Businesses today work in a cross-border environment. Local is global and global is local in terms of products and services offerings by companies. In the times of a connected world, the barriers of geographies have been shattered by the interconnected computers, handheld devices, and mobiles through the Internet. There is a continuously reducing discreteness, privacy, and secrecy about the way a business is being launched, practiced, and conducted. Transparency is continually becoming the name of the game.
In the times, not before a few decades, it was far easy for businesses to keep their existence, their practices, their conduct, their offerings, and their management etc., somewhat isolated geographically. This would have helped them hiding any wrongful things or unethical conduct for a far longer time as compared to these days. All this becomes more and more important from the perspective of IP protection.
Let us see a recent case of a household milk brand, the most popular one in India and well-known for its tongue-twisting creative lines for ads/hoardings on topical issues. It so happened that some people in Canada went ahead setting up a LinkedIn page, used their logo, even used their tag line, and started posting Job requirements posts. In a way, either they were impersonating another company or might be creating a similar name-based company on the other side of the globe.
Of course, this Indian giant took them to task and filed trademark infringement case leading to winning their first such legal battle on trademark violation outside India. Imagine there were no LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram kind of platforms it would have been so extremely easy for these people to conduct business sheerly by exploiting the strong brand equity created by this Indian company painstakingly over many decades.
How easily they would have conned the Indian diaspora in Canada to believe that they are a part of the same group? How they would have grown their business without investing in brand-building of any sort? How many employees they might possibly have fooled, who would have believed that they are working for a great Indian brand? And what about consumers, who would have expected to have a great brand experience? And what if there was a quality mismatch in the offerings of these fraudsters? And how would it have rubbed off on the brand image of the Indian giant? Many more such questions are often faced by popular brands, always.
Interestingly, social media worked as a double-edged sword, for these people who tried to infringe upon the trademark of an established brand. The platform they tried to use to promote and build themselves only led to their fall. It was the good listening practice of this Indian giant that led to noticing the fraudsters in time and take corrective actions.
Apart from this very nature of social media platforms and their algorithms that connect people and entities to each other, allow exposure, provide amplification has played a role in getting this noticed. These platforms help escalate your network as soon as you sign up, post, comment, participate, engage in any manner on these platforms. It is almost instantaneous, establishing connections and highlighting whatever your social media behaviour is on these platforms.
Brands having good listening practices, tools to continually monitor news and happenings around them in real-time, good business practices of receiving feedback and responding to social media developments are always in a better position to identify and address similar situations. In fact, some if similar may have the potential to become a full-blown crisis due to malpractices of impostors hitting the brand image of any company directly.
While social media platforms often allow crises situations to erupt rapidly, they also give you a chance to contain such crises, provided you are always listening!
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