Brandjacking is one of the biggest social media problems that modern brands face.
This term, which combines “branding” with “hijacking” is when a company or individual purposefully assumes the identity of another brand in order to exploit or undermine them.
While brandjacking can severely damage your brand’s reputation, it’s also easy to defend against as long as you’re prepared. To make sure this never happens to your brand, here’s an explanation of what brandjacking really is as well as what your brand can do to prevent it.
What is Brandjacking?
Brandjacking is often committed by competitors who want to take advantage of another brand’s social spotlight when they’re receiving a large amount of press, such as during a new product release or high profile event.
Customers and activists can also be found guilty of brandjacking, and this usually occurs if they want to draw attention to a brand’s corporate practices in order to influence some sort of change.
Lego: Ending A Brand Partnership
One recent example of consumer and activist brandjacking is the Greenpeace, Lego, and Shell fiasco. The environmental activist organization brought both Lego and Shell into a global social media conversation with a controversial video.
This video cleverly takes advantage of the song from the Lego movie, “everything is awesome” by singing instead, “everything is not awesome.” Greenpeace was calling out Lego for partnering with Shell and creating children’s toys which promoted an oil company.
Lego took the right action by cutting ties with the Shell brand, helping to gain back the activists and consumers who were against this brand partnership. While Shell branded Legos have come off the shelves, this video remains active on YouTube and is a reminder of the influence that brandjacking can have.
Apple: A Twitter Trend Takeover
Apple is a perfect example of competitor-based brandjacking. Technology competitors such as Samsung and Microsoft purchased keywords relating to the iPad Air release so that they could divert attention away from Apple and onto their own brand.
Unknowingly to Apple’s competitors, this would make the brand even stronger in the future. For last year’s Apple Watch release, Apple purchased a Promoted Trend so they could fully bask in the spotlight and remain the top trending hashtag on twitter for the day. While this definitely drew attention to Apple’s new product release, brands like Chilies were still able to “trendjack” upon Apple’s publicity with humorous and lighthearted tweets.
How to Prevent Brandjacking Hopefully your brand will never be subjected to brandjacking, but if it is, you need to have a solid plan of action. One of the best ways to defend your brand from brandjacking is by establishing a strong online presence.
First and foremost, your brand should establish an official account on every major social media site. This way, hackers won’t be able to create a fake account using your name, and any account they do create will be easy to report and have deleted.
If you’re lucky enough to obtain an official verified badge on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, that little blue checkmark is a perfect way to stand out from impostors. If you can’t get a verified badge, linking to your social media sites via your brand’s homepage is also a great way to offer access to your brand’s official accounts.
Another way to strengthen your brand’s online presence is to utilize a public brand book or press kit. When you have one dedicated location that displays your official brand assets as well as your brand guidelines, you’ll be able to call out hijackers for violating your brand policy.
Brandfolder is a great way to control how your brand is used (shameless plug – this is our specialty) because you can add specific brand guidelines to individual assets. Visit the Shazam and Ibotta Brandfolders and hover over their logos to see how they provide instructions on how the public should use their brand.
The threat of Brandjacking will only continue to grow as social media becomes more prevalent. If you don’t clearly define where your brand stands and how it should be used, people can do whatever they want with it and that’s exactly what you want to avoid.
Michelle Polizzi is the Content Coordinator at Brandfolder, a user-friendly tool for brand asset management. When she’s not busy creating content, you can find her bicycling around Denver or catching a live concert. She’d love to connect with you on LinkedIn.