Want to learn more?

Branding and Reputation Management

A distribution plan will help your customers know where to shop And help them avoid buying counterfeits A distribution plan will help your customers know where to shop And help them avoid buying counterfeits
Most marketing departments focus all their attention on talking about their product with consumers. They hopefully make the product irresistible to consumers. That’s their job. The job of the brand protection department is to help consumers avoid buying counterfeits which can damage their brand and reduce sales. It’s not often that the two groups are aligned. There is a place, however, where the two objectives can align and that’s when you’re talking to consumers about where to shop. The Marketing focus is to drive sales by creating many channels of distribution and the Brand Protection focus is to insure that those channels are not corrupted by counterfeit sellers and rogue websites. As we know, consumers are not depending on the Internet for their shopping needs. The Internet provides not only convenience, but selection, variety, and most importantly better prices. If you don’t talk to your consumers about where to shop, you run the risk that they’ll discover a counterfeit site that you don’t want them to. So how does Marketing and Brand Protection work together to protect their company, customers and products from counterfeiters? They do it by working together on creating a planned global distribution plan that includes the Internet. If you have brick and mortar sellers, you should define who and where those sellers should be. Don’t let a distributor define your channels of distribution. Clear points of sale make it easy for you to communicate, “authorized dealers” to your customers. Advertise those authorized dealers on your website and in advertisements. This not only pleases your retailers but also directs customers to shop where authentic products are sold. You should further insure the integrity of this channel by creating retailer agreements that define your distribution and marketing policy and prohibit transshipping. It should also clarify whether the retailer is authorized to sell on the Internet. For online retailers, the same rules apply. A retailer agreement can define the levels of service, customer care, and returns policy that would be expected by your customers for your brand and product. The agreement can also define your distribution policy regarding transshipping and shipping into other geographical locations. Remember, counterfeiters can use loose products to their advantage. If you use distributors, they should also be required to adhere to your distribution policy no mater where they are located. Once you have put your distribution controls in place, it is easy to then inform to your customers, exactly where they can shop and be confident that the products will be authentic. Of course, to maintain the integrity of this plan and to insure that your retailers and distributors are respecting your guidelines, you must monitor where your brand is being sold. Online brand protection is a key element in ensuring the integrity of your distribution policy.
Social Media’s More Sinister Turn Social Media’s More Sinister Turn

Social Media is becoming more of a factor in the brand protection scheme of things. Once an arena where your brand can become damaged by disgruntled consumers venting on your brand's page and your open mishandling of the situation, Social Media is becoming more of a scammer's haven for causing damage.

2015 was the year that brand attackers began to target social media and important trends began to emerge that will prove to be a dominant issue in the context of security and management this year.

Support Agent Impersonation

Fraudsters, hackers and scammers will use  phony customer service accounts for phishing the credential of customers, stealing their personal information which would allow them to compromise a brand's reputation. Phishing banking credentials is just the start when it boils own to fraudulent accounts.

Over the past year or so, researchers have been able to identify thousands of phony social media profiles which support the distribution of malware, the sale of counterfeit products, and more. In 2016, brands should expect the threats to advance and spread, targeting business customers in a vast array of verticals that utilize customer accounts, whether it is to deepen loyalty with customers or providing other services.

Social Shaming

Public shaming which is driven by mobs of Internet users aimed to harass companies has become increasingly popular. Some observers have likened this phenomenon to online lynching, where the social media platform of choice has been Twitter. Brand and organizations of all sizes are challenged with combating this new form of aggressive social media harassment. What it comes down to is social mobs protesting a position or action that a brand or individual has taken.

In addition to Twitter, these types of attacks are broadcast across the social media spectrum, from Facebook to LinkedIn and even Instagram. The outcome of such social lynching can be as many as 20,000 plus negative posts on social media. Most of the time, this is as simple as copying, pasting and posting the comments of a central figure. This year I see these attacks growing in social media, where these mobs attack individuals and companies, whether it be be for a cause or to steal financial data or other personal info.

This is a dire risk for brands and other organizations as it is aggressive and conducted by literally thousands of individuals looking to cause damage to their targets. It is not all dark, as social media' strength is its weakness as well. When attackers have the ability to reach an infinite number of potential targets using a solitary Social Media profile, it makes it much easier to catch the culprit. This can be done by using a customized tool designed to catch such attackers and should be a part of any compliance and security solution. Countering these threats should include a strategy that will detect impersonation of support accounts, the ability to manage conversations, and verifying accounts.

More so, a system must be in place that detects potential infractions round the clock, identifying not only threats but the severity of threats and returning it to the brand in a visual manner. From a more organic perspective, the best defense against social mobbing is building up your reputation by such tactics as amassing as much social trust as possible. This could be done in a number of ways such as amassing reviews and establishing your brand as a trusted authority. This will not only increase your brand's reputation but it will lessen the impact of shaming and minimize any damage.

Brand Churn and Burn Brand Churn and Burn

A brand's churn rate refers to the measurement of customer attrition, meaning those customers who stop using a particular brand or service over a period of time. To arrive at the churn rate you need to take the numbers of those discontinuing over that period and divide it over the average number of total customers during that period. One good example of an industry with a high churn rate would be in the telecom industry where cell phone carriers compete, undercutting each other constantly, while offering new customers easy ways to switch from their current carrier to theirs.

In a highly relevant example, counterfeiting can burn a brand over a short period of time. As a company builds followers, at the same time there are the silent cyber thieves that latch on to your marketing efforts and divert traffic from your brand, among other things. As your brand's true followers are navigated to other sites via traffic theft, violating PPC ads and the like, they burn legitimate brands by affecting their reputation and damaging their loyalty by selling unsuspecting consumers, fake goods online.

Churning for Feedback

When a business takes a look at their churn rate, it provides them with feedback, on anything from marketing efforts to specific segments, changes in pricing and even a decrease in their products being counterfeited. Most importantly it provides a company on the average time period that a person remains their customer. This is a highly valuable business metric and many companies implement predictive modeling to assess churn rates based on their actions.

The idea for all brand marketers is to bring them in and to retain them. Creating an environment where brand loyalty thrives is key to bringing them in and not letting them go. Criminal activities such as counterfeiting do much damage to a company's objective of retaining customers.

In industries such as fashion, where a Louis Vuitton bag sells for half the price on an impeccably designed website, the churn rate rides high. Of course, Louis Vuitton is a large global company, so the impact might not be felt right away, but at smaller brands, counterfeiting will negatively impact the churn rate, and if something is not done to reduce it, will burn whatever product is being counterfeited. In many cases, the churn rate is steady, until the number of people entering the revolving brand door is a trickle compared to how many are leaving.

Low VS. High Churn

For brands, the ideal situation would be to create an environment where there is a low rate of churn, in an area strife with counterfeiting such as high fashion. Brands out there that experience high churn rates continually bleed customers while gaining new ones. In this case, marketers of those brands should base their advertising strategy on the fact that their customer base is not stable and is vulnerable to jumping ship. This way the goal of their advertising efforts is to replace the customers they are losing, and devising ways to keep them.

If you are marketing a brand that has a low churn rate, you have a mostly loyal customer base and should devise ways to keep them and strengthen the bond between the brand and customers, to keep them from switching to a competitor.

A number of brand categories are segmented into high or low churn rate boxes. Products that have little distinction among their competitors typically experience high churn rates. In these cases, customers are not connected to any particular brands, and the challenge weighs heavily on the brand to foster customer loyalty.

In contrast, brands face challenges in swaying consumers to switch to their brand when they are loyal to a competitor and/or when the cost to switch is high.

Taking a look at it from a financial perspective, brands that experience low churn typically spend more to acquire new users, but the overall LTV (Life Time Value) of those new customers will be well worth it. For brands that experience high churn, such as those hit hard by counterfeiters, they can attract new customers with low budgets, but the LTV remains low.

Is the indsutry you are in a high churn or a low churn one? What do you do to keep things flowing?

5 Branding Techniques for your Business Online 5 Branding Techniques for your Business Online
With online business booming for some time now, and mobile commerce coming up fast, now is the time to put some more effort into branding your business online. Companies who rely on their website to bring them business in the form of leads for example, must dedicate time and effort for this task. (more…)
Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) – a Must for Brands Search Engine Reputation Management (SERM) – a Must for Brands
As powerful as it is to get your brand or product on Google’s first search result page, the process of monitoring search results that are tied to your product, brand and the keywords associated with them are just as important, in some cases even more. (more…)
Online Reputation Protection for Business Owners Online Reputation Protection for Business Owners
In today's digital age, your personal online reputation matters more than anything. Personal reputation management for some can be handled independently but there a growing number of firms that claim they can make your personal online reputation shine and keep it shining. (more…)
7 Ways to Manage your Online Reputation 7 Ways to Manage your Online Reputation
Online Brand Reputation Management or ORM as it is known is the practice of highlighting a brand's success in search results and essentially burying any negative news in the latter pages (Page 2 and beyond). The growth in the market of online reputation management companies is testament to the fact that more and more companies are looking to ORM to managing an online reputation. (more…)
How to Brand a Small Business : 5 Things you Should Know How to Brand a Small Business : 5 Things you Should Know
It's just as important to brand your small business as it is for the big ones. For some time now, larger corporate brands have been looking at smaller successful brands to study how they appeal to customers. (more…)
The Complexities of Managing a Digital Brand Portfolio The Complexities of Managing a Digital Brand Portfolio

Nowadays, brands, corporations and service organizations all do business on the web in some fashion. It is not only Internet businesses. In order to engage a customer base, internal and external vendors, employees and the like,online entities must employ a solid digital presence. More so, they must employ safeguards for the protection of such digital assets. Otherwise, they risk putting all they have worked for, including reputation and the ability to prosper. (more…)