by: Joseph Mann

Is the soft global economy eroding brand value? A new study by the CMO Council seems to say so. Their global audit of 306 marketers titled "Protection From Brand Infection" reports that trademark infringement and brand knockoff artists are moving increasingly online.

According to Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer of MarkMonitor, a brand reputation protection solutions company, “The immediate impact of a brand attack through online scams, phishing or cyber squatting is on the integrity and reputation because such activities are customer-facing and go right to the heart of what contributes to underlying brand value, customer attitudes and interpretations.”

Yet ironically, the study reports that those typically with the most intimate understanding of brands and their value — the marketing department — are being left on the sidelines in the war to maintain brand reputation. Indeed only 15% of marketers lead brand protection programs, with 42% of those surveyed assigning this role to legal, finance or IT.

Although marketers in some of these companies may have been officially cut out of the picture, there may still be hope to leverage marketer skillsets for brand protection in less formal ways. "Older" Web communication tools like blogs can help put valuable brand protection information in front of customers while newer tools like Twitter have already been famously used in customer service and help ensure that consumers receive the right communications from the brand owners — not knock-off competitors. While many of the brand erosion threats seem to be focused on business-to-consumer brands and less so on business-to-business sales, these and other customer communication tools still have a valuable education role to play.

The CMO Council for its part is leading the charge by teaming with AVG Technologies and launching a consumer notification and education center to boost brand threat detection, called "Slam the Online Scam" at

The CMO Council and MarkMonitor. "Protection From Brand Infection." May 11, 2009

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