The Rebrand: Better Call Legal
Legal in the Creative Process
As an attorney working with creative clients, I am a huge proponent of having legal involved in the creative process. Whether it’s at the brainstorm session or at the pitch, a lawyer can provide a completely new perspective on a creative problem or solution, help identify risk, and ensure legal compliance in a creative campaign.
Every brand – whether you’re a small boutique law firm like us or a massive packaged goods company -will go through an inevitable rebrand on some level. You need a new logo, new company name, or you’re looking at a whole new brand identity. A rebrand is a great time to audit all the bits and pieces that come together to communicate that identity. A good communication plan will involve your employees, your vendors and suppliers, and the entities which regulate your business or industry. All will have parts to play in a successful rebrand.
So where can legal help you?
1. Intellectual Property Ownership. You own your trademarks for your current logo and associated marks but with a new logo, you have to start the process all over again. Make sure that you can legally own and use any new names, logos, color combinations, slogans, taglines or other elements – including copyrightable materials- and that the new brand doesn’t conflict with any existing properties. Develop an enforcement strategy for the new intellectual property and have a plan for your current intellectual property. Will you continue to own it and pay renewal fees or let the renewals lapse and no longer claim ownership?
2. Company Corporate Documents. Are you going to change the name of your company? It’s not as simple as changing a sign. Any corporate document with the old name will need to be changed to the new name and often, this requires that amendments or other registration documents be filed with the State Corporation Commission or other entities. There are also other considerations depending on your corporate structure such as board approval or resolutions.
3. Agreements with Third Parties. Do your agreements with vendors, suppliers or other third parties allow for you to continue as-is with name changes or do you need to execute new agreements? Are these vendors using any of your IP in their services to you and will they need to change their practices on your behalf? If you use affiliate marketers, influencers or other brand ambassadors, have a clear plan as to how you will not only communicate but also enforce those changes
4. Internal Documentation. This is “everything else” that has your name on it. Website terms of service and privacy policies, domain names, automatic email responses, internal communications and employee policies such as social media – they all need to reflect and support the rebranding effort.
5. Regulatory Concerns. Depending on your industry there will be a host of other issues that may pop up as you begin the rebranding process. Do you have labelled products for example. Are you in a regulated industry that may add additional complications? Have you notified all of the people who need to know about the rebrand such as banks and trade associations?
The best advice for a rebranding effort is to plan, plan, plan. Everyone has a part to play in the implementation (including a good lawyer). And if you plan then you avoid costly re-dos later.