Counterfeiting is a huge problem for companies worldwide and a recent estimate by the World Trademark Review attaches an annual sum of over $600 billion lost due to global brand theft. This staggering sum includes loss of revenue to brand owners, unpaid government taxes, job cuts at manufacturing firms and even death or injury caused by fake or sub-standard pharmaceuticals.
Counterfeiters target an array of different legitimate products to pass off as their own, or alternatively they distribute faulty or imitation goods with forged labels and packaging which are sold to look genuine. Products such as medicine, wines and spirits, clothing and footwear, toys and electrical goods are all typical examples of counterfeited products.
The good news for brand owners is that there are many anti-counterfeiting technologies available that can be used to protect labels and packaging. Brand protection can be built into both the design and the physical make-up of the labels and then have tracking data applied to it to assist in authentication procedures.
Image technology is one way to protect your brand’s labels. Available features include the use of overt systems which are detectible by the naked eye, or covert which include machine-readable labels that are only visible with special equipment. A hologram is an example of an optical variable device (OVD) that is one of the layers of protection that can be applied to a label to stop it from being copied.
Protecting the way in which a label is printed is one of the most important ways to secure the design of your brand. Labels are made up of ink, mediums such as paper, film or cardboard and then coated, often with a varnish. All of these aspects of a label are able to have a security feature installed within them.
Whether it be the use of a wide colour gamut for special colours, or the identification of specific chemicals that are used within the label ink, there are numerous ways to secure your label and make it easily identifiable against a fake. An alternative option is to focus on the use of tamper evident labels, which use films that shred into pieces when a layer of the label is interfered with.
Another way to stop counterfeiting is to halt any criminal activity within the distribution chain. If brands enable the tracking and tracing of their goods by either printing a sequential code with each impression of their label design, or employing the matching of hidden codes to printed codes, then this allows for easy checking during shipping which ensures that containers are not lost or diverted on to counterfeiting organisations.
Existing technologies range from being reasonably cost-effective to quite expensive, but the best way to keep a brand secure would be to use a combination of technologies that suits your company’s budget. It would also be wise to regularly review and adapt the technologies you use in order to optimise your security procedures, effectively keeping counterfeiters at bay and your brand safe from thieves.
The more succinct you are, the more you can spread your brand message, because your audience will be able to understand it, which is how you will achieve brand recognition. There’s only so much space available for your text, so be sure to choose words that have the biggest impact and sells your brand efficiently. It is important to use good quality label suppliers to ensure that labels are consistent and of a high quality.
If your competitors have product offerings that are similarly priced, the difference between customers choosing their product over yours could simply be down to the labelling. The cost of investing in labelling is relatively minimal, but the cost that incorrect or poor labelling can have on your business can be immeasurable.
Tammy Wiltshire works for the leading UK label manufacturer, Labelnet. Based in Ongar, Essex, Labelnet design and manufacture high quality branded labels, stickers and packaging.