The Harvard Journal of Law & Technology recently released its Fall 2010 issue, now available online. Aaron Perzanowski, author of “Unbranding, Confusion, and Deception” has written an abstract of his article for the Digest, presented below.
- The Digest Staff
JOLT Print Preview: Unbranding, Confusion & Deception
Unbranding is the practice of eliminating or selectively reducing the use of a brand in response to unfavorable consumer opinion. Faced with the reality of a deeply damaged brand, many firms seek a fresh start. Rather than take steps to repair their public image, they create a new one. Although unbranding threatens to confuse and mislead consumers about the source and characteristics of goods and services, the legal remedies available to consumers to address these harms are limited.
When a brand suffers from strong negative consumer perceptions, it transforms from a valuable asset to a major liability. Just as brands can function as repositories of consumer goodwill, reflecting favorable public sentiment, they can also represent badwill, negative associations in the minds of consumers. Given the expense of jettisoning an established brand and launching a new one, unbranding is generally a rational strategy only when an existing brand is deeply and widely unpopular, perhaps because the firm has produced dangerous products or engaged in illegal activities. Tellingly, Blackwater, Philip Morris, and WorldComm have all employed unbranding strategies in recent years. (more…)