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Top considerations for implementing brand protection strategies...
main image Ron Romanik, Contributing Editor
Many brand owners are afraid of the perceived high cost of brand protection. Those same brand owners likely pay high insurance premiums on their factories and businesses. The "brand insurance" that brand protection can provide is a minor investment considering the potential loss to brand reputation and the bottom line in the event that consumers lose trust in the product on the shelf.

Getting started on a brand protection path is made even more daunting because of the many tactics and technologies that have proliferated in the past decade. Brand owners have seen many come and go, yet they are still expecting a magic bullet that will solve all their brand protection needs. This will likely never come, so a layered strategy combining several technologies is advisable. To help you choose the best tactics, here are the key factors to consider.

1. Understand the problem. First, step back and understand your brand's particular situation in its entirety. What are the threats? Is there counterfeiting, diversion, gray market threats, or all of the above? What investment would alleviate or help alleviate the problem? What other gains or ROI could you gain from a brand protection program?

2. Know that every situation is different. A strategy will only be effective if you understand the problem—and the mindset of the perpetrators—first. The best place to start is with the imagined, or real, criminals. What are their motivations? What are the opportunities they perceive? What are they hoping to accomplish? What lengths must they go through to achieve their goals? How easily can they be put off their goals?

3. Be aware of intellectual property rights. Try to quantify the value of the loss to your company in IP terms alone. And know exactly what elements of your brand you "own" both legally and in consumers' minds. Copycat brands in foreign markets might not be counterfeiting in the strictest sense, but they can still do great damage to the brand reputation just by association.
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