#HOWTOPROTECTMYBRAND

by lauraadrianagrinschgl

These days a brand needs to consider the wide range of opportunities and threats that social media, Web 2.0 and creative consumers constitute, as well as the resulting shifts of activity, value and power. Social media democratises the access to information and knowledge and transforms content consumers into content producers.[1]

SM is intensively used as a marketing tool in order to connect brands with their target audience and it appears to be the missing link in some existing business models. Initial concerns about the possibility that social networking will weaken the relationship with the consumer were unjustified; instead it encourages the customer to interact through Tweets, blogs, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Co. with the brand.[2]

Even luxury brands have dared to glance towards social media in order to substantiate customer assets through effective communication. Luxury fashion brands cannot solely rely on their strong brand symbols anymore, but need to provide values to customer in every possible way. Twitter or Facebook allows consumers to communicate with the brand in a direct way and without any restriction in place, time or medium, creating an interactive two- way communication.[3]

A recent example of how much social media has been shaking up the fashion industry is the announcement of Brooklyn Beckham as the photographer of Burberry’s new fragrance ad campaign. In this case, it was actually the astonishing number of 5.9 million Instagram followers that got Brooklyn the job, rather than experience or his famous parents.[4]

Why would Burberry make such a choice?

It is not only much cheaper, but there is also a high possibility that the customer might perceive it as more personal and authentic and it therefore can be useful in the context of a fashion house`s branding strategy. Burberry has been an early adopter of new media approaches and has been one of the first luxury fashion houses to live stream their fashion shows on the Internet. Despite heavy concerns of loosing control over the brand image, the company has now nearly 40 million followers across 20 different social media channels. [5] One of the solutions Burberry has found for itself is to maintain exclusivity through Personalisation, e.g. Art of the Trench.

Particularly from the standpoint of trade mark protection, the engagement of consumers can also have its downsides, especially if an incident of unauthorized trade mark use occurs. For example, if a Facebook URL that contains the brands mark or a Twitter account with the company name is used by a consumer. Most social networking websites already offer tools that a brand owner can make use of, in order to solve infringement problems without having to pursue the route of traditional trade mark enforcement measures, but a brand should be very careful when suing their fans, even when litigation is possible. Social Media sites often use a very broad definition of what a “trade mark violation” constitutes. Twitter[6] for example, includes in its terms that name squatting[7] is also a violation and that every account with the intention to mislead other users will be suspended. Facebook[8] takes a similar approach by providing “IP infringement forms” which allow owners of a trade mark to claim any trade mark infringements by a user of the site. Although social media sites provide certain mechanisms in order to help companies protect their brands, there will be circumstances when the company needs to take more offensive steps to secure their brand in the social media environment.[9]

 

Laura Adriana Grinschgl

 

Assistant Editor QMJIP

 

[1] P Berthon L Pitt K Plangger and D Shapiro, ‘Marketing meets Web 2.0, social media, and creative consumers: Implications for international marketing strategy’ (55/2012) Business Horizons, p. 261- 263

[2] I Mohr, ‘The Impact of Social Media on the Fashion Industry’ vol. 15 (2) 2013 Journal of Applied Business and Economics

[3] J Kim and E Ko, ‘Do social media marketing activities enhance customer equity? An empirical study of luxury fashion brand’ (65/2012) Journal of Business Research, p. 1480

[4] http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35483480

[5] http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35483480

[6] https://support.twitter.com/articles/84341

[7] I.e., when a party uses a Twitter account with the name of a third party without their permission

[8] https://www.facebook.com/legal/copyright.php

[9] http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2010/05/article_0006.html