Brandjacking

According to a recent article, the brand protection service MarkMonitor has recently released a new report on the instances of brandjacking online. This report states that brandjacking takes 28% of all branded search terms online. What does that mean? When a user searches for a specifically branded product, say Lacoste shirts, 28% of the results are actually from other companies making fake Lacoste products.  The most frequent instances of this, called brandjacking, occurred in the luxury brands industry and the sports apparel industry.

Why is this a problem? Well, to begin, brandjacking pertains to anything that uses the likeness of a brand, company, or even person for personal gain. So this means that someone else could be using your company’s logo to make a profit for themselves (like the Lacoste shirt example). Essentially your company is losing profits because your customers are buying fake products from someone else.

However, brandjacking doesn’t stop just with fake products. Cypersquatting, or purchasing domain names similar to brand’s real web addresses to either sell false products or to gain revenue in pay-per-click advertising, is still on the rise. It is important to note that cybersquatting doesn’t just happen to well-known companies; it can happen to anyone. A recent example from Pittsburgh shows that cypersquatting can even occur in the service industry – a plumber was using his competitor’s domain name to direct traffic to his own website. The plumber was eventually found guilty in court and forced to pay up to $100,000 in damages to his competitor.

Phishing is yet another form of brandjacking. These are online email scams made to look like legitimate companies such as Mastercard or Visa in an effort to gain your personal information such as credit card numbers. Phishing is generally referred to as identity theft, however, it is also a form of brandjacking because the phishers use the guise of a legitimate company to create falsely branded emails and websites. Consumers can easily fall for the scam without careful criticism of the website or email. According to an article in PR Newswire, both companies and customers should be on the lookout for phishing scams. The article points out that banks, credit card companies, and other businesses would never send requests for account numbers, logins, or passwords through email and would only request such information on their secure websites.

All of these forms of brandjacking go against the number one rule online: transparency. Deceptive practices are the complete opposite to corporate transparency. As such, companies cannot ethically conduct business online while engaging in these practices.

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