Total Brand Care: The benefits of a holistic approach to creating, commercializing, and protecting company brands

At Hogan Lovells, we understand that brands are the heart of a company’s value, reputation, and competitive advantage. Total Brand Care is our holistic approach to creating, commercializing, and protecting our client’s brands.

In this interview, Lloyd Parker, Office Managing Partner and head of the Hogan Lovells Intellectual Property, Media, and Technology practice group in Asia, explains why Total Brand Care is the most comprehensive and effective approach available for clients with brand care needs or challenges. “We offer brand-related legal and related services that few other firms can offer,” said Lloyd.

Why did Hogan Lovells decide to create the Total Brand Care campaign? 

Lloyd: The key starting point here is that brands are arguably the most valuable asset of any company. If you look at any company in the world and try to work out what is its most important asset, it’s not the company holdings, it’s not their patents, it’s not even their particular products. Their most important asset is their overarching brand. There have been studies that show where a huge percentage of many famous companies’ market capitalization is in their brand value.

How can clients benefit from our Total Brand Care services?

Lloyd: The Total Brand Care campaign is a holistic approach that provides clients with legal services as well as access to teams of specialized practitioners in related brand care services. The extensive experience of these practitioners is a central component to providing brand-related guidance to clients or resolving their issues of concern. At times, companies will need guidance as to how far they can go in promoting their brands without breaching the law; at other times they will need guidance on what they can do to protect their brand from illegal activities of third parties; and at other times they will need guidance on what to do when a legal event occurs that could potentially damage their brand value and their company's reputation.

For example:

  • Marketing & Advertising is essential for the promotion of brands. In a rush to increase sales as much as possible through marketing, some companies may go too far with their content. We have more than 100 lawyers with know-how in marketing and advertising laws. These lawyers guide our clients to get the greatest impact from their marketing and advertising whilst still complying with the law or to take action against competitors that have breached the law in a way that affects our clients' rights. For example, this work can involve copy clearance, resolving advertising complaints, and handling actions involving comparative advertising and unfair competition; 
  • labeling helps provide proof of the quality of a brand. Most clients have a good understanding of labeling laws in their home jurisdiction, but they often experience greater uncertainty when they expand into new markets overseas. Noncompliance may result in fines and more importantly losing the trust of your customers. Our product labeling and packaging team helps clients navigate those labeling regulations in many countries successfully;
  • product liability issues often arise in one particular country and spread quickly to other countries. Few things can be more damaging to a company’s brand value than a claim of a product defect, which can quickly spread through the online world and social media and result in official investigations and civil and criminal actions. In those times of crisis, our global products law practice will be there to support our clients;
  • M&A activity and the establishment of joint ventures are often used to enter into new markets, acquire attractive brands, and to maintain growth. Our 500-plus M&A lawyers combine with our lawyers specializing in connected areas, like intellectual property, to cover issues such as due diligence, transaction structure, negotiation, execution, and delivery; 
  • antitrust and competition law violations can have a huge negative impact on brand value. An obvious example is widely publicized cartel-type cases. Also companies that have acquired large market share through powerful brands have to be particularly careful about their conduct, including what terms they include in their commercial contracts or else they risk breaching laws relating to abuse of dominant market power. Our antitrust and competition practice advises companies on the complex, ever-changing competition laws to help protect their reputation and brand value;
  • our privacy and cybersecurity lawyers are on the cutting edge of legal, policy, and technical matters regarding data use, data privacy, and data protection. Their services are highly valued by our clients whose brands generate high sales resulting in large amounts of customer data, which may be the subject of cyber attacks; and 
  • effective and appropriate communications after these types of crisis have occurred is essential in protecting a company's reputation and their brand value. Within Hogan Lovells we have a dedicated and highly experienced crisis communications team that works hand-in-hand with our lawyers to provide an effective integrated service to our clients in their time of need.

This is not an exhaustive list. But the point to keep in mind is that we have practitioners within the firm who can help clients navigate virtually every brand-related matter. 

What is the primary challenge that clients confront when they’re creating, acquiring, or building a brand?

Lloyd: Within most companies there are many different people, teams, and departments whose role is connected to creating, acquiring, or building a brand. A common area in which many companies could improve is greater integration, communication, and cooperation among those people, teams, and departments.

For example, the following people, teams, and departments may be involved during the lifecycle of a brand:

  • R&D people are involved in the product’s original development and often assign a project name to it that can become so ingrained within the company it is chosen as the actual brand despite legal weaknesses or issues with the name;
  • the business team may often lead the brand name creation process and will always lead the subsequent sales activities of the product; 
  • the trademark team is focused on doing the clearance searches and getting the trademark registered and later may lead trademark enforcement programs for the relevant product;
  • the marketing department may also be involved in suggesting candidate names for brand and will lead packaging, advertising, and promotion; 
  • the legal department will be involved in a wide range of activities affecting brands such as: M&A with a view to acquiring a particular company for its products and brands; and the companies' compliance with a range of laws and regulations; and
  • dedicated privacy and cybersecurity teams are also increasingly being set up within companies to deal with their specialized area.

Unfortunately, for many companies the above mentioned people, teams, and departments often operate in silos and there is insufficient timely communication and cooperation among them. For their own specialty, they think, well, this is my specialty, I’ll deal with it. But many fail to realize that the way they approach or react to a particular issue (e.g., the creation of brands, the labeling and marketing of products, a product liability crisis, an antitrust violation, a privacy breach, or a cyber attack) requires more of a multidisciplinary team approach to ensure a better outcome for their company's brands.

What makes our approach to brand care services different, and how does that difference benefit our clients?

Lloyd: Most law firms would not be able to offer a Total Brand Care service like us, even if they wanted to do so, because they don’t have our global reach, breadth of relevant practice area specialties, or integrated cooperation among our offices and practice areas. It is particularly our award-winning specialty areas (e.g., intellectual property, product liability, privacy, cybersecurity) that sets us apart from other big international corporate law firms. We’ve even have our own strategic and crisis communications practitioners within Hogan Lovells who work seamlessly with our lawyers.

We’re bringing together all of those different legal specialties and areas in a coordinated way so that we can provide to the client a much more holistic approach to brand care throughout the lifecycle of the brand. This is not just about creating and registering a brand, it is about being at the side of the client through every moment of the brand to help the client develop and protect the brand, its value, and the company's reputation. 

About Lloyd Parker

As head of our Intellectual Property, Media, and Technology practice group in Asia, Lloyd Parker provides trademark portfolio management and enforcement counsel to clients in a broad range of industries. With more than 25 years of experience as an IP lawyer, he regularly works with the firm’s global offices and with other law firms in more than 150 jurisdictions to offer multijurisdictional trademark advice (contentious and non-contentious) to clients. 

Having gained experience as a management consultant at one of the world's most famous management consulting companies, he provides legal counsel in a commercial, strategic, and practical manner. As part of his role as the Managing Partner of the Tokyo office he regularly had and continues to have the opportunity to meet and work with partners of many of our other practice areas in many different jurisdictions to assist our Japanese clients. It is through this involvement that he could see the potential benefits to clients and their brands if a much more holistic approach to brand creation, development, commercialization, and protection was adopted. And so our Total Brand Care concept was created.   

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