You just hired a new online brand protection provider, and it’s exciting. You will finally have some horsepower behind protecting your brand online and most importantly, fighting back against online counterfeiters and grey market sellers that seem to multiply like cockroaches.
To get ready for your new solution, you and your team map out the high-level strategy to protect your brand, look at your sales channel and start prioritizing platforms to monitor. You intimately understand your IP portfolio, your product supply chain, the needs, and desires of your sales org, and even what tactics unauthorized sellers use most when perpetrating abuse against you.
One major problem. All that critical information lives in your brain, and the brains of key internal colleagues. If your solution is like most, it comes with a ‘dedicated analyst’ to run scans, review results, and manage enforcements for you. How will they ever learn and retain all this institutional knowledge? And how much time, effort, and resources will it take to train them?
IP Owner knowledge transfer: your provider needs it to do their job – lots of it, you and your team have it, passing it along is tough.
Online Brand protection is like ordering items online and only being able to pick a category of things. Imagine ordering groceries from Postmates, Instacart, or even whole foods via Amazon, and instead of being able to specifically pick the exact SKU level product you want, you can only pick a category of food. For instance, instead of picking your desired breakfast cereal brand/flavor, you can only tell them ‘cereal’.
Suddenly, the risk profile associated with me using a grocery delivery service would go way up. What if I ask for chocolate-flavored Honey Bunches of Oats (because it's gluten-free), but the delivery person picks regular Honey Bunches of Oats (which has gluten)?
Well, multiply that risk by the millions of people with more serious food-related allergies and illnesses and well, it simply doesn’t work and would never succeed.
The world of online brand protection solutions feels very similar. Picking which types of online infringements you should and will take action against is very personal to the brand, industry, and senior management perspective on the problem. In addition, it’s not a static set of rules, but an evolving strategy that will change and adapt as the brand and online landscape grow.
Starting at the top of your organization, leading through all levels, through your primary internal stakeholders, and then outward into the forefront of your online brand protection vendors thought process, and eventually down into the actual workflow of your analyst, is a very long way for instructions on how to handle online infringement to travel… wooh!
Quite frankly, I would argue that true knowledge transfer never really happens. Not in the deep operational way intended and, when it does occur somewhat successfully, it lasts only as long as your most talented, intelligent Brand Protection Analyst sticks around.
Over about two decades, the IPSecure team has designed and deployed every manner of online brand protection program. In our view the model with the highest level of success, enforcement impact, and cleanest brand presence online are hybrid programs.
A hybrid online brand protection program divides and conquers the online brand protection landscape by ensuring that those involved stay focused on their respective areas of expertise and are compensated and incentivized accordingly. Solution providers present themselves as technology firms – so the real value they could provide is derived from technical understanding of the platforms you monitor, and how to find, prioritize, and present infringement incidents (i.e., providing data).
Brand owners understand their space, their portfolio of IP, tolerance for risk, and strategic growth plans. No outside person, no matter how skilled, will understand these nuanced operational complexities better than the brand themselves.
Another problem with the Do-it-for-me approach is turnover. Yes, every vendor says their folks stay forever, but we all know that isn’t true. Being a brand analyst is a tough, demanding job, and it's inevitable that folks in those roles will burn out, get a higher-paying job, or move on for any number of different reasons.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Customer Service Representatives have an overall average turnover rate of 30-45 percent and workers ages 20-34 stay with an employer about a year on average, compared to up to 2.7 years in other industries. This means your Brand Protection Analyst is not a traditional Customer Service Representative, but there are a lot of similarities there.
Consider structuring your program so that vendors are performing detection, analysis, and data collection – but you handle enforcements. Hybrid programs can decrease overall cost and increase impact, while minimizing the disruption of outside analyst turnover.
At IPSecure, our focus is empowerment, which means we give you the tools to do what you do best, make those complex enforcement decisions. This way, no knowledge transfer is needed, we hand you the keys, and you decide where to go and how to get there.
Whether you have a team of 1 or 100, by calibrating where your vendor monitors and how and when they deliver detection data, your internal team can handle review and decision making with ease. To learn more about IPSecure or apply for membership in our beta program, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, (855) 997-6907 or visit us at ipsecure.com