What Risk Zone Does Your Brand Occupy?

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In our daily lives we encounter risk in many forms. These risks involve crossing against a light, driving to the grocery store or mowing the lawn.

Much of it is minor stuff compared to risks we encounter in the course of running a business. How we face that risk has an impact on our brands. The business climate is a lot more complicated than it was even 10 years ago. A simple example is letterhead – where is it held, who controls it, how is it used? If I can steal it, I can be a company without their knowledge. It is much farther reaching then that! What if I stole shipping documents with the brand on it? I can then pretend to be part of the company and operate with minimal intervention both internally and externally (Customs or Police). This is no different then stolen identity at a personal level.

A Brand Risk Assessment takes into account all environments you do business in, production standards and all elements that could potentially expose your brand to risk. In a world tarnished by threats of terrorism, any risk exposure would harm your brand from the observing marketplace. Take for instance CTPAT, (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) – a U.S. / Canadian government business initiative to build cooperative relationships that strengthen overall supply chain and border security. When a company is CTPAT Certified they lessen the chance of their brand being compromised by parties who would do them harm. CTPAT is an exporter iinitiative that speeds up border crossings and further ensures increased security for each country. If a company is exposed due to a breach in security they stand to risk a great deal with regards to shipping to the U.S. or Canada and this reflects negatively on their corporate brand. If for instance a company who manufactures auto parts were to have a dirty bomb or any illegal cargo hidden among their shipment (even unknown to them) and their shipment is seized at the border, the ensuing media attention can unjustly harm their brand. CTPAT puts in place increased security at every touch point in the shipping process with the goal to easing risk for all parties involved. This is increased protection for your brand.

Peter Berry, OB1 Consulting – a risk assessment and CTPAT specialist lists additional benefits of CTPAT as:

• Reduces border inspections.
• Minimizes border clearance times allowing for predictable transit times 
 and transportation costs.
• Allows for movement across the border even during a red alert.
• Reduces compliance costs with customs requirements.
• Allows companies to compete for opportunities that require a security clearance.
• Provides access to the FAST lanes at the Canadian/US border.
• Allows for improved security in your work place.
• Allows for reductions in cargo theft.

The Oklahoma City bombing thrust the Ryder Trucks Brand Risk into the Hot Zone. Today you can be sure, more precautions are in place to lessen that risk. Naturally it is pretty much impossible to cover every possible scenario, but a Brand Risk Assessment does a good job due to the fact that its facilitators typically are experienced people from within the security industry. They look out for situations way off a layman’s radar. Take for instance the case of a well known coffee manufacturer who had their brand packaging copied and used on packages containing cocaine. The manufacturer was tipped off to the scam when a long shoreman was injured off-loading goods when a 50lb. box of cocaine hit him in the head, sending him to emergency. He ended up on compensation due to the severe nature of the injury. It was investigated and suspected that the load was supposed to be intercepted by a long shoreman and had nothing to do with the coffee company. They had no idea that drugs were in the load. It was supposed to be taken out by longshore or the driver. News of the incident set off alarms that something was amiss – law enforcement was dispatched immediately and the shipment seized. An investigation resulted which proved the brand was not involved but it does cause business disruption, a great deal of anxiety within the workers and costs due to law enforcement interaction to normal processes and the employees involved. Not a comfortable feeling when the federal government investigates your company for drug or weapons smuggling. What tipped them off? Their coffee isn’t shipped in boxes. They are shipped in bags. The street value was approx. $700K CDN. A lot of money to entice a bad guy and hardly worth the value hit to the brand had it been public that coffee company brand had been used to smuggle. It would have sent the brand into the Hot Zone.

Every day, your brand’s risk potential relies on the integrity of your company’s security practices. When it comes to your Brand Risk Assessment, you want your brand to reside in the Cool Zone.

If it goes up to Warm or Hot – watch out, you’re inviting disaster to dinner. And your brand is the main course!

Ed Roach

For more than 30 years, I have worked with hundreds of successful small businesses by helping them develop unique brand positioning strategies that differentiates them from their competition. I appreciate working with companies who see the value of going beyond mere slogans and have a desire to sell from compelling positions. I consult predominantly with businesses facilitating my proprietary branding process. This branding process effectively focuses a company's brand delivering a positioning strategy that can be taken to their marketplace.

I have international speaking experience and am the author of "101 Branding Tips," Practical advice for your brand that you can use today. I'm also a "expert panellist" with Bob Proctor (from The Secret)'s Matrixx Events in Toronto.

I have been interviewed in all media and I also blog extensively and uses the digital realm on the web to connect and promote my services world-wide.

I have international speaking experience including a recent event in Prague, in the Czech Republic and is the author of "101 Branding Tips," Practical advice for your brand that you can use today, the book is available on Amazon.com and the Amazon Kindle store.

My clients are from Canada, The United States, Ukraine, India, United Arab Emirates and Tanzania.

I recently facilitated a workshop in San Diego aimed at teaching Graphic Design companies how to build brands for their customers.


  1. Fred333,

    Does it really matter what positon you hold, it’s your world that is important. Any hit of this sort to your brand could cost you money. Even if your are a small fish in a small pond, the negative effect of being in a hot zone can effect your opportunity for growth in that sector. Brand risk is a reality we all live with at some level. I don’t think it matters what the product or service is. Could you explain more why you believe it DOES depend on product and position?

  2. Hi

    This is my first time to visit your blog.

    Two thumbs up for your post. It is really true that everyday big companies are putting their brands in danger. Even if there are already tight security measures implemented, still a lot of bad guys able to get away from trying to ship smuggled goods using the names of other well respected companies.

    Companies should also be more tight in terms of security with the goods they are shipping everyday. More keen and careful to put the right people in the whole shipment process.

    These illegal activities can really affect the reputation of many companies. I wish government will be able to put a stop to this kind of illegal activities.

  3. I think it definitely depend on what your product is and also what position in the industry you are.

  4. And what should I do in your opinion to save my brand and reputation in the modern world?