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Ch 10: Legal Considerations for Brand Standards

The elements of brand identity (such as name, logo, tagline, packaging design, etc.) can be protected legally against copying or unauthorized use–provided that these elements are distinctive and unique to an organization.

Of course, you need to be sure your own work is genuinely original–as is always true for professionals who follow ethical standards of practice.

Most designers and copywriters are not experts in trademark and copyright law. Therefore, it’s important to consider seeking advice from experts as you prepare your standards manual.

  • If you are an employee of an organization, ask your supervisor when the material in your manual will be reviewed by the organization’s legal staff. If it’s a big organization, don’t wait too long to ask for this review, since the result could necessitate changes in your work.
  • If you are working as a consultant or freelancer, ask the organization contact person when your materials will be reviewed by an attorney–and don’t stop if you get the response “we don’t have a lawyer.”

If the organization you’re working with is small, new, and/or family-owned, you may be told there is no attorney, or no need for legal review. In that instance, proceed with caution!

You might even want to prepare a document known as a “hold harmless agreement,” which will protect you if your client/boss gets into legal trouble regarding their brand materials.

We’ll have more details to share on this topic soon–as soon as we finish our consultations with the appropriate experts.

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