The value of the brand
SSAB’s brands hold a promise to the clients and are therefore extremely valuable, and need to be protected from counterfeiters. Unfortunately, unauthorized use of SSAB’s brands is not uncommon.
SSAB’S brands deliver a promise to the customers. “It’s about identity. There are certain expectations that are linked to our brands, that we as a company need to deliver on,” explains Johan Anderson, global head of marketing and brands at SSAB Special Steels.
SSAB has numerous brands and many customers will only get familiar with one or two. “The brands are developed based on relevance to the customers. For example, Strenx is common for industries that are producing and using big cranes, while those in the car industry may be more familiar with the Docol brand.”
Counterfeit products are widely spread and impose big risks to end customers. “It’s very risky to use steel that isn’t what it says it is. Often, the material that has been used to create the counterfeit product is of very low quality to start with. Furthermore, the recommendations for reparations will be completely wrong if the branding is wrong, so both safety and financial risks are extremely high,” Anderson explains.
The way counterfeiters use the brand can vary. Sometimes they only mention that their product is made with, for example, Hardox steel, but sometimes the counterfeiter will go as far as to mark their steel with an SSAB brand and even include it in documents, such as proposals and invoices with SSAB’s logos. “There is a lot of money to be made in using strong brands. For our customers, the usage of our brands is crucial to their marketing, and other dishonest companies try to take advantage of that,” Anderson says.
SSAB takes any kind of counterfeit very seriously and follows up on every reported case. “We get information about most cases directly from our customers, who learn that their competitors use our brands.” SSAB can immediately check any suspected unauthorized use of their brands and other forms of infringement. All customers are registered in SSAB’s management systems. “There are hundreds of thousands of companies that use our products, so our electronic systems are very advanced.”
When purchasing products made with steel components, customers can always check with SSAB to ensure the branding is correct. “It doesn’t cost anything. Another way of ensuring that you are getting the right material is to check the serial number. You can track the material all the way back to the original production.”
By Anne Margrethe Mannerfelt
This article has been published on SSAB World magazine’s issue 1/2017.