Who should ultimately be responsible for managing and maintaining online brand protection? If you asked this question to 100 senior business individuals, it’s likely they would point their fingers towards brand communication teams, marketing departments and those within legal and IT. These would be perfectly reasonable answers, as they are the departments most directly involved in promoting brand communications and developing a strong online reputation.
However, these answers would only be half-correct. While these departments all have some responsibility to bear, it is also important that members of the board are fully invested in all online brand protection efforts.
As the number of online channels used by brands continues to increase over time, and maliciously-minded individuals find new ways to exploit each one for their own gain, creating and upholding a strong online brand protection strategy has never been so important. However, the only way to ensure all this hard work pays off is to get buy-in from all areas of the business, and this includes the boardroom. Only through a unified approach can brands guarantee effective results.
To further understand why online brand protection is a necessity for all brands, you needn’t look any further than the potential consequences of not taking the issue seriously. Let’s say, for example, that your brand has not yet implemented an online brand protection strategy, and so it is has failed to realise that there is an individual operating a Twitter account using your brand’s name and logo, and it’s being used to sell counterfeit goods to the public. Of course, it’s not hard for you to realise this is a fake account that’s duping consumers with illegitimate goods, but the consumers themselves are often none the wiser. If the Twitter account looks like the real deal, how else are consumers meant to realise they’ve been fooled?
Of course, this scenario can result in significant financial loss for the genuine brand, but the more significant impact is often reputational. Consumers do not forget once they have fallen into the counterfeit trap, and when it comes to deciding who is at fault, they certainly aren’t going to blame themselves. If it isn’t crystal-clear to consumers that your brand is taking online protection seriously, shoppers will likely choose to steer clear in the future, favouring competitors instead. This could also lead to a damaging snowballing effect, with the initial consumer then urging friends and family not to trust your brand, who then tell their friends and family and so forth.
So, to summarise: online brand protection demands attention from even the most senior of positions inside a company. What’s more, it is the responsibility of board members to ensure that, once a strategy has been identified, it is being followed correctly by all other areas of the business. If the legal department is approaching fake online marketplace listings differently to the head of brand communications, for example, you will only be going backwards. The consequences of counterfeiting online are simply too severe not to be considered by the entire boardroom.