As a brand owner, you most like are aware that that your brand is being abused online in a variety of ways. Your brand may be the target of counterfeiters, fake apps, fake or damaging blogs, rogue websites, phishing schemes, and diversion that steals sales. The damage created by these sites can be irreparable if allowed to continue unchecked.
What’s at stake:
1. Brand reputation
2. Loyal customers
3. Loyal distributors
5. Marketing investment
6. Brand value
When the brand owner embarks on the task of protecting their brand online, they face the reality that the battle can be expensive, the rules of law are not always clear, the jurisdiction lines are blurry, and the technology skills of the infringers are often better that their own. The brand owner must develop a strategy that will address all of these things while maintaining the integrity of their brand with their loyal customers. There are several tips that should be considered when developing this strategy:
Evaluate the extent of the problem as best you can.
This is a quantitative evaluation, not an emotional guess at “what’s out there”. You can either over allocate or under allocate resources if you don’t have an idea of the size of the problem. You also need to know the scope of your problem so that you can inform top management and seek proper resources to execute your strategy.
Enlist the help of technology.
Don’t underestimate the counterfeiter and infringer. They are not unskilled amateurs. Their motivation is enormous profits, so they have developed a sophisticated toolbox of deceit and disguises to trick consumers. The Internet is their friend and they know all its intricacies. You need powerful weapons as well and should enlist experts into your strategy.
Communicate your program to top management, distributors, retailers, and even customers.
These people must be in on your plan. You need their support, trust, confidence, and even help in this long-term struggle
Target the worst for action but continue to watch the others
Depending on the scope of your problem, you may realize that you don’t have the time or resources to fight them all. In most cases, many of the apparent threats are actually doing any damage. You can help yourself by trying to identify the ones who run the highest risk to your brand and your business. Again, this is another place that technology can be helpful. Evaluating the likelihood of a website or app damaging your brand can allow you to better allocate resources in the most beneficial way. However, you cannot lose sight of the less risky sites. While today they may appear of low risk that can change in an instant. Keep them in your sights today so they don’t surprise you tomorrow.
Maintain a program of on-going surveillance and enforcement.
Don’t make the mistake in thinking that once you execute an enforcement effort, you can end the program. Counterfeiters don’t act that way. The minute your guard is dropped, they strike again. As I stated, the stakes are to lucrative in this game of counterfeits. Your program must be designed for the long term; steady, targeted, technology driven, and consistent. The counterfeiters don’t like to deal with brands that are diligent and smart.