A brand terrorist is an individual or organisation that uses underhand tactics to disrupt a competitor’s brand or business. They often use guerrilla marketing tactics, such as negative campaigns, social media attacks, and other forms of disinformation. It’s an extreme form of competitive marketing that works against the interests of the target brand or product, even at the risk of damaging their own reputation or brand.
The primary objective of a brand terrorist is to make their own brand seem superior to the competition, establish market dominance and increase market share. This aggressive and often unethical tactic is used to disrupt a competitor’s public perception and reputation, while freeing up space in the market for their own brand.
The first step in becoming a brand terrorist is to identify a competitor’s weak points and create a strategy to exploit them. This could include attacking their products, services and reputation, and creating false or deceptive advertising. It might also include spreading rumours, creating misleading marketing copy, or even Trojan Horse tactics, such as pretending to represent the competition while slandering their service.
Once these tactics have been judged suitable, a brand terrorist will often use disruptive tactics such as aggressive advertising campaigns, guerrilla marketing, and highly-targeted messaging techniques. The use of cyber-attacks or negative Online Reputation Management techniques are also often used to discredit competitors and create unnecessary bad publicity.
In extreme cases, brand terrorism tactics may go even further and include physical sabotage, cyber-hacking, and even bribery. The most damaging forms of brand terrorism are those that are illegal, those that harm customers or damage the environment, or those that breach existing laws or societal norms.
Brand terrorism is often carried out over a long period of time rather than in a single burst, allowing their campaigns to have a slow, but potentially devastating, effect on their competitors. In some cases, the target brand may never recover, leaving their competitor as the primary brand in their target market.
Brand terrorists often use a range of tactics and tools including:
- Creating false or deceptive advertising
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- Constantly publishing negative content
- Cyber-attacks and Online Reputation Management
- Sending out aggressive or extreme messages
- Spreading rumours or disinformation
- Harassment or intimidation to disrupt a brand’s operations
- Guerrilla marketing
- Trojan Horse tactics
- Physical sabotage
- Bribing staff and corrupting the competition
It is important to bear in mind that while some of these activities may seem attractive, the risks involved in engaging in brand terrorism are often far greater than the rewards. Not only will you be risking reputational damage, but you may also be potentially breaching existing laws and regulations. Brand terrorism can be a highly complex area and as such it is important to understand the laws applicable to the region you are operating in, including any laws applicable to online activities and potential data breaches.
Additionally, it is important to consider the potential consequences of brand terrorism and the possible impact it can have on both your own brand and the target brand. As such, it is important to understand that brand terrorism must be used with immense care and discretion. If the risks are outweighed by the potential rewards, it is important to ensure that any campaigns are planned, documented and managed carefully, in order to reduce the possibility of a severe backlash.