Brand Protection Software: 4 Key Considerations

What is Brand Protection Software?

Brand protection software manages online information about a company's products and services, analyzing product and price details to ensure it is accurate and meets company standards. Companies affiliated with resellers use brand protection software to manage product and brand information on partner websites. Product managers use these systems to monitor activity by dealers, identify violations, and enforce brand rules and policies.

Why is Brand Protection Important?

Product counterfeiting and other unfair practices by third parties can affect your business in many ways. It can damage your brand and reputation. It can also threaten the safety of your customers. Protecting your brand not only prevents these issues, but also helps you comply with new government regulations in certain industries.

There are regulations in several countries that force manufacturers to adopt anti-counterfeiting solutions in their products. For affected businesses, failure to do so results in legal action and fines, impacts public opinion, and can drive down stock prices. In some industries, for example medical devices and safety equipment, counterfeit products may pose a threat to the safety and health of consumers.

When a consumer unknowingly purchases a counterfeit product and is disappointed with the purchase, they will blame the manufacturer. Consumers may be hesitant to purchase other products from this manufacturer if they do not realize the product is counterfeit. Ultimately, they pass on their disappointment with the brand to other potential consumers. In the long run, this will damage the company's reputation. Publicly announcing that a brand protection strategy is in place, even if the details are kept secret, can increase trust among prospective customers.

How Does Brand Protection Work?

Brand protection solutions typically use four strategies to protect customers: detection, verification, enforcement, and reporting. By adopting this approach, the brand protection process is structured, and illegal activities are easier to control.

Brand protection solutions typically use this process:

  1. Detection — finding violations both online and offline. Brand protection software systematically searches for illegal operators trying to sell counterfeit parts under brand names, and identifies factories trying to duplicate their products.

  2. Validation — determining whether the alleged violation is really an infringement of the company's intellectual property rights. This part of the process avoids accidental penalties for legitimate companies and individuals, which can also damage your reputation.

  3. Execution — brand protection services take steps to proactively prevent intellectual property infringement. Actions may include closure of violating factories, removal of product listings from e-Commerce stores, and proactive blocking of future shipments of products.

  4. Reporting — the analytics generated by the brand protection solution can be used to determine a brand's vulnerability and provide practical guidance on how to improve the brand's resilience.

Brand Protection Detection Techniques

Here are three techniques used by brand protection solutions to detect counterfeiting activity:

  • Keyword monitoring — counterfeit products sold on e-Commerce platforms typically use specific keywords (such as the brand name) to advertise the product. Brand protection services use bots to continuously search high-risk websites for listings and other content containing these keywords. This step is important because counterfeiters are constantly updating and changing the keywords used to sell counterfeit goods on their online marketplace listings.

  • Image recognition — image recognition is software that quickly and automatically analyzes images online. Image recognition techniques vary in complexity. The simplest technique is identical image recognition, where you can search for and find images that were taken as-is from a manufacturer’s website. The most complex technique is object recognition, which makes it possible to find physical objects in photos, regardless of where they are in the image. This makes it possible to identify counterfeiters who created their own footage of a manufacturer’s product.

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) — AI/ML algorithms iteratively identify patterns and correlations in data to generate accurate and reliable search parameters. As these new parameters are created, keyword monitoring and image recognition programs can work more efficiently and continue to improve.

Key Considerations When Choosing Brand Protection Solutions

Size of the Problem

Before selecting a brand protection solution, understand the scale of counterfeiting activity. Is there only one case of counterfeiting, or multiple operators acting against your brand on a global scale? Select a brand protection service and service level that matches the current scale of the problem.

Search Capabilities

Digital technology is creating new opportunities for counterfeiters, from counterfeit products sold on social media to general-purpose search engines like Google, specialized search engines that direct consumers to counterfeit websites, and online retailers like Amazon and eBay. Counterfeit products are also sold on mobile apps like WhatsApp. This means counterfeiting operators have multiple channels to divert traffic from branded websites, reducing an organization’s control over its trademarks and products.

Discovery capabilities are an important part of a digital protection service. Businesses need to address multiple breaches in parallel and continuously monitor their brands. Traditionally, brand protection was performed by law firms and relied primarily on human searching, but this is no longer viable in the complex digital economy. In today’s environment, it is important to select a solution that has robust automated search capabilities across all relevant digital channels.

Reporting

Reports are possibly the most important element in a brand protection solution, because they are evidence of the work being done. A good system should do more than just detect violations. It should be able to report in detail and highlight specific risk sites and geographic areas. Preferably, it should provide real-time data, giving in-house teams insights about breaches as they happen.

Most brand protection services provide a visual web dashboard to report on their activity. Ensure the software that is easy to work with and easy to understand to save time and training costs.

Industry Expertise

A good brand protection service involves some human analysis alongside AI/ML automation. No matter how sophisticated an automated search technology, it is no substitute for a human expert with years of industry experience. Expert analysts can guide automated searches and discover new trends. These experts can also provide support on automated systems, and assist with legal measures, such as the process of removing fake websites.