With the ability to enhance the value of your company, communicate its culture, and carve out a unique spot in the market, your brand is vital to the success of your business. Having a robust brand strategy to define how consumers perceive you should be an essential part of your marketing plan, as well as your wider business strategy as a whole.
However, perhaps the most crucial aspect of this strategy is brand protection. Unfortunately, success can attract imitators and even thieves, so shielding your company from such practices is an important part of maintaining the reputation and integrity of your products and services.
Implementing a Brand Protection Strategy
In order to protect your brand, it's necessary to take a series of actions in tandem, rather than rely on one particular method. Here are seven steps that you should follow that enable you to cover all bases.
1. Register All of Your Intellectual Property
The threat of trademark or copyright infringement is a very real one, and can have serious and detrimental consequences if not adequately prevented. Not only are the designs of your products and your branding (such as your logo) important to consider, but also your media: photography and videography, including print advertisements and radio or television announcements, and your written content.
Regardless of the size of your company, you should actively seek to protect your intellectual property (IP) through both legal and practical means. If the success of your brand relies on a trade secret, such as a formula or a recipe, then it is even more crucial that you take appropriate measures to keep your IP safe.
2. Keep Your Consumers Well Educated
As part of your brand strategy, you should be keeping your clientele well educated on everything to do with your products or services, including how they are manufactured or sourced – and, crucially, how they can spot a fake.
This is because forgery is a genuine concern. Indeed, a 2019 survey by IP infringement specialists, Red Points, found that 69% of customers are worried about accidentally purchasing counterfeits in the cosmetics industry, while 19.5% of respondents have actually done so. Although this is just one industry, these figures serve to highlight not just the scale of the problem, but also its effect on the purchasing habits of your customers.
By educating consumers on how to spot a counterfeit and emphasising the quality of your original product, they are less likely to be fooled by – or worse, willingly seek out – a competitor's reproduction of your brand.
3. Implement a Minimum Advertised Price Policy
Releasing and distributing a Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) policy is a highly effective way to increase your brand name protection. This document clearly states the minimum prices that resellers are allowed to sell your products at, ensuring the integrity and reputation of your brand and discouraging individual vendors from engaging in price wars.
This tactic can also serve to legitimise your relationship with store owners, leading to the avoidance of brand erosion. Essentially, you are preventing the perception of your company as a creator of low-quality items, with fixed minimum prices.
4. Only Allow Authorised Dealers to Sell Your Product
Implementing an authorised dealer programme creates an agreement between yourself (the brand and manufacturer) and any associated in-store and online resellers. This is wise, as, by setting higher standards on who can sell your products, you are indirectly establishing brand name protection.
In determining this list, you should hand-pick retailers that will go above and beyond to not only feature and sell your products, but to offer the individuals coming into their store the best customer experience possible.
This will allow you to have greater control over the consumer experience and, as a result, encourage them to become a return customer.
5. Allow Customers to Leave Online Reviews
With 63% of customers feeling more inclined to purchase from a website featuring user reviews, it's clear why taking advantage of such a simple online addition is imperative. Furthermore, website visitors who were able to evaluate both reviews and answers to posed customer questions were 105% more likely to make a purchase, spending 11% more than those who did not have that same interaction.
Therefore, your course of action should be obvious. By opening up your website to customer reviews, not only will you have a better idea of what they love about your product, but also a sense of what needs to be altered to completely satisfy your clients and keep them coming back for more.
6. Consider a Specific Online Brand Protection Strategy
Implementing a brand protection strategy for an online business is a slightly different animal to a bricks-and-mortar venture, as the risks are often a lot more sophisticated.
For instance, you need to consider rogue websites or email campaigns that attempt to imitate your own, as well as widespread copyright infringements, trademark squatting (trademarking a business' material in foreign countries, without permission), patent theft, and the frequent occurrence of brand impersonation on social media.
By exercising basic password security as a preventative measure and monitoring the web for evidence of any of the practices listed, your company can detect and flag any potential issues. You can then work with ISP providers and search engine authorities such as Google to report these problems swiftly and shut them down.
7. Constantly Evolve and Stay Ahead of Your Imitators
While consumers generally don't want a product to which they're loyal to undergo drastic changes every month, you still need to be looking forward and evolving. Not only does this give you an edge over your legitimate competitors, but it also ensures that by the time those looking to imitate and copy you have caught up, you have already moved on.
With this in mind, market research is vital in determining what it is that your customers want. Consumer trends change over time, but by giving the paying public access to the products, services and consumer experiences that they desire, you will always be streets ahead of any second-rate imitations. Besides, by making new and innovative items available to the public, it becomes increasingly difficult for forgery companies to keep up with counterfeit products.
By considering and implementing a brand protection strategy using the tactics listed above, you are responsibly safeguarding the interests of your company. Remember: nobody is going to do it for you, and as soon as you become even remotely successful, copycats and thieves will start circling.
Therefore, it's your prerogative to ensure that you make any such infringements as difficult as possible, while allowing yourself the legal right to pursue and punish those who attempt to rip you off.
Are there any additional methods that you would utilise in your brand protection strategy? Let us know your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.