Brand abuse is a big problem, and it’s getting bigger. Between 2010-2014, the EU, US, and Japanese customs authorities seized and estimated €467.5M EU / $953.2M US / ¥100M JA in counterfeited products from China alone. The next 4 countries–Hong Kong, Turkey, Greece, and Panama–accounted for another third.
Brand abuse can come from pirate operators around the globe or from espionage within the walls of your own hijacked systems and breached intelligence.
Fraudsters can infiltrate at every stage of the product lifecycle:
- Concept phase – design ideas
- Specification – market and consumer research
- Development – actual planning and prototype development
- Pilot-production – initial launch
- Commercialization – ramp up of product, marketing
The financial impact of Brand Abuse may be difficult to monetize, but some of you have heard horror stories of business-owners, whose affiliates or distributors have skimmed the profits or sold products on the sly.
All of this is troubling, but there is good news. You can receive alerts that allow you to track activity connected to your brand, and you can use that intel to protect your intellectual property, your business assets, and your customers against Brand Abuse.
How does the customer fit into Brand Abuse victimization?
Customers expect an authentic, high-quality brand experience across all channels. A negative experience on even one channel can impact your online effort. Fraudsters will monetize on any channel where they can go undetected, especially when successful elsewhere. MarkMonitor | Brand Abuse Lurking on Social Media
In this article, Blueliv will take a broad look at some of the forms this pernicious attack takes and will share a few strategies that can bolster your security and peace of mind.
How Brand Abuse Hurts Business
Four critical ways brand abuse impacts companies:
- Financial loss
- Damage to reputation
- Aggravates customers
- Less traffic to website
Forms that Brand Abuse Takes
- Brandjacking – It is the unauthorized use of a company brand; perpetrators assume the identity of a company online with the intent to deceive trusting customers
- Counterfeiting – It is the sale of fake or pirated goods, deliberately made to look genuine, on exchanges, auction sites, eCommerce sites, and spammy emails
- Cybersquatting – It is the abuse of trademarks, domains, and names to gain buyer confidence and sell illicit goods
- False Association – It is the use of misleading citations to falsely imply relationships with companies or brands
- Grey Market Selling – It is the traffic of authentic goods through unauthorized channels; these goods may be stolen and marketed as discounted or refurbished and sold at a premium
- Malware – It is the use of email to deliver malware, viruses, keyloggers or other hijacking software
- PPC Abuse (Pay-Per-Click) – Scammers set up websites to host paid search ads using well-known brand names in the domain
- Piracy – Sale of contraband music, movies, and software
- SEO Manipulation – It is the use of brands material in visible or hidden text, meta tags and title to gain higher search engine rankings
- Typosquatting – It uses misspelled words in a domain name to divert traffic to illicit sites
All of this reflects badly on legitimate brands. Your company deserves better than to fall victim to this predatory crime.
How to protect yourself from brand abuse?
Some actions you can take as a company:
- Know how to detect when brand activity is happening on the Internet and Social Media
- Seek counsel ahead of time and be prepared to take steps when unauthorized brand activity alerts come in
- Monitor affiliates and other distribution outlets to make sure people are being honest
- Tighten compliance standards and have strong disciplinary consequences for rogue behaviors
- Check frequently to be sure your ROI metrics align with your production and sales numbers
The Blueliv Brand Abuse and Social Monitoring Module monitors your online presence to identify brand abuse, reputation damage, and other forms of attacks on your brand.
Detection of brand or trademarks use in online ads and social networks are simplified. You can schedule a free demo for the decision makers in your company today.
Final Thoughts about Brand Abuse
Investing in Brand Abuse and Social Monitoring tools is money well spent. It’s so much easier to monitor alerts and have strategies in place than to chase down rogue operators then doing damage control with exasperated customers.
You’ve invested your heart and soul into your Brand. It represents your integrity and value.
Some final thoughts on integrity and why your Brand is so important in the minds of your customers:
One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised. Chinua Achebe
History has shown that one cannot legislate a culture of integrity. And yet, one of the paramount responsibilities and challenges of corporate leadership is to ensure such a culture. Preet Bharara
Integrity has no need of rules. Albert Camus