5 December, 2020

Does your brand protection strategy include digital alignments?

A successful brand protection strategy must also be accompanied with an efficient digital strategy.

Looking at legal departments in general, in the absence of case studies on brand protection teams, 65% do not have a clear digital strategy with milestones and due dates. Furthermore, 79% of the legal departments indicate that there is no specific budget for a digital strategy, based on a report from the Nordics (Legal Departments Digital Maturity Benchmark Report 2020 – Wolters Kluwer, Nordic Edition).

We are frequently talking to various brand protection teams. They are all strongly focused on defining and implementing a brand protection strategy that will help their business to manage when their products are being counterfeited, often with a rather reactive than proactive approach.

Due to the complexity of counterfeiting and the fast and ever-changing landscape of the online and offline markets, brand protection teams need digital capabilities. Digital capabilities are on the one hand determined by the organisation’s digital maturity and the process of successfully integrating day-to-day operations into digital processes, and on the other hand the investment in digital infrastructure, software and apps.

Today, it is impossible to imagine a human resource (HR) or a finance department without an efficient digital platform. Even though legal departments have been left behind, the benefits for brand protection going digital are indubitable. Technology is transforming the way we interact and creating a modern digital legal workspace.

Brand protection teams have an opportunity of leveraging data and technology to better connect with stakeholders, streamline legal tasks, and create more intelligent and efficient platforms for collaboration. Data driven decision making can free up legal staff to tackle more strategic work. Digital transformation can effectively improve the delivery of legal services in practical and innovative ways.

Almost all brand protection teams agree on the benefits of technology, but some have experienced challenges with implementing new digital solutions, from managing communication with IT, resistance to change in the legal department, building consensus across different geographies and obtaining resources and budget. 

Based on our conversation with brand protection teams, there is an explicit path that defines the digital maturity of the brand protection team. For each step, teams increase what they can deliver in terms of efficiency, flexibility, scalability, performance and creativity based on technology.

Steps in brand protection digital maturity.

  1. Brand protection information and communication is handled with classical spreadsheets, email and documents. There is no digital coordination between the parties working together on brand protection (internal teams, local law firms, investigators). Instead, people are working in silos. 
  2. Brand protection data is stored in a central repository like a generic case management tool. Individual brand protection related digital pilot projects are being initiated without overall coordination and without integration with a common digital infrastructure. Online monitoring is being outsourced to a service provider.
  3. A brand protection strategy now also starts to contain a digital strategy. Brand protection teams are starting to gather information on brand protection software platforms to invest in digital capabilities for increased flexibility, scalability and performance. 
  4. Brand protection teams are coordinating their activities and storing their intelligence in a central cloud platform built for brand protection. All relevant data is shared across the parties in a coherent manner using templates, standard reporting and workflows. 
  5. Repeatable work of the brand protection team can be automated. Together with data-driven analytics and decision-making legal staff can be free up to tackle more strategic work.
  6. With an open brand protection platform, the team can gather data from multiple sources, integrating various brand protection software into a common ecosystem. The brand protection team is investing for greater transparency and flexibility, using big data and augmented analytics to handle complexity and change as well as to further improve their brand protection strategy.
  7. Digital transformation has enabled and empowered a creative and agile organisation that quickly can react to changes with new and innovative ways of working. There is no distinction between traditional and digital brand protection activities, the digital is a seamlessly integrated element into everyday operations. Decisions are based on data driven insights from various data sources, moving focus from being reactive to proactive.

Having a clear strategy and adopting digital technology to support the strategy, enables brand protection teams to increase the value that can be delivered in the most efficient way. The ability to adopt digital capabilities is determined by successfully integrating day-to-day operations into digital processes and investing in flexible and scalable technology infrastructure.

Naturally, brand protection teams lack the expert skills in digital transformation and establishing digital infrastructure to support their brand protection strategy. So to move forward, partner up with professionals with both knowledge and experiences in tech and legal, learn from best practices and proven methods, establish an open technology infrastructure for a high level of flexibility, and finally take an incremental approach: prioritise and move step by step toward your brand protection strategy.

Peter Furby, CEO, DH Anticounterfeit

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