UK: Start-Up Guide To Brand Management

Last Updated: 22 December 2013
Article by Tristan Mutimer

What is a brand?

A strong brand helps distinguish products from your competitors'. It adds value to the business by enhancing consumer awareness and improving customer loyalty. A brand can be made up of many elements, including:

  • A logo (Nike swish).
  • A word (Kodak).
  • A colour (Virgin red).
  • A shape (Coca-Cola bottle).
  • A strap line or jingle (The future's bright, the future's Orange).
  • A domain name (
  • A person's name (David Beckham).

A strong brand can be an extremely valuable commercial asset, but brands are also fragile and can be lost or devalued if they are not adequately protected. When brands are damaged, companies can have huge value wiped from them overnight. For example, it was reported that BP had billions of dollars wiped from the value of its brand in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Creating and protecting a brand

Many elements of a brand can be protected as intellectual property rights. These are legal rights that apply to creative works and, for example, prevent copying and unauthorised third party use.

Initial considerations

  • Take legal advice early on in the creative process. This will help ensure that whatever is created can be protected and does not infringe other people's brands or other rights.
  • Take great care when involving third parties, such as brand consultants or advertising agencies, in creating a brand. Make sure that they sign confidentiality agreements and transfer rights in their creative output (such as copyright) to the business.
  • Carry out internet research to check that the brand is not already being used by another company. Instruct a law firm to conduct further searches of the relevant intellectual property registries if necessary.
  • Keep accurate records of the development process and date stamp these documents. This will help provide evidence if there is an infringement claim. For example, evidence that it was created as part of an original process, rather than copied.

Legal protection

A business can use legal rights to protect its brands:

  • Copyright applies to original work such as creative or artistic output including a piece of writing, music, photograph, software or video clip. It provides automatic protection to original work against other people copying the work without permission, and does not require registration or other formalities.
  • Trade mark rights arise through registration and use in a commercial context and can protect brand elements such as logos, slogans and colours.

Registration: why and where?

  • Some elements of a brand can get greater protection if they are registered. Applications to register these rights will be tested, among other things, on their merits and against existing third party rights.
  • Registration gives a business the exclusive right to use the trade mark and enforce that right against anyone using it without their permission. Unregistered rights are similar but are harder to enforce and therefore protect; this is by means of a "passing off" action.
  • Registration makes enforcement a lot easier but it may be costly and time-consuming.

Using a brand

Once a brand has been created and protected, it is important that the business uses it consistently and does nothing that could cause it to lose protection:

  • Draw up or review existing brand guidelines.
  • Strictly enforce brand guidelines internally and externally to build up the brand, its market presence and therefore its value.
  • Even minor changes in the way a brand is used (for example, in font or colour) can create a new right that will need to be protected in addition to the rights the business already has. This can increase costs dramatically.
  • Use copyright notices © and trade mark symbols (" for an unregistered trade mark and ® for a registered trade mark) where appropriate. They act as an early warning system to would-be infringers and will help the business prove that a defendant knew about the right.
  • Ensure that registered rights are used. Failure to do so can, in some cases, result in loss of protection.
  • Ensure that any renewal fees for registered rights are paid on time
  • Check that any brands licensed from third parties are being used in accordance with the terms of that licence.

Exploiting a brand

A brand can be commercially exploited in a number of ways. The main methods are by licence or assignment:

  • A licence is an agreement that gives another business the right to use a brand for a defined period in a defined territory. Once the term has ended ownership and control of the brand returns to the original brand owner.
  • An assignment is an agreement that sells a brand to another business. The original brand owner loses control of it but will generally receive a lump sum in return.

Always take legal advice before allowing a third party to use the business' brand either formally or informally.

  • A written agreement governing use of the brand should always be signed if the business is considering entering into an agreement with a third party.
  • Put guidelines in place governing the use of the business' brand by others and strictly enforce these guidelines.
  • The business can request that a third party obtains prior written approval for use of its brand.

Enforcing a brand

A business can lose brand protection if individuals are allowed to use its brand on an unauthorised basis, however minor. Misuse of a business' brand by others will also weaken its value. Businesses must therefore monitor infringement and actively pursue infringers:

  • Keep accurate records of permitted third party use of brands and monitor use.
  • Have a system in place for reporting unauthorised use of the business' brand.
  • Make sure everyone understands the importance of reporting any misuse of the business' brand.
  • Take legal advice immediately if the business becomes aware of any misuse of its brand.

Do not infringe other people's brands

  • Be very careful if the business uses another company's brand in any of its marketing.
  • A business can use a competitor's brands in its own adverts, subject to certain restrictions, and provided there is no denigration.
  • Take legal advice if the business is considering using a rival brand in any of its advertising.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.