Global trade in counterfeit brands and products is growing rapidly. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), counterfeit goods accounted for 2.5 per cent of world trade in 2013 – equivalent to 461 billion dollars. Brand manufacturers need professional brand management that is able to fight this growing challenge. In part two of our series “Brand protection by identity-based brand management” we will introduce you to this kind of brand management. Would you like to learn some basics of brand management first? In part one of our series you can find out more about the components that make up a strong brand.
Today, product and brand piracy is organised globally, with international online marketplaces in particular posing a problem. So-called grey markets, where unauthorised retailers resell branded products at rock-bottom prices, also offer an increasing threat potential for brand manufacturers due to the increasing spread of online platforms. The infringement of trademark rights is often even more difficult to combat in such cases than in clear cases of counterfeiting.
The various forms of trademark infringement pose an existential threat to brand values. As a brand manufacturer, what management processes can you introduce to counter these various risks? In 2016, in his dissertation “Identity-based trademark protection”, Carsten Keller outlined the process of effective trademark protection, which we would like to present to you here.
How to protect your brand: holistic brand management as a management tool
A brand is successful if it can reconcile the internal image of the brand with the brand perception of the consumer. A well-known example is the technology giant Apple. Apple’s self-image as a lifestyle company that combines functionality with design corresponds to the image of Apple’s customers who are willing to accept higher prices for it. Counterfeit products (counterfeits of brand performance) and counterfeit brands (counterfeits of the trademark) as well as trading in grey markets have a lasting effect on this harmony between the self-image and the external image of a brand. These tips on the management process of identity-based brand management will equip you with the right tools to protect your brand.
#1 Strategic brand management
The planning and coordination process of an identity-based brand management takes its starting point in strategic brand management. First, create an internal and external situation analysis of your own brand. Based on the identified framework conditions, you can define brand policy goals to which you can align your strategy. Brand architecture will then enable you to combine different levels of brand design. It defines hierarchical brand levels, the number of brands per brand segment and how they are positioned against the competition. Daimler AG, for example, has various car brands in the Mercedes Benz Cars division, such as Mercedes and Smart, which are characterized by different market positions. With our brand evolution strategy you can finally ensure the sustainable development of your brand.
#2 Operational brand management
Through operational brand management, strategic guidelines are translated into concrete measures using brand management tools. You can use it to create internal and external areas of responsibility and bundle your measures within them. Legal trademark protection is the final element of operational trademark management and prevents the misuse of your trademarks. Legal trademark protection measures include the filing, monitoring and enforcement of commercial property rights. For example, the shoe manufacturer Birkenstock monitored the sale of its models on Amazon’s Marketplace platform. They noticed the sales of unauthorized dealers, who probably also sold fake Birkenstock shoes. The brand manufacturer issued interim injunctions against these trademark infringements.
#3 Brand controlling
Brand controlling is responsible for providing information and advice to all departments within the company involved in trademark protection. In addition, brand controlling coordinates the various units in the company. The two functions of brand controlling are 1. brand success measurement and 2. brand reporting. While brand success measurement covers all measures of operational brand management, brand reporting classifies the recorded metrics and makes them available to other divisions. These metrics are then used as a basis for decision-making in the planning process of strategic brand management. This results in the circular character of the management process.
Holistic brand management: how to take operative action against infringements of your trademark rights
Would you like to protect yourself against product and brand piracy? Focus on keeping your brand distinguishable from the competition. In addition to internal and external measures (see illustration of the management process), you can achieve this through effective legal trademark protection. Legal trademark protection protects your trademark preventively for the future through the acquisition of trademark rights. In addition, it protects your trademark against attacks by third parties, e.g. when a competitor applies for the cancellation of a trademark right. In addition, you can take legal measures to prevent your trademark from being unlawfully registered or used by third parties, as Birkenstock did in the above grey market case. However, a legal safeguard can also specify the lawful use of your trademark by licensed third parties in the context of licensing, for example in the case of franchise concepts.
In order to effectively enforce your legal trademark protection, you as a brand manufacturer will always need an overview of which retailer sells your brand products at which price. On the one hand, this enables you to identify which retailers might be offering counterfeit products and brands. On the other hand, you can also see where non-licensed retailers are selling their branded products at dumping prices without your knowledge. With channel monitoring modules such as our blackbee solution, you can immediately identify any such threats to your brand.
Use our blackbee channel monitoring module to safeguard your brand and price image! Our experts will be happy to discuss our tailor-made solutions with you.