5 Steps to Take in Order to Protect Your Brand

Nothing incredibly successful comes easy. Ever heard of the saying “Rome wasn’t built in one day”? If you’re looking to build something impressive, you have to take baby steps to ensure that each aspect of it is as close to bulletproof as you can get. When building a house, you have to spend just as much time on the foundation as you do on the facade, otherwise its aesthetic beauty will inevitably crumble.

The same is true when building a business. Before reaching the public’s eyes and ears, a business must establish a plan to ensure its success. And let’s be honest, it takes time and effort to protect and differentiate your brand in the 21st century.

This is because the century’s innovation has intensified competition between those who took advantage of the growth of the internet. As the internet grew, so did online shopping, and an entirely new industry for businesses arose.

Because competition intensified online, many manufacturers get a little nervous when sending their products to resellers. Combine this with the fact that unauthorized resellers can run rampant, and you can see there are necessary steps to ensure brand protection. So without further adieu, here are the 5 steps manufacturers should take to protect their brands online.

1. Gain an Understanding of Your Vertical

What kind of product do you make, and how does it fit into the eCommerce industry? Are you manufacturing a niche-market product? Or are you developing one that anyone can use? These are questions you should answer in order to build the foundation of your brand protection strategy

The answers can help you understand the market’s competition level and age. The older it is, the more crowded and competitive it will be. With the answers to these questions, you can begin to build your tactics to actively protect your brand online.

2. Build a MAP Policy

A minimum advertised price (MAP) policy is a great way to combat price wars in competitive industries. It’s basically an agreement between you and your reseller network that dictates a price floor they can’t sell your product below. Finding the right price to set as your MAP is a task in and of itself, but it just takes a little bit of research.

There are two points to building an effective MAP policy. The first being the actual price. To find the right price, it’s a good idea to look to your direct competitors and see what they sell their products for. Do you want to be luxurious in the consumer’s eye? Or are you trying to be a value brand? The answers to these questions can help you price above or below your competitors.

The second aspect of a successful MAP policy is finding a reseller network that will respect your prices. If you’re looking to sell your product to a retailer that appears to regularly slash prices, your policy may not be worth much in their eyes, and that’s ok. You can always opt out of doing business with them, and instead search for a more respectful retailer.

3. Monitor Your Products’ Prices

Once you’ve discovered a network of resellers you can trust, it’s time to monitor your prices across your entire network. The easiest way of doing this is with an automated price monitoring tool. It will not only help those who are violating MAP stand out, but it will draw your attention to every reseller, authorized or not.

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Since automated price monitoring scans the entire internet for your product’s UPC, it’s going to search in every nook and cranny that you may have previously overlooked. From there you can expose your gray market sellers that somehow got their hands on your product. These sellers don’t know that you have a MAP policy in tact, so they’re more than likely selling your products at a lower price than you’d like.

4. Report Violations

Once you’ve spotted violations, you can report them with screenshots of the reduced prices. Presenting evidence of a violation is the best way to approach the situation. Actively defending your brand’s value is an absolute necessity to stop violators in their tracks. Also, the transparency and understanding of your monitoring can prevent violations in the future.

But how do you deal with gray market sellers? The easiest way to interact with them would be a cease and desist letter to their legal department, but there’s so much more you can do. Contacting them and building a relationship is an option. It will increase your reach, just make sure to convey your MAP policy to get everyone on the same page.

5. Reassess Your Process

After taking the previous steps, wait a couple of months and assess the results. Were your resellers as successful as you previously hoped? If not, it might be a good idea to cut your selling relationship with them. If they were successful for your brand, then hold onto them and don’t let go.

Or maybe you’re just having a hard time selling your products to different retailers. At that point, you may want to take a step back and reconsider your MAP policy. It might be too low for retailers to make a profit, or significantly higher than your competitors. You should just give it a few months to make sure you’re making informed decisions instead of relying on speculation.

It’s important to allocate enough attention to each of these steps. Building a system to protect your brand against the intensity of eCommerce is no easy feat, but it’s definitely possible.

Photo Credit

Min-Jee Hwang

Min-Jee is the former Director of Marketing at Wiser. She has extensive experience working with SaaS companies and holds a BA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from NYU Stern.

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