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Theft of brand

4 september 2014

The classical definition of a brand is «name, term, sign, symbol or design or a combination of all this meant for identification of goods or services of one seller or a group of seller, as well as for distinction of goods or services from goods or services of competitors». A brand is an atom of marketing, an indivisible unit from which everything begins. This is a key definition which makes it possible to distinguish «this product» from «that product». This is coca-cola and this is pepsi-cola. With all their similarity, you will not confuse them in 99.9% of cases. A brand is a guarantee. The guarantee that you have just what you want in your hands. A firm name, a company mission, a logo, a slogan, identity, corporate vocabulary, image and reputation in the market, — all this is actually not only a brand but methods of its supporting. A brand is like a flower which requires constant watering. If you do not support it with all available methods, sooner or later it will fade. And after it, everything that it embodies, will disappear.

However, besides the methods of brand supporting and increase of its capitalization, there are methods of its destruction. The most well-known of them is imitation. Only in 1916 (a year after the famous 6.5 oz bottle appeared) «Coca-Cola» brought 153 suits against the imitating marks: FigCola, CandyCola, ColdCola, Cay-Ola and KocaNola. Skilful imitation is often difficult to distinguish visually. Thus, for instance, in the nineties some skilled people created SHAPR trade mark imitating the then famous SHARP tape recorders. Such «masterpieces» as SQNY, Abibas, Mitusbishi, Heimekem and Ghanel also appeared then.

There is even more open piracy of well-known marks when the market is filled with exact copies of popular brands. The most well-known of them are Chinese «i-phones», «Swiss» watches. Neither consulting agencies, nor law-enforcement bodies can often assess the volume of the shady market.

The great danger is that «a pirate» damages trust in the original. He starts a chain reaction in which the too uncared-for «alike, but not the same» situation can lead to serious economic damage for all players.

The world has been fighting deceit for a long time, since the time when the first signs of symbols appeared. The most simple, the most understandable symbols, one of the progenitors of the Soviet art — signs on workshops and marks on artisans’ articles of high quality. It fights aggressively, wins, but everything is not always so unclouded as we would like it to be.

It is necessary to understand: professionals in their business are always engaged in piracy regarding any big brand. These are the people who would commit any crime for the sake of their benefit. The most glaring example is murder of Gianni Versace in 1997, who was allegedly shot at the steps of his mansion by a serial murderer without any obvious reason. There is a version, which is sufficiently convincing: the murder of the famous designer was ordered by Italian mafia which organized underground plants sewing branded clothes, in particular, famous crimson jackets invented by Versace. A year before his death, Versace apportioned 55 million dollars to fight the fakes, proceeds from sale of which exceeded the turnover of his firm twice and went mostly to the pockets of Cosa Nostra.

Piracy not simply erodes and destroys a brand. Piracy destroys economics as such. I will explain this. A brand, besides anything else, creates work places. For your brand and the product designated by it to develop normally, you need technical specialists who are directly involved in creation of the product, marketers who think out how to sell it, designers and copywriters, dealers through which you will sell your product, lawyers, financiers, PR and GR specialists, personnel specialist, web-masters and system administrators, security specialists, service specialists, drivers, couriers, office managers, etc. To earn on piracy, only one category of employees is needed — slaves. Only several factories are needed where Pakistani or Indonesian boys will sew trainers for a couple dollars a day and stick the logo of a well-known firm on them. Everything else will come, as they say. And, of course, corruption. Somebody must protect all this lawlessness from above.

It may look that digital piracy which is usually carried out via Internet or various «onion» and «garlic» projects, is arranged differently, but it is not so. First of all, the torrent tracker where the last Hollywood film or series is placed, destroys the brand and deprives people of work places in the same way. Secondly, the same mafia is in charge of these projects. Thirdly, corruption did not disappear anywhere.

And the main thing is that all participants of the network automatically become hostages of the piratical «business». The main purpose of the same «free» streams and torrent trackers is not to give you the possibility of free watching or downloading of «Transformers», but to transfer the users to porn websites or poker rooms with the help of banner advertising, pop-up windows and other primitive marketing methods. If you still do not understand that the main proceeds are gained by the owner of the torrent tracker for traffic transfer to the openly «dirty» websites, it means that you do not understand how such «industry» is organized at all. Out of 20 most visited websites in Tor system — 11 are check centers of botnets.

Actually, it is not about Internet. Internet is simply a method of data transfer. And the point is in the primeval human greed, in Sharikov’s desire to «communize» something without fail.

Piratical activity in the satellite segment to this effect is not such a widespread phenomenon as theft of trainers, Hollywood movies or computer programs, however there are its own swindlers here. The most well-known piratical scheme allowing to gain access to encoded satellite channels is the so-called card sharing. Actually it is a classical imitation of «Coca-Cola» or SHARP, because despite the high-flown words like «satellite television» and «space technology», the only thing such services are engaged in is sharing pass keys. This is a fake which openly parasitizes on the popularity of satellite operators. What an official operator must do with such fakes? Right, to sue and to win.

There is a temptation to think that piracy is a sign of some recognition, that, if your brand became a subject of piracy, it means that you have achieved something in life. Not in the least. The core of the brand is its reputation. If shady regulators paid attention to your product and you did not react to this, it is an immediate blow on your reputation. Because, unlike piratical, civilized business, as a rule, is connected with multiple partners, suppliers, right holders, dealers. As soon as they see an unpunished imitation of your brand, their trust in your company drops. And the main thing is that trust of consumers drops. The only way to save the brand is to protect it in court and appeal to law-enforcement bodies.

One should not create illusions for oneself. There are many people in the world who do not want and will never live honestly. Good branding supposes not only development of identity and promotion, but also an active position regarding protection of the brand against any attempts to copy it.

Beware of fakes!

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