For for many companies, online brand protection can feel like a game of whack-a-mole, with new phishing scams and cybersquatters popping up all the time.
For lawyers, constant vigilance is the only way to make sure that a client is adequately protected. For example, lawyers might constantly monitor for misuse of company and brand identities online, and would need to be prepared to respond quickly should an event occur. Even so, the amount of work required to keep a client’s brand safe isn’t always clear. How can law firms clearly communicate the value of their brand protection services?
In order to help clients understand the value of their work, lawyers can start by taking three steps to help clients understand what’s needed to protect their core business brand assets.
1. Explain the value of your client’s brand
Every brand name has a quantifiable value. In fact, if a brand is particularly well-known, the most valuable thing about its business could be its name.
For example, there are lots of burger restaurants in the country, but only one McDonald’s—the McDonald’s brand name is valued at roughly U.S. $40 billion.
Not every client is going to be a McDonald’s, but even the owners of small- to mid-sized businesses must be aware that their name makes up a substantial part of their brand value. Scams, counterfeits, and the like can degrade consumer trust and decrease brand value over time, so brand protection is key.
Brand value should be quantified and tracked regularly using a number of different factors. As this post from Kissmetrics explains, companies need to start by measuring things like brand popularity and emotional associations to their brand, while also considering market share, growth rate, and sustainability of the business.
If a company’s brand value starts to fall due to counterfeits affecting its name, for example, that’s a key indicator of the protection value your legal services can bring.
2. Clarify your client’s brand risk
Some clients are going to face more of a risk in their respective marketplaces than others, simply because of the nature of their business and/or brand name. For example, a B2B company that supplies industrial chemicals to other businesses will have a lower profile on the brand “risk” scale than a consumer-facing retail store, or a financial services company.
The nature of the brand name will also play a factor in determining risk. Trademark strength is judged on a continuum, with the weakest marks being generic or descriptive terms (think Pizza Palace, or Computer Solutions). The strongest marks are either fanciful terms (Google, Pepsi, Kodak) or arbitrary terms used for products that are not normally associated with that term (think Apple for computers). The stronger the mark, the more likely it is to be recognized.
Lawyers can look at these factors with their clients, and come up with a number that will help to quantify and communicate the risk a particular client faces, and the value a lawyer provides in helping to mitigate that risk.
3. Demonstrate how you can improve resiliency
Finally, law firms can quantify the value of their services by looking at the resiliency of a client’s brand, and how their services might improve that. Some companies will be more sensitive than others to a brand event—like a phishing scam designed to dupe its users, or a malware site that infects visitors looking for its website. One company’s bad day might sound the death knell for another.
A company’s market, customer base, history, and reputation all impact it’s resiliency. Unlike trademark strength or value, brand resiliency is intimately associated with that client’s marketplace and the goods or services that they’re selling.
Also, the ability (or inability) of a client to respond quickly to a brand event—whether on a business, legal, P.R., or tech front—is a key consideration in assessing resiliency. If your law firm uses a monitoring service like the one offered by DomainSkate to look out for potential brand events and help companies respond to them more quickly, you’re helping to increase the resiliency of your client brands. This is a useful point to communicate when explaining the value of your services to clients.
Tip: DomainSkate integrates with Clio, so lawyers can track domain alerts in one place.
Online brand protection: A valuable legal service
Lawyers can play an important role in helping protect their client’s business and brand online, and they are uniquely suited to help formulate best practices and strategy. Answering key questions about value, risk, and resiliency can help your clients understand the value of your brand protection services, allowing them to feel better about proactive choices that will keep their brands safe online.
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About David Mitnick
David Mitnick is the founder and president of DomainSkate, a brand identity protection firm. Prior to starting DomainSkate, David spent ten years as an intellectual property lawyer with Amster Rothstein & Ebenstein LLP in New York, working in all phases of intellectual property law including trademark licensing and prosecution, patent and copyright litigation and Internet law.
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