging it to specific and maturing best practices determined for each product or business. Alternatively, it can target compliance in meeting or exceeding established industry standards and regulations.  The ultimate goal is an organizational cultural shift that includes brand protection and allows it to be designed into ongoing business strategy and planning processes.

Marketing brand protection outside your organization has many similarities to doing so inside your organization.  Again, it’s all about building credibility by partnering with those who can enable and assist, and those who can “champion” the effort by providing consistent and reliable intelligence. The enablers include industry associations, benchmarking collaborators, and educational forums, with whom sharing ideas and perhaps even taking joint action can benefit your stature in the industry and with clients and even gain the respect of your competitors.  These industry ties will then influence and further strengthen established relationships with channel partners and distributors through word-of-mouth and other means of communication.

Similarly, the more educated your channel partners and distributors can become through mutual sharing of information and continuous communication on brand protection concerns and incidents, the more trustworthy “champions” and “informants” they will become and the more marketable your brand protection program becomes.  Of course, maintaining solid partners at critical points in the supply/value chain implies providing them with the proper dosage and type of information on your products to keep them trustworthy and helpful, so they can contribute to your brand protection program at an optimized level without compromising it by revealing confidential intelligence or tipping off suspect parties.  For example, differing levels of product authentication will be shared with only select channel partners depending on their importance and roles in the supply chain.  Hence, successful marketing to these groups on brand protection becomes a critical means of demonstrating confidence in the relationship and creating beneficial alliances for both parties.