Brand value chain management: Striking a balance between advocacy and unlawful infringement.

Successful brands have one thing in common: strong synergy and consistency of purpose


Dan Dimmock

2 years ago | 5 min read

Fuelled by the proliferation of social technology and peer network sharing, everyday decisions are increasingly driven by our perceptions of brands — influencing the products we buy, the organi­sations we work for, and the investments we make.

With a connected global audience of over 2 billion smartphone users, the scope for engage­ment and support is immense and growing as exposure becomes increasingly non-aligned to geographic boundaries.

With social media firmly cemented into our daily lives, technology is evolving in line with people’s appetite to share and collaborate. The use of branded emojis, emoticons and stickers, for instance, becomes less about infringe­ment and intrusive advertising, and more about connection and expression.

With brands playing such a pivotal role in influencing the choices we make, creating an affinity can be as simple as an implicitly leveraged association with a logo or partnership.

Whether a consumer or a business, we naturally align ourselves to successful brands in the hope of substantiating or improving our image.

With this desire for affinity, however, comes an increas­ing need to ensure that the reputation and market perception of a brand does not lose its value through dilution of its core ethos.

The exposure granted by associa­tion allows access􀀱 to a much larger slice of the public consciousness, and the resulting commercial bene­fits, and means that without a regulated approach, the drive to cash in on marketing expo­sure can be very attractive.

The launch of Expo 2020 Dubai’s new logo underscores the importance of the value placed on global perceptions of a particular.brand. With the event expected to draw 25 million visitors, of which 70 per cent will come from outside the UAE, the region’s first mega-event is going to offer a global platform for collaboration that will grant access to a geographically diverse and demographically dynamic region, home to 3 billion people.

Najeeb Mohammed AI Ali, executive director of the Expo 2020 Bureau, said everyone loved the bid logo and embraced it. “People in the UAE took the logo to heart, so much so, that we deliberately allowed free usage of the symbol on buildings, taxis even restaurant menus. In this way, and during that time, it served its purpose, putting and keeping Expo at the heart of the community,” he said.

Association with the Expo 2020 Dubai brand offers enormous benefits to any individual or business that can highlight a relationship with the event.

But as the brand forges ahead, boosted by the enormous groundswell of grassroots support that fuelled the initial bid phase, it becomes increasingly important that guardianship of the rights to partnership is supported by partners that encompass the key ethos and social drivers that Expo 2020 Dubai is working to create.

“The new logo was launched to institute the commercial value of Expo 2020 Dubai, particularly across all tiers of partnerships and associa­tions,” Al Ali said.

Successful brands have one thing in common: strong synergy and consistency of purpose across all commu­nications and experiences.

The association that any brand works to build in the public consciousness stems from its core goals. For Expo 2020 Dubai, for instance, these drivers also look to develop a lasting regional and global legacy beyond the event itself. As a result, the associ­ated partnerships need to be held by companies that value innovation, believe in social purpose, and contribute to solving global challenges — and hold themselves to standards that will help Expo 2020 Dubai to build a global platform for collaboration that will create a long-lasting legacy. This is crucial because, through these partnerships, companies become an integral part of the conversation that the wider public has around Expo 2020 Dubai, and therefore its wider international reputation.

As technology evolves, the need for brand custodians to possess more robust princi­ples towards brand govern­ance, management, and dissemination have become imperative. Whether an official sponsor or zealous advocate, in the absence of thoughtful and strategy-led asset management, a brand can easily fall victim to over­use and mismanagement, thereby damaging its credibil­ity in the ·wider global market­place, and the all-important court of public opinion.

Representing a nexus of destination, vision, and innovation, Expo 2020 Dubai has registered its logo and trademark under interna­tional law.

This was a critical first step towards maintaining brand integrity and future success. Protecting, detect­ing, and preventing unlawful misuse and infringement by institutionalising what was born organically as a national brand. Ziad Issa, General Counsel Expo 2020 Dubai commented:

“By taking this step early on to register and protect the Expo 2020 Dubai® trademark, it will safeguard any possible copyright and trademark infringements under the United Arab Federal Law №37 of 1992 and executive regulations promulgated hereunder.”

In addition to those offi­cially licensed to align with the exposition, and as Expo 2020 Dubai draws ever closer, the desire for third parties to leverage brand association, support and endorsement will naturally increase. However, it is at this point where unli­censed usage of the trade­mark will constitute unlawful infringement.

But potential abuse of a trademark can be avoided if there is a clear understanding of its purpose and brand value chain management instilled.

“Successful brands have one thing in common: strong synergy and consistency of purpose across all commu­nications and experiences,” says Dan Dimmock, brand strategist and managing partner of 85Fifteen (now Firstwater). “Avoid­ing misuse begins with a clear understanding of your reason-for-being, an appreciation for shared value, and an inspirational identity that is supported by a versatile brand management structure and system.”

Learning from the London 2012 Olympics and Paralym­pics Games — where brand governance, exclusivity, and enforcement was a hot topic of debate — it is essential that official partners who have the opportunity to leverage this encapsulates the values of the brand to benefit from the equity value of the association.

It is, however, also crucial that cultural supporters do not feel side­lined by commercial sponsors and licensees. To ensure clear communica­tion, education must inform, guide, and direct correct usage to all. This will help to reduce brand dilution and avoid unlicensed commercial association.

As a key organisational asset, inextricably connected to legacy and purpose, a well­ managed brand delivers value to all stakeholders — whether an employee, customer, investor, partner or supplier.

Subscribing to dedicated processes will inspire a strong contingency of-legitimate advocates -people from inside and outside the organisation who are aligned to its vision, empowered and committed to achieving shared value and, of course, sustainable success.

This article was commissioned by Brunswick Group, on behalf of Expo Dubai 2020 and first appeared in the June-July 2016 edition of Arabian Business, published by ITP Media Group.
This article was originally published on medium.


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