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The Real Truth About Brand Jackers: Why They're Not As Innovative As You Think

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

The brand recognition that a company builds for itself is one of its most valuable assets. After all, it is the recognition of the company’s name and logo that helps customers remember it and choose its products or services over those of its competitors.

However, there are companies out there that try to take advantage of another company’s hard-earned brand recognition by piggybacking off of it. This practice is known as “brand jacking.” The practice is illegal and unethical. It is a type of creative short-cutting that involves either copying the product or service itself, or mimicking its design, messaging, or overall business approach.

Employees Working Together

Brand jackers are individuals or organizations who use another company's brand name, trademark, or intellectual property without permission for their own commercial gain. They can be a competitor, a reseller, or even a third-party seller on an e-commerce platform.

Brand jacking can take many forms, including counterfeiting, cybersquatting, trademark infringement, and false advertising.

For example, a brand jacker may create a website that mimics the look and feel of a legitimate e-commerce site, with the intention of tricking consumers into buying counterfeit products or providing personal information. Or they may use a trademarked brand name or logo in their advertising or marketing materials, implying a connection or endorsement that does not exist.

Brand jacking can harm a company's reputation and erode customer trust, as well as lead to lost revenue and legal disputes.

The Psychology Behind Brand Jacking

Brand jacking appeals to business owners who want a quick and easy fix to their reputation struggles, but their short-term gains come at a hefty long-term cost. People who engage in brand jacking are motivated by greed and a sense of entitlement. They believe that by leveraging the success of another company, they can jumpstart their own reputation and business venture. In their minds, it's perfectly acceptable to ride the coattails of another company's success because their own reputation has been affected negatively. Furthermore, some people use brand jacking as a form of revenge against their competitors, taking advantage of the confusion and mistrust that their brand jacking will cause.

The Dangers of Brand Jacking

Brand jacking can have dire consequences for businesses caught engaging in the practice. It's against the law, and companies that attempt to brand jack can face hefty fines and even jail time. Furthermore, brand jacking damages the reputation of the original brand and can cost them market share and brand loyalty.

In this article, you will learn how to spot companies that engage in brand jacking practices, as well as what you can do to avoid them.

Brand Jackers are Copycats

The difference between brand jackers and true innovators is that the latter create something new, while the former simply imitate what already exists. Brand jackers are successful because they ride on the wave of a successful brand or company.

Unlike true innovators, brand jackers are, by definition, imitators, and copycats. They depend on the success of existing companies and rely on the same market and customer base. Brand jackers may offer cheaper, knock off versions of a product, but they truly lack in the areas of creativity and innovation. In contrast, innovators develop completely new products or services and and employ strategies that drive the market forward. They are not dependent on the success of existing products and are willing to take risks in order to create something new. They create entirely new markets and often succeed when others have failed.

The Real Reason Brand Jackers are Successful

Brand jackers are successful for several reasons. First, BJs are able to leverage the brand equity of a successful brand or company, which can bring them short-term success. BJs are quick and agile in their approach, meaning they try to react quickly to changes in the market and move away from what no longer works. But the real reason brand jackers are successful is that they understand people better than most innovators. They identify what it is that people like and dislike and use clever tactics to turn them into customers. They know how to appeal to their target market and how to get people talking about their brand. This means that even though they do not offer anything new, people are still drawn to them.

How to Spot Brand Jackers

To avoid falling victim to brand jacking, you must be proactive in protecting your brand identity. This means closely monitoring online activity to detect any potential brand theft. The easiest way to spot a brand jacker is to search online for your company’s name. If there are any domains with similar names or words, you should investigate. Check to see if social media accounts have been created with the same name or a similar name. You can also use Google Alerts to get notified of any potential brand jacking activity. Alerts can be set up for your company’s name and any other terms that are closely associated with it.

Graphic on Protecting Your Business Brand

Six Ways to Avoid Brand Jackers

1. Register Relevant Domains: One of the best ways to avoid brandjacking is to register the domain name of your company as well as any other relevant domains. This will help prevent other companies from registering domains that are similar to yours and using them to steal business away from you.

2. Monitor your Brand: Staying vigilant and keeping a close eye on your branding is key to spotting any attempts to brandjack you. Regularly searching online, setting up Google Alerts, and monitoring all of your social media accounts will help you stay on top of things.

3. Keep a Record: As you're keeping a close eye on your branding, be sure to keep a record of any attempts of brandjacking. This includes taking screenshots of attempts you spot, recording dates and any other information that will be helpful if legal action is needed.

4. Brand Protection Software: Brand Protection technology helps to guard against questionable listings and brand abuse networks that intrude on your intellectual property, market counterfeit products, and execute other online scams against your brand. BPT monitors and detects violations including fake domains, third party sites, unauthorized apps and search engine results, thus helping in overcoming brand impersonation, minimizing monetary and reputational damage. The analytics generated by BPT can be used to determine a brand's vulnerability and provide applicable guidance on how to improve the brand's online presence, by providing holistic workflows and interactive report tracking to improve content management.

5. Engage with your Customers: Answer questions and respond to comments on your social media accounts to show customers that you are the real deal. This will also help you keep an eye out for any attempts to brand jack you.

6. Utilize the Law: There are laws in place that help protect companies from brand jacking, such as trademark law. If someone is trying to pass off your brand as their own, you can take legal action.

Protecting your Brand is Vital

Protecting your brand is important for several reasons:

  • Reputation: Your brand is your reputation, and it represents the quality and values of your business. Protecting your brand means safeguarding your reputation and ensuring that your customers associate your brand with positive experiences and high-quality products or services.

  • Customer Loyalty: Protecting your brand can help you retain existing customers and attract new ones. When customers trust your brand, they are more likely to remain loyal and recommend your business to others.

  • Competitive Advantage: A strong brand can give you a competitive advantage in your industry. By protecting your brand, you can distinguish your business from competitors and build a unique identity that sets you apart.

  • Legal Protection: Trademark infringement, copyright violation, and other intellectual property issues can damage your brand and result in legal action. By taking steps to protect your brand, you can prevent others from using your brand name, logo, or other identifying features without permission.

  • Brand Value: Your brand is an asset that can add value to your business. By protecting your brand, you can increase its value and make it more attractive to potential investors or buyers.

Wrap Up

Brand recognition is an invaluable asset for any company. This is why it is so important to take steps to protect your brand from being exploited by companies who want to pass off your hard work as their own. Do your research, stay vigilant, and utilize the law to your advantage to ensure that no one can steal the recognition you have worked so hard to build.

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