Brand protection: 5 threats you need to know about
From loss of sales to loss of customer loyalty, these are the consequences of poor brand protection
Threats to brand protection can come from a variety of sources, including competitors, counterfeiters, and online pirates. Companies need to be aware of these threats and do what they can to mitigate them.
The main threats to brand protection
1. Intellectual Property Infringement
Intellectual property infringement is the unauthorised use of a brand’s trademarks, logos, or other unique brand identifiers without permission. This can lead to customer confusion, lost sales, and damage to the brand’s reputation. Moreover, sometimes it is difficult to take legal action against a brand’s infringers, making it more important for businesses to proactively protect their brand.
2. Brand protection and Counterfeiting
When speaking about brand protection, counterfeiting is probably the main threat.
Counterfeit goods are illegal imitations of branded products that are often sold at lower prices. This damages the brand's reputation since not all customers are able to recognise that the product they bought is fake, blaming the brand for the poor quality. But counterfeiting also causes lost sales. According to EUIPO, 60 billion euros are lost every year across the EU due to counterfeiting in 13 key economic sectors.
3. Trademark Infringement, Online Piracy and Social Media Abuse
Trademark infringement is when a brand’s trademarks are used without permission. This can lead to customer confusion and loss of sales. It also damages brand reputation since customers may assume the brand is not taking its brand protection seriously.
However, in today’s digital world, brand protection has become more difficult, since anybody can copy and paste any piece of digital content from any brand and use it for other purposes.
Online piracy is the unauthorised use of a brand's content, such as videos, photos, music, or other material on websites or social media platforms. It often leads to customer confusion and brand dilution, which is when brand content is used in ways that do not reflect the brand's intended message or values.
Similar to Online Piracy is Social Media Abuse. Social media has become an important platform for brands to reach customers, but individuals or groups can use brand logos or images without permission, creating fake accounts to impersonate the brand, or using brand hashtags to spread false information.
4. Grey Market and Unauthorised Reselling
The Grey Market is a worldwide network of unauthorised resellers that buy brand products from distributors or retailers and sell them at different prices, often in different countries than those originally intended. This affects brand reputation by giving customers a negative impression of the brand, especially if the brand’s products are sold at lower than expected prices. It also leads to lost sales, since customers may choose to buy brand products from unauthorised resellers instead of from authorised brand distributors or retailers.
5. Copycatting and Competitor Imitation
Copycatting is when a brand’s competitors imitate its products, services, or brand identity. This can lead to customer confusion and brand dilution, since customers may not be able to distinguish between the brand’s original product or service and those of competitors. It also affects brand reputation, since customers may think the brand is not innovative enough or that its competitors are offering better products or services.
How to protect a brand
Fortunately, there are a few steps companies can take to protect their brand.
Firstly, they should ensure their brand identifiers - such as logos and trademarks - are registered in the countries they plan on doing business.
Of course, brands should monitor online activity, especially on social media, to discover any potential abuse, such as unauthorised use of logos or images. To do so, they can invest in innovative technologies such as brand monitoring software which can discover unauthorised use of branded content online. They can also have a dedicated team to monitor websites, e-commerce platforms, and social media platforms, as well as take legal action against any misuse of brand content.
Regarding counterfeiting, brands need product authentication systems, like that of Certilogo, to give customers the chance to immediately check if the product they are buying is an original or fake.
Data generated by authentications can be used to help brands monitor products, and identify non conforming distribution of licensed products, over production and grey markets and provide brands with evidence required to take defensive action
Moreover, brands should create clear guidelines and educate employees about what brand protection is and why it’s important. This will help to reduce brand protection risks and create a brand protection culture within the company.
Given that brand protection is an ongoing challenge for businesses of all sizes, it’s important for them to do what they can to protect their identity, reputation, and profitability. This will ensure that brands remain strong and successful for many years to come. Furthermore, brand protection can enhance customer trust, maintain brand loyalty, and ultimately increase sales. These are the keys to long-term success in today’s competitive market.