The internet has many advantages as well as risks for brands. As your business grows, it becomes more popular. However, the risk of data loss, plagiarism, hacking, and intellectual property theft can cause significant setbacks. Intellectual Property (IP) can be in the form of copyrights and trademarks, representing the core of a brand’s value.
Statistics from the Michigan State University states that 68% of the sample were deceived into buying counterfeit products; 39% bought them from e-retail platforms, 39% from social media of which Facebook marketplace constituted about 68%.
Therefore, businesses must properly understand the concept of brand protection. While brands strive to thrive in the digital community, notorious entities also look for opportunities to exploit them for their gain. Subsequently, they can leverage the internet to market their counterfeit products.
Therefore, this guide will explore brand protection, its significance to your business, the types of brand abuse, strategies to protect your business as well the roles of proxies.
What is Brand Protection?
Brand protection is the process by which businesses can protect their intellectual property rights by preventing illegal counterfeits from circulating. It is a form of protection that helps organizations manage their reputation.
Brand protection involves utilizing brand monitoring tools and implementing best practices to identify impersonation and brand abuse on digital platforms so they can be promptly addressed to protect the brand, its customers, and employees.
A brand protection strategy can be described as effective when it preserves the digital reputation as well as protection from various forms of malicious brand abuse.
Significance of Brand Protection
The significance of brand protection revolves around its ability to safeguard the reputation and other aspects of the business.
Some of the common benefits of brand protection include:
Protection of IP, patents, trademarks, and copyright
A significant benefit of brand protection is safeguarding intellectual property, which includes patents, copyrights, and trademarks. This protects the brand’s innovation and creations. In addition, it establishes a legal foundation for exclusive rights, preventing unauthorized use by counterfeits.
Preserving customer satisfaction
Brand protection is crucial in preserving customer satisfaction by ensuring the authenticity and quality of products and services. Subsequently, it builds customer’s trust, which can translate to loyalty. In addition, it optimizes positive customer experience, which can lead to repeat patronage and word-of-mouth recommendation – a solid form of free advertisement.
Preventing brand and reputation decay
Effective brand protection strategies can shield your business from potential threats that could destroy your brand reputation. Therefore, actively implementing brand protection strategies, including trademark infringement counterfeit products, can prevent negative brand sentiment. Subsequently, this helps businesses to maintain their reputation in the market.
Averting customer safety issues
Although the central message of brand protection in safeguarding IP, it goes beyond that- it aims to protect the safety and well-being of consumers. Counterfeit products could have significant adverse effects on consumers’ health.
Therefore, brand protection, which may involve early identification of fake products and stopping their distribution, may prevent harm as well as dissatisfaction from using such products.
Reducing marketing and ad budget
Appropriate brand protection strategies may cause a reduction in the need for an extensive ad budget. A brand may need more advertisement to build customer trust and circulate disclaimers about counterfeit products.
However, you can prevent this by actively managing and terminating any threat to your brand integrity. As a result, businesses can channel the money into their critical areas of operations like brand promotion instead of crisis management.
Increasing sales and revenue
Brand protection fosters customer trust and loyalty, which may directly lead to increased sales and revenue. People are more likely to buy again and recommend products from brands they perceive as authentic and reliable. Therefore, brand protection helps to create and maintain positive market sentiments among the public.
Increased shareholder value
Shareholders will not want to invest their funds in a company without effective brand protection strategies. Therefore, brand protection fosters shareholders’ confidence in the future of products and the performance of a product or service. Subsequently, this could lead to an increase in stock prices and shareholder value.
How Brand Protection Works
The process of brand protection is simpler in words than in practice. It often includes continuous monitoring and taking legal steps to preserve the brand’s integrity. Here is how it works:
Validation is a critical step in brand protection. You must prove that a product, expression, or name belongs to your organization. Therefore, be sure to get it registered with the appropriate authority. Subsequently, you can claim that the intellectual property has been used without your consent.
The second step in brand protection is detection. Organizations must be on the lookout for unauthorized use of their intellectual property.
While detection helps businesses identify intellectual property infringement, it does not stop there. You have to take the necessary steps, including sending a cease and desist letter, filing a complaint with law enforcement, or taking legal action. The process may be slow but don’t give up, as this will fuel those criminal individuals to continue their malicious acts.
Brand abuse must be reported to all appropriate offices to implement the necessary measures. In addition, be sure to raise awareness on your social media pages so your customers can know about the situation. If possible, provide explanatory videos to help them differentiate the original brand from the counterfeit.
Brand abuse is a general term that describes when a third party infringes on your IP for fraudulent activities. It comes in various forms, including:
This is a form of brand abuse where a product imitates a brand. The aim is to ride on the original brand’s identity to lure customers into buying it. Counterfeit products often use logos, colors, and brand themes without permission.
A study by MarqVision involving 295 brands indicated that 68% have had their products counterfeited. Countries like China have the highest number of counterfeit, pirated products. Therefore, businesses need to upgrade their brand protection strategies.
These websites are created with a malicious purpose, and they can infringe on a brand’s IP. They include:
- Cybersquatting: Deliberate registration of domain names that are similar to that of a brand
- Imitation websites: They attempt to carry themselves as the original brand by replicating the website to confuse customers
- Typosquatting: Deliberate registration of a domain name that contains a typographical version of an authentic brand. Therefore, they rely on users making mistakes while typing an address to get a visit.
You’d notice a copyright section if you have ever read a book or seen a movie. A copyright is a legal coverage over the unique works of individuals ranging from books, movies, poems, arts, scientific works, and others. An infringement can be copying someone’s book and selling it under a different title.
Trademark could be an expression, design, color, or logo distinguishing a brand from others. Trademark infringement occurs when illegal sellers trick buyers into believing the product is from the original brand. For example, LG is a household name with the phrase “Life’s good.” Trademark infringement can happen when another brand uses this phrase to hasten the sales of its goods.
Subsequently, this breach in brand protection could lead to an increasingly bad reputation. In more severe cases, customers may boycott such products because they cannot distinguish the original from the fake.
Social media impersonation
Social media impersonation is another breach of brand protection. Developing an impressive social media account and establishing communication with followers takes time. Some third parties may then create a social media account with a similar name to an authentic brand, which may mislead customers.
Brand Protection Strategies
Regardless of the size of your business, implementing the right brand protection strategies is critical for survival. Here are some strategies that can protect your brand reputation while optimizing customer satisfaction:
This strategy involves primary brand protection technique to prevent the effects of brand abuse. You may not have noticed any form of brand abuse at this stage, but you need to stay safe, so you want to start your brand protection efforts early.
Here are the steps to follow in this primary stage:
The first step in brand protection is registering your brand name and logos as trademarks. In addition, you can take it a step further by protecting every product with design and utility patents. Although it may be expensive, this may be one of the best investments in brand protection.
A common mistake that businesses make is they assume they only need coverage for locations where they will sell the products. Since people from other locations can see the products, we recommend the trademark covering regions with higher rates of counterfeit products. This step becomes useful when expanding your market to major ecommerce platforms.
Another legal step in brand protection is ensuring partners and contractors sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). This is because working with individuals without a legal agreement to protect your brand can lead to avoidable risks.
Collecting data is a form of gathering evidence, which is a way to prove a third party is using your trademark without permission. Without this evidence, you cannot prove any form of brand abuse. Evidence can be in the form of photos, videos, comments, links to infringing listings, seller details, and others.
Gathering data from various sources is a critical step in brand protection. Manually searching and collating business intelligence can be quite daunting. Fortunately, businesses can leverage auto web scrapers and SERP scraping API, among other tools, to facilitate the process of web data extraction. This process can provide insights into copyright infringement, trademark infringement, counterfeit products, and customer feedback that may point to the purchase of fake products.
Once you have gathered enough evidence, the next step is to take action. Before moving forward, you need to study the steps for reporting brand infringement on various platforms. Also, you need to determine the type of infringement you want to report, as the required evidence may differ.
After sending a takedown request, check for status updates daily so you can quickly respond to any counter-notices.
As you invest in your brand to make it stand out, many counterfeiters are looking for ways to live off your efforts. Once you notice counterfeits on various platforms, you may need to take further steps to ensure brand protection.
Since infringement can happen on multiple channels, it is important to monitor them. Many fake items are sold on the marketplace and social media instead of e-commerce platforms. Therefore, you may need to hire a company that offers multinational brand protection services.
In this digital era, you cannot afford to rely solely on traditional monitoring tools. Therefore, you need to utilize available technology for brand protection. Technological solutions allow the team to do more complicated things efficiently. However, it does not eliminate the need for a legal or brand protection team.
When choosing a technological solution, the company should have industry expertise. In addition, look out for brand protection services with auto-learn and reporting features. The reach and efficiency of the solution to brand protection must also be considered.
Educate your customers
Do not be shy about sharing your concerns with customers. This makes them understand you are invested in protecting their interest. Provide educational videos and posts to help them understand what makes your product stand out, especially with color, packaging, and certification.
In addition, encourage them to report any suspected counterfeit products they may have encountered.
Offline and online brand protection
Offline brand protection measures may be slow, but still important. Therefore, it is critical to integrate offline and online strategies for optimized brand protection efforts. Some counterfeit products are carefully created to avoid bots that may be searching for certain characteristics. For example, they may overlay product images with texts. However, using Optical Character Recognition software can detect this counterfeit activity.
Other measures to ensure brand protection include:
Social media monitoring
Social media is mainstream for advertising and communicating with customers. It allows brands to build rapport that helps foster customer loyalty. However, since various parody accounts exist, customers may easily fall prey to counterfeit products. Therefore, businesses may need to collect data from various social media platforms and organize, analyze, and interpret it for informed decision-making.
Customer sentiment analysis is often possible by scraping reviews from the internet about products and services. Subsequently, organizations can find out if there is a brand with similar names and use their packaging theme. Therefore, brands must pay close attention to social media accounts and infringement activities.
Partnership and supply chain monitoring
Businesses can keep a watchful eye on their partners and supply chains, including distributors and sellers, to identify brand abuse. Some bad distributors may redirect authentic products from the supply chain to sell in the gray market and other infringement activities. Therefore, organizations, especially those that ship their products to various parts of the world, need to leverage distributors, sellers, and partners to identify a possible threat to brand reputation.
Challenges of Brand Protection
The primary way for efficient brand protection is web scraping. Gathering data from multiple websites simultaneously may seem like a nightmare for those who do not understand how to automate it. You can use programming languages to write a script that collects data from the web at scheduled intervals. However, this is only half the solution. Here are other notable challenges associated with brand protection:
Adaptability and scalability
Collecting, sorting, analyzing, and interpreting data required for brand protection means you must go through more than a few websites daily. You may need to crawl multiple websites in numerous locations.
While you are working hard in brand protection, infringers are also working hard to bypass these measures. Therefore, effective brand protection requires adaptability and scalability to identify new threats and address them promptly.
IP infringement can happen anywhere in the world as these notorious individuals can operate from anywhere. They could also use VPN services to mask their location to hide their digital fingerprint. This may become a challenge when you need to access the data due to differences in location.
The inability to access geo-restricted content may hinder your brand protection strategies. Subsequently, some websites may ban you from accessing them, especially if your IP address is from a forbidden location.
Large amount of data
Furthermore, brand protection is an extensive process that requires a large amount of data. Organizing and interpreting such a large amount can be like climbing Mt Everest with no oxygen- you are sure to run out of air.
Subsequently, gathering, storing, and analyzing large amounts of data can be a significant challenge for businesses.
The Roles of Proxy Servers in Brand Protection
Web scraping has many applications, including SEO monitoring, competitive analysis, and brand monitoring. Although using web scrapers automates the process of web data extraction, you can experience IP bans. Therefore, it is not surprising that many organizations are leaning towards proxies.
A proxy is a server that acts as a middleman between your device and the internet. Its operations are quite similar to how a post office works- they receive your package and send it to the receiver. Similarly, the proxy server receives the request from your device and sends it to the webpage; it also receives the response and transmits it to your computer.
You can use proxies to detect if a third party is misusing your brand information. The proxy server does this by monitoring your domain names and trademarks across various locations on the internet.
Here are some ways that proxies can help in brand protection:
Privacy and security
NetNut proxy servers can optimize privacy and security for seamless brand protection activities. The proxies mask your original IP address so that hackers and counterfeiters cannot trace your activities.
In addition, proxy servers provide excellent protection from possible threats as you engage with customers via emails, social media, and other platforms.
Access geo-restricted content
Have you ever tried to access a website, and it keeps saying error? You even check your internet connection and the signal strength and try to reload the page but to no avail. There is a high possibility that the content on the website is restricted to your location.
Proxies can mask your computer’s real IP address so that the website thinks you are connecting it from an acceptable location. This is very helpful as it helps to check if another company is stealing your intellectual property in another region.
Monitor brand reputation
A critical aspect of brand protection is monitoring the reputation. You can use proxies to check the internet across various locations to discover what customers are saying about your brand. This is especially useful when your company wants to launch a new product. Getting this unbiased feedback can help you incorporate changes that will improve customer satisfaction.
In addition, you can monitor consumer sentiment regarding competitors. This helps you identify the areas where they are doing well, their lapses, and how you can make your product better for the customers.
When you use proxies to collect data from websites, you can identify if your brand is counterfeit in a certain region. An increasing number of negative reviews is a sign that something is not right. It could mean another company is using your logo or impersonating your brand. Subsequently, counterfeit products are often of lower quality, which could trigger an increase in negative reviews.
Optimize loading speeds
The use of proxies can optimize loading speeds. For example, if you are trying to access a website that is not available in your location, the page may keep loading for several minutes. This is quite frustrating as you go on to try various solutions to no avail.
However, immediately after you use a proxy server with another location, the same website loads in less than 5 seconds. In addition, using proxies can improve loading speed by caching content from the websites. This feature is relevant when you are on the hunt for those who are using your brand’s intellectual property without permission.
The Best Proxy Server for Brand Protection
The first step in using a proxy for brand protection is selecting a reputable provider like NetNut. We have an extensive network of over 52 million rotating residential proxies in over 200 countries and over 250,000 mobile IPs in over 100 countries, which helps them provide exceptional data collection services.
To optimize brand protection efforts, it is essential to rotate your proxies to avoid IP blocks. Using one proxy address frequently can be detected by the website. Therefore, using NetNut rotating residential proxies can help you stay anonymous and avoid being blocked. These proxies ensure you get a new IP address every time you visit a website, which makes it extremely difficult for others to track your activities.
In addition, you can use NetNut data center proxies for immediate threats. They are often faster, which makes them an ideal option for responding to threats as soon as you identify them. Doing this ensures you can quickly report the infringement activity and catch the criminals.
You can always rely on NetNut Proxies for brand protection whether you want to scrape data from websites, monitor social media sentiments, or use technology.
This guide has examined brand protection, its significance, and how a brand can be abused. The use of proxy services is critical for brand protection. Proxies protect your identity, allow you to access restricted websites, and safeguard your digital footprint.
Brand protection requires integrating various offline and online strategies for a wholesome and proactive approach. In addition, data extraction is a critical aspect of brand protection as it allows you to gather evidence required to take legal actions.
Contact us today if you have any problems regarding using proxy servers for brand protection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does using proxies for brand protection affect a website’s SEO?
While brand protection is critical, you must not neglect your website’s SEO. The performance of proxy servers has a direct impact on SEO. This is because it can affect website loading speed and overall performance. However, remember that proxies optimize your website security, as IP rotation can prevent DDoS attacks and other malicious actions.
Subsequently, you must find a balance between using proxies for brand protection and maintaining website SEO by routinely checking proxy usage and its impact on SEO.
Can the use of proxy servers affect website loading speed?
Yes, the use of proxy servers can affect website loading speed. However, this depends on the reliability and performance of the proxy server. Therefore, it is critical to consider speed and scalability when selecting a proxy server.
Using high-performance proxies from reliable providers like NetNut ensures your website will load fast to prevent poor user experience. In addition, the proxy server should guarantee uptime and minimize downtime so that the website is always accessible to users. Therefore, selecting a reliable, high-performance proxy service aids brand protection without compromising website loading speed.
What are some factors to consider before selecting a proxy server for brand protection?
- Type of proxy- determine if you need residential, private, free, or rotating proxies
- Speed of the proxy
- Ease of integration with browsers
- Value for money- you should be getting value for the money you are paying to use a proxy service
- Level of security
- Proxy server provider reputation