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  • Writer's pictureArt Fletcher

The Missing Link in Brand Protection Solutions

Profitability is the new growth driver, and a brand protection solution or strategy is critical for maximizing long term health and profitability. The challenge is understanding and taking action against the specific factors that are negatively impacting every brands health and profitability.



Making tracked data actionable has been the missing link in brand protection solutions.
Making tracked data actionable has been the missing link in brand protection solutions.

Long term brand health is the goal, and achieving that unlocks a treasure trove of options and opportunities for a brand to capitalize. Brand health primarily consists of brand awareness, perception, equity, customer satisfaction, market share, brand loyalty, consistency, marketing, innovation and financial performance. They are all connected and are all under fire from multiple angles all the time. The negative influence on brand health outside of a brands control (until recently) is the grey market. The grey market refers to the trade of products through distribution channels that are not authorized by the original manufacturer or trade mark proprietor. The grey market is a virus on brand health, initially impacting financial performance and perception before wreaking havoc on the other attributes of brand health.


The pain points of the detractors of brand health are fairly obvious and knowing where to start and how to tie a comprehensive solution together is challenging. This article aims to do just that. By reviewing the importance of a brand protection solution, exploring the capabilities of some service providers, how to put a brand protection solution together, the benefits to brands who protect their brand health, the future issues that will be presented to brands, and finally what to consider when implementing a brand protection solution, we hope to provide you with a blueprint of what to look for and the questions to answer to create a sound brand protection solution for your company.


What is a Brand Protection Solution?


A brand protection solution encompasses a range of strategies, technologies, and measures employed by businesses to safeguard their brand identity, intellectual property, and reputation. It typically involves monitoring, detecting, and mitigating instances of unauthorized use, infringement, and misuse of a brand's name, logo, products, or intellectual assets across various channels, especially in the digital sphere.


As outlined in the brand health attributes, the importance of safeguarding a brand's reputation and integrity in today's competitive market cannot be overstated. In the digital age, where information spreads rapidly and consumer trust is paramount, a brand's reputation can significantly impact its success and longevity. Here are some key reasons why brand protection is crucial:


  1. Maintaining Trust and Credibility: Consumers rely on brands they trust. Any instance of counterfeit products, fraudulent activities, or unauthorized usage of a brand's name or logo can erode consumer trust and credibility, leading to a loss of customer loyalty and revenue.

  2. Protecting Intellectual Property: A brand's intellectual property, including trademarks, copyrights, and patents, represents valuable assets. Unauthorized use or infringement can dilute the brand's uniqueness, innovation, and market position, ultimately affecting its competitiveness and profitability.

  3. Preserving Brand Value: Brands invest significant resources in building their value, reputation, and recognition. Protecting against unauthorized use helps preserve this value and ensures that the brand's image remains positive and consistent, reinforcing its market position and differentiation from competitors.

  4. Preventing Revenue Loss: Unauthorized sellers exploiting a brand's identity or selling counterfeit products can divert sales away from legitimate channels, leading to revenue loss. Brand protection solutions help mitigate such revenue leakage by identifying and taking action against unauthorized sellers and counterfeiters.

  5. Compliance and Legal Obligations: Businesses have legal obligations to protect their intellectual property rights. Failure to do so can result in legal disputes, fines, or damage to the brand's reputation. Simply put, if you don't protect your intellectual property or trade secrets, a court could determine that your IP is not valuable, and may limit the companies ability to be compensated for infringement. Implementing robust brand protection measures demonstrates compliance with intellectual property laws and regulatory requirements.

  6. Enhancing Customer Experience: Brand protection measures not only safeguard the brand but also contribute to a positive customer experience. By ensuring authenticity, quality, and consistency of products and services, brands can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.

In the scenario where someone uses your brand name or logo to sell unauthorized products online, the repercussions can be detrimental. It not only damages your reputation but also confuses customers and undermines your sales efforts. Brand protection solutions play a vital role in addressing such threats by monitoring online platforms, detecting unauthorized usage, enforcing intellectual property rights, and taking appropriate legal actions when necessary. By proactively safeguarding your brand identity and intellectual property, you can uphold your brand's integrity, trustworthiness, and competitiveness in the market.


Exploring Brand Protection Solutions.


Brand protection solutions need to be customized to every business, but the building blocks are consistent. Every solution requires a tool to report market listings and a work flow to action the information that the company is receiving on the marketplace activity.


The grey market lives on and off of e-commerce, but the clear volume of grey market transactions are found on-line. With that fact an e-commerce tracking service provider is a requirement as table stakes of the brand protection game. There are several great tracking options, and each have specific strengths that fit different needs and budgets, TrackStreet, Prism Commerce, Potoo Solutions, i2o retail, Price Spider, Wiser Solutions, and MAPP Trap are some of the best with a lot of experience and success delivering data. We haven't yet talked to Brand Guarde, or Brand Shield, but we know that they are also active in this field, with Brand Shield specializing in counterfeit sales and trademark infringements.


Depending on your in-house capabilities, you may have a need for legal advice or other additional support.


If you need legal advice on policies, strategy and litigation, the team at K&L Gates are excellent, as are Taft. Vory's EControl is very knowledgeable in this area, and the Principal at Clear Path in Los Angeles was integral in advising on the legal guardrails of the Counter Diversion concept. In terms of additional support, on top of the information the Counter Diversion solution can provide, we have worked with the Brand Preserve, and communicate frequently with Howell & Associates.


The point is, there are a lot of aspects to brand protection and there are some great people that are invested in helping you protect yours. On the bottom of every Counter Diversion blog post you will find our closing paragraph, "Counter Diversion is a boutique SaaS company - we don't have marketing and we don't use high-pressure sales tactics. Our goal is to have solid, honest conversations about the issues at hand and then either recommend our service or another one that is a better fit for your needs. If you'd like to engage in that type of discussion, please schedule a free consultation." There are experts in every aspect of brand protection to address every unique situation brands face, and most will point you in the right direction to solve your specific issues.


How to pull your Brand Protection solution together.


Questions every brand needs to ask when determining the resources needed to achieve their brand protection goals,

  1. What is our ideal digital marketplace position?

  2. Do we have the policies in place to achieve this position?

  3. How close are we to our ideal position?

  4. What is getting in the way of us achieving our ideal position?

  5. Are we willing to make the distribution decisions necessary to protect our brand health?

  6. Do we have the resources to solve the issues stopping us from reaching our ideal position?

  7. If not, what do we need to supplement our brand resource solution?

Think of your tracking service provider as you news source, many of them have several additional capabilities (i.e. policy enforcement communications), but at the root of what they do, and what you've hired them to do is report e-commerce listings of your products. One of the biggest mistakes that we've seen over the years is brands thinking that by hiring a tracking company it will solve or clean up their marketplace listings. Without a strategy to analyze, understand and take action on the tracked information provided by the tracking service provider, your brand protection solution will be ineffective. This is why Counter Diversion was created, and was recently referred to as the missing link in brand protection strategies.


Assuming that your brand has hired a tracking company, ask yourself, Question 8.

Do we know all of the source of product to the sellers listing our products and do we have a policy to protect our product values for every online listing? The answer to that is likely no, if it's not no and you do know the source to every listing of your products online and have the means to deliver policy violations to the source of that product, you can stop reading now. Congratulations you get a gold star. If that's not the case, we can help.


If this post resonated enough with you click on it and are still reading at this point, you are probably familiar with MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) policies. MAP policies are common and are a solid solution only after a brand has a handle on their Terms & Conditions of Sale and any other distribution policies that were set up to protect brand health. This article from October, 2023 outlines the importance of distribution policies (i.e. Terms & Conditions) being the building blocks of brand health.


This raises the question of, how do you know which policy to enforce against which listing? The answer is you have to know the source of product to the listings.



Identifiying and categorizing the source of product to the grey market drives action and insight
Identifiying and categorizing the source of product to the grey market drives action and insight

To effectively maximize sales and protect your brand, you have monitor products and correctly enforce your policies in volume. Meaning, a brand will see a faster transition to policy compliance when the majority of disruptive listings are addressed simultaneously. When this is done a brand can expect less retail partner complaints about price matching. We think this is the key to success and developed a seller centric approach that will categorize and analyze approved sellers, known accounts providing product to unauthorized 3P sellers, cross-border shipping (listings originating from outside the U.S.), listings originating with a distributor (2-step distribution), wholesale events (Amazon Prime-Day for example), Consumer resale from a companies own e-commerce site, and retail stores. This information allows brands to address each seller with the policy specific to those specific situations.


Benefits of Brand Protection Solutions.


In many of our posts we discuss the constantly changing retail landscape. These changes are challenging brand health and brand equity. Ask yourself why your sales policies were written. What was their purpose in the beginning? How effective are they now. Brand protection solutions offer tangible benefits to brands by safeguarding reputation, preventing revenue loss, ensuring legal compliance, preserving market share, enhancing customer trust, supporting brand value, and fostering innovation. By investing in comprehensive brand protection strategies, businesses can mitigate risks associated with infringement and maintain a competitive edge in today's dynamic marketplace.


  1. Safeguarding Reputation: Protecting a brand's reputation is crucial for maintaining customer trust and loyalty. Brand protection solutions help mitigate risks associated with counterfeit products, piracy, and other forms of infringement, ensuring that consumers receive genuine products and experiences. By safeguarding reputation, businesses can maintain their competitive edge and retain customers.

  2. Preventing Revenue Loss: Counterfeiting and piracy can result in significant revenue loss for businesses. Brand protection solutions help detect and prevent unauthorized use of intellectual property, thereby safeguarding revenue streams. By mitigating the impact of counterfeit products or pirated content, businesses can protect their bottom line and sustain profitability.

  3. Ensuring Legal Compliance: Intellectual property infringement can lead to legal disputes and regulatory penalties. Brand protection solutions aid in monitoring and enforcing compliance with intellectual property laws and regulations. By proactively addressing infringement issues, businesses can avoid costly legal battles and maintain compliance with relevant legislation.

  4. Preserving Market Share: Counterfeit products and pirated content can erode a brand's market share by offering cheaper alternatives to consumers. Brand protection solutions help maintain market exclusivity and consumer confidence in genuine products, thereby preserving market share. By combating counterfeiters and pirates, businesses can retain their competitive position and continue to capture market demand.

  5. Enhancing Customer Trust: Consumer trust is essential for brand success and longevity. Brand protection solutions demonstrate a commitment to quality, authenticity, and consumer welfare. By actively protecting their brands from infringement, businesses reassure customers of product authenticity and reliability, fostering trust and loyalty.

  6. Supporting Brand Value: Brands are valuable assets that contribute to business growth and sustainability. Brand protection solutions help maintain and enhance brand value by preserving brand integrity and authenticity. By safeguarding brand identity and reputation, businesses can capitalize on the intrinsic value of their brands and leverage them for strategic advantage.

  7. Fostering Innovation: Intellectual property rights encourage innovation and creativity by providing incentives for investment in research and development. Brand protection solutions contribute to a conducive environment for innovation by safeguarding intellectual property assets. By protecting intellectual property rights, businesses can continue to innovate and differentiate themselves in the marketplace.


Future Trends in Brand Protection and how to choose the right solution.


Brand protection will continue to be a chess match with the grey market. There will be new marketplaces, and the future will be dependent on the tracking providers ability track products and deliver information. How A.I. fits into the future of brand protection is up in the air, but it will likely be utilized on both sides, by the sellers and brands. How brands digest, organize and action the information they are provided will always be a big factor. As much as the market may change the fundamentals of brand protection will not.


Several of the questions we've posed in this article are the questions that brands need to ask when deciding which solution is best for their particular need.


  • What was the brand the brand trying to achieve with the existing sales policies?

  • Does the goal of the existing policies still apply to today's marketplace?

    • If so, do they completely address what the brand wants to regulate through current distribution?

      • If not, what other policies or strategies need to be created to achieve the desired results?

  • How does the brand want to enforce policies?

    • Is policy enforcement effective today?

    • If not, what are the issues?

The conversation will get more complex from there, but start with what you are trying to achieve and work backward from there. The Counter Diversion position is unique where we usually insert ourselves between the tracking company and the brand. This unique position has allowed us to collaborate with several companies and professionals in this space. It also puts us in a unique position to recommend and customize a brand protection solution for you, even if the Counter Diversion process isn't part of it.


Conclusion

I've always hated blog conclusions, but the search engines say we're supposed to have them. Brand protection is the most important investment for brands in todays world. Brands that have been built over a hundred years can be decimated in a heartbeat. At its core, brand protection ensures that consumers receive genuine products and experiences, thereby preserving trust and loyalty. By safeguarding reputation, businesses can maintain their competitive edge, retain customers, and sustain profitability.


Moreover, brand protection efforts prevent revenue loss by detecting and addressing infringement, ensuring compliance with intellectual property laws, and mitigating legal risks. Preserving market share is another critical aspect, as counterfeit products and pirated content can erode consumer confidence and undercut legitimate businesses.


Beyond financial considerations, brand protection fosters innovation by incentivizing investment in research and development through the protection of intellectual property rights. It also supports brand value by upholding brand integrity, authenticity, and consumer trust.


In essence, brand protection is indispensable for businesses seeking to thrive in today's dynamic marketplace. It is not merely about protecting assets; it is about safeguarding the essence of a brand, its reputation, and its relationship with consumers, thereby laying the foundation for sustained growth and competitiveness.



It can't hurt, we genuinely want to help you find the right solution for your unique issues and budget.


Counter Diversion is a boutique SaaS company - we don't have marketing and we don't use high-pressure sales tactics. Our goal is to have solid, honest conversations about the issues at hand and then either recommend our service or another one that is a better fit for your needs. If you'd like to engage in that type of discussion, please schedule a free consultation.





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