Protecting Your Brand
“Your brand is an asset and you need to protect it”. Although this piece of advice is frequently heard, how often do executives actually pause to think if this piece of advice is truly helpful in terms of growing their brand? In this post, we explore how to protect your brand.
A brand is without a doubt, an asset. However, the common perception of the term “asset” is a risk adverse one, where additional security is needed to protect it. An example would be like keeping gold bars at home, where owners simply hold on to it and protect it. Because of that, a brand owner and their teams are often caught in a surveillance mentality – handling of the brand will lean towards establishing guideline violations internally and engaging legal channels on IP infringement externally.
While those may be logical steps to take, protecting a brand through legal means are considered to be defensive, reactive and costly. A brand can only be effectively protected when a product has the ability to prevent a loss of sales from counterfeiting. On top of that, if a brand also has consumer engagement set up, it is set up to reap even more financial benefits.
Although it may sound complicated, preventing a loss of revenue and gaining business advantages from competitors and counterfeiters is not rocket science. To do so, we need to know and work on the following 5 key tips:
Product Your Brand with Product Authentication
Product authentication refers to incorporating simple visual features onto your product or packaging to allow consumers to verify that they are buying a genuine product. Clear specific instructions are required to be given to consumers on what to look out for.
A product’s assurance of authenticity is the much-needed confidence that consumers need, especially in today’s world, where fake products and fake news is everywhere. The reason why this is important to brands is because people are more likely to buy from those they trust.
Product authentication also helps in terms of brand identity. It shows consumers what your brand stands for. When businesses care for their consumers and want to ensure that they are purchasing the real deal, they will invest in product authentication.
Perception is reality, and a positive image helps the brand in the long run.
Product Your Brand by Engaging Consumers
Here is a different perspective to protect your brand. According to a survey done by Brandpackaging.com, more than 50% of shoppers say that bright attractive colours draw their attention to a product. In addition to that, 60% of shoppers say that they are unlikely to buy a product when the label doesn’t provide enough information. Based on the survey, two useful insights can be observed:
(1) Nice packaging does indeed attract customers to products.
(2) Enough information must be provided for consumers to make a buying decision.
For consumer engagement, the product information must minimally be provided. Currently, when consumers scan most QR codes on a product packaging, it is likely that they will be brought to a landing page or a company website. This is hardly useful for consumers. What they would like to see instead would be information, details, and applications of the specific product that they would like to purchase. Alternatively, information about complimentary matching items will also be welcome.
For example, let us imagine that a consumer would like to buy a bag in a store. When he or she scans the QR code, besides the basic information about the product itself, there can be additional highlights of a matching wallet design available as a special purchase. By clicking a link in that QR code, the special purchase can be done immediately with the purchase of the bag and delivery of the wallet can be sent directly to the consumers home.
This consumer engagement provides the company opportunities to upsell more products and keep customers coming. In today’s modern world, consumers want to be engaged on their terms, and that helps to create communities of participation around the brand.
Protect Your Brand with Supply Chain Visibility
The ability to track distribution channels and maintain supply chain visibility is what many executives are keen to have. Having the insights on the following greatly empowers companies to resolve grey market sales and illicit trade issues along the distribution channels:
- Where are the products shipped?
- Which locations are the products sold?
- Are any products sold outside the distribution channels?
Having supply chain visibility allows for an audit trail that can determine what products were sold by which distributors into what countries. For instance, if a brand has products exclusively for sale in the Philippines but was found to be sold in Japan, there is a large possibility that someone is re-exporting the goods from Philippines for sale Japan. This can occur due to pricing strategies for different markets. In developed markets like Japan, products can be sold to consumers at a higher price compared to the Philippines.
The price gap provides incentive to re-export into Japan to compete with authorized distributors there. These re-exported goods will cause a loss of revenue to the Japan distributor and in turn, to the brand owner. If the brand owner is unable to track their distribution channels, it will be hard for them to tackle any issues of illicit trade that is affecting their brand.
Incentivised Long-Term Customers for Your Brand (Customer Loyalty Programme)
Customer loyalty programs are not new – when consumers purchase a product, they are often asked to sign up as a member. Subsequently, they will start to receive emails, WhatsApp messages or SMS notifications when there are new product launches. As a member, consumers are entitled to purchase these new items at a discounted price. However, it is noted that these kinds of loyalty programs commonly lack elements of gamification and incentives.
Gamification allows for interaction between the brand, consumer and the purchased product. For example, in a campaign, Manchester United (MU) invited consumers who purchased their merchandise to register the product. This was to allow for product authentication to verify that the product purchased was genuine. As a way to thank consumers for their support, after registration, consumers stood a chance to win a signed MU shirt each month.
Source: OpSec Security
Implementing it this way makes it feel like a game of sorts – the more consumers bought, the more they had a chance to win a signed MU shirt each month as a prize. The campaign helps to create an ecosystem, and a sense of belonging and identity in getting the product. Loyalty programs with gamification helps in attracting consumers and also helps to make them constantly return.
Another good customer loyalty program with an incentive would be Abbotts program. They had a QR code on their product packaging, and consumers were encouraged to scan the QR code to authenticate the milk powder that they have purchased. On top of authentication, after scanning, consumers can also register as members where they can earn points to redeem rewards. This incentive helps to lock in consumers for the long haul as they will want to go back to purchase more milk powder of the same brand to accumulate points for rewards.
In China, there are even some companies that reward consumers for their support by giving WeChat Red Packets (monetary rewards).
Good customer loyalty programs are essential to protect brands. As consumers are rewarded for authenticating their product purchase, they will actively aim to purchase from the brand repeatedly. This brand loyalty will help brand owners to gain recurring revenue and strengthen their brands position in their consumers’ minds.
Gather Data on Performance (Trend Analysis)
Data trend analysis provides insights on products for brand owners. An example would be data revealing which product was the best-selling one. With such information, brand owners can better allocate resources to support and cater to their best-selling products to ensure that they continue selling well and are free from counterfeiting. On top of that, when the supply chain of brands is disrupted or when new consumer trends are observed, brand owners are able to have insights to act upon. These insights help brands to become more agile.
Insights on product trends related to locations can also be analyzed. Through these insights, brand owners are able to know their areas of growth in terms of which countries are performing the best. This helps vastly in marketing efforts – more resources can be allocated to the right countries to further drive the business forward. Furthermore, brand owners can also review the strategies executed in underperforming locations. The insights gleaned from the data gathering will also be able to justify whether is there a need to exit the under-performing locations and focus on other areas to achieve better ROI.
In conclusion, the execution of the 5 tips discussed above allows you to protect your brand to prevent losses in revenue due to counterfeiters and competitors. Companies can truly only protect their brand effectively when they have the ability to engage consumers, track distribution channels and gather product insights.