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What is Brandjacking and How to Avoid it?

By Benjamin Massa
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What is Brandjacking?

Brandjacking is an ultimate headache to many enterprises, especially the leaders of specific industries. It is an activity of another group or individual, which involves acquiring the online identity of another enterprise, with the purpose of pretty much stealing the brand’s worth and authority. The theft of brand identity is far more common than you can think. And mostly it occurs with online campaigns.

Examples of Brandjacking

A Brandjacking individual may try to use the reputation of the target company for personal goals or try to damage the reputation of its target company for ridiculous reasons. Some of them may be even political campaigning reasons. This is how cancel culture currently works and Brandjacking can become the main fundament – for example-negative publicity from a celebrity may end up in the termination of a celebrity’s brand ambassador contract, but a company itself is likely to have greater losses finance wise and authority wise.

Clearly, damaged reputation leads to loss of the customer base and decreases even the possibilities of getting new leads. In such cases, some brands have to completely re-invent themselves post-crisis.

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Big Brands getting High Jacked

The bigger and the more influential the company-the higher are the chances of becoming a target of Brandjacking. Companies like Starbucks have become quite the targets in past years. In this paragraph-let’s discuss more specific examples.

  • In 2013 Coca-Cola parodied the “Bitter taste of sugar” campaign that was made for Oxfam (Netherlands),  emphasizing their unsustainable business practices.
  • Starbucks got quite in a situation when a You Tube video was posted underlining the concepts of consumption and poverty regarding their Frapuccino campaign. Quite uneasy right?
  • Fake blogs are also a big source of Brandjacking. Fake social media profiles and blogs are most commonly used for damaging the image of a specific political persona or a celebrity.
  • Affiliate brand bidding is commonly used by affiliate marketers. Such tactics are also called unethical Black Hat SEO. Make sure to check out our article about white and black hat SEO strategies for more detailed description.

How do we avoid Brand Jacking?

It’s always best to make sure you avoid such interaction rather than dealing with them after they’ve happened. Here are a few tips on Brandjacking avoidance:

  • Registration of pre-emptive brand names as screen names on Social Media sites.
  • Stay Vigilant.
  • Use Social Media monitoring tools to control the appearance of any relative case.
  • Take timely legal actions at the first sign of Brandjacking possibility.

Identity Theft and Cloning

Now, you might think-what could possibly go worse than Brandjacking in general, but let us assure you-identity theft is another crisis. Now, of course another individual cannot just completely masquerade as you, but they still can try to attain your traits right? In this case-the authenticity of the brand is clearly in danger.

Identity theft in Marketing can be exemplified through brands trying to copy others’ campaign strategies, or taglines and slogans. Also, having the brand-names all too similar. To make sure you don’t have any setbacks in legal arguments against such companies, which are basically copycats-make sure you have your products and designs or even basic key textual elements copyright organized.

Arguing later whose idea it was first-will do no good. Once you have the patent of your production-arguments become far easier. After all, anyone can say-it was my idea in the first place, right? So, ensure the safety of your legal documents regarding your intellectual properties to avoid such uneasy situations.

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By Benjamin

Digital expert


Benjamin Massa

Benjamin is an experienced strategy consultant with 360° skills and a strong mastery of the digital markets across various industries. He advises our clients on strategic and operational matters and elaborates powerful tailor made solutions allowing organizations and entrepreneur to achieve their goals. Building the digital leaders of tomorrow is his day-to-day job.


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