A Complete Guide To Protecting Your Brand Online


Published: | By Joyce Ang

Protecting your brand online is something you should be focusing on consistently as a growing company. Your brand is your most valuable asset, responsible for building emotional connections with your target audience, and differentiating your business.

Unfortunately, as Warren Buffet once said, “while it takes years to build a powerful reputation via your branding strategy, it only takes seconds to destroy it.” In a competitive digital world, there are countless potential threats to your brand and business identity.

From someone trying to steal your brand name or logo, to negative reviews harming customer loyalty, being aware of the risks facing your brand means you’re better-positioned to protect it.

Here’s your guide to keeping your brand safe online.

What Is Online Brand Protection?

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Protecting your brand online involves establishing a set of strategies or steps you can use to defend your identity from possible threats. Essentially, it’s how you secure your “intellectual property” (IP), your business reputation, and anything else specific to your company.

In today’s competitive world, effective online brand protection is an ongoing and consistent part of looking after your business. It requires constant monitoring of potential issues which could impact your business, such as negative comments, or someone trying to hack your website.

Most strategies for online brand protection involve a combination of:

  •         Security measures like malware protection and firewalls
  •         Brand reputation monitoring, like social listening and responding to reviews
  •         Legal protection like trademarks and copyrighting

It may also involve implementing policies for your team members to follow. For instance, you may use a set of specific brand guidelines to ensure your identity and personality remain consistent in all of your marketing messages.

Who Needs Brand Protection?

Any company can benefit from protecting their brand in today’s online landscape. If you have an established brand, you should be working to keep it safe from people who might try to harm or steal it. However, some organizations need the right defense more than others. 

For instance:

  •         Brand value companies: Well-established companies with a strong brand rely on their identity to set themselves apart from the competition. If your company is based on the strength of your trademark, it’s crucial to protect it.
  •         Product innovators: Innovative companies selling new and unique products need to protect their intellectual property. If you’ve created something new for your industry, the last thing you want is for another business to steal your idea.
  •         Design-focused companies: Businesses that excel in aesthetically-appealing products need to think carefully about how they can protect their image online. When your product or service looks great, there’s a strong chance someone might try to steal your identity.

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Why Is It Important to Protect Your Brand Online?

Any company with a strong brand needs the right protection. Brand abuse and misuse is rampant in today’s landscape. Your brand is crucial to increasing sales, boosting customer loyalty, and ensuring you can continue to thrive in a competitive environment. Fail to defend your business brand, and you risk losing everything that makes you unique.

If you don’t implement the right brand protection strategies, you risk suffering from issues like:

  •         Decreased sales: If counterfeiters steal and reproduce your intellectual property, they may be able to capture some of your customers for themselves. This means you end up with fewer sales, and struggle to differentiate yourself from other organizations.
  •          Tainted reputation: Your brand influences how your customers perceive and respond to your company. If another company steals elements of your identity, this can have an impact on how customers view your business too. Lack of customer trust can cost brands $2.5 trillion a year in missing sales.
  •         Lost trust: Not only does a damaged brand lose you the trust and loyalty of your target audience, but it can make it harder to preserve relationships with suppliers and partners too. This could mean you end up with a damaged supply chain. The more suppliers abandon your business, the harder it’ll be to continue serving your customers.
  •         Expensive resources: Aside from losing money on sales, the financial side of your business will also suffer thanks to the resources you’ll need to spend on rebuilding your brand reputation and fighting counterfeits. Legal costs can be very expensive for damaged brands.
  •         Lost brand equity: The more your brand’s damaged, the harder it’s going to be to demonstrate the value of your identity to your shareholders and investors. You may find you lose some of the crucial capital you need to continue growing your brand after multiple attacks. This is particularly problematic for new and smaller businesses.

How To Protect Your Brand Online

Protecting your brand online doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems. For the most part, a lot of the work you do will involve simply ensuring you have the right legal structures in place. You’ll also need a consistent plan of action you can use to ensure your brand reputation isn’t suffering as you continue to grow your company. Some of the most valuable steps you can take include:

1. Take Ownership Of Your Brand Name

One of the most valuable things you can do to protect your brand, is ensure you own the key elements of your identity which differentiate you from your competitors. Trademarking your name is a valuable first step, and something many of the top businesses do.

Start by searching for your company’s name on the USPTO website to ensure it isn’t already taken, then fill out the appropriate forms to register your trademark.

2. Set Up Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a powerful tool for monitoring all kinds of content relevant to your company. You can use the “brand monitoring” service to track what competitors and customers are saying about your brand. There’s also an option to implement alerts when someone tries to break into your domain.

Having the right alerts in place should ensure you’re the first to know when something goes wrong with your website, or your brand reputation.

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3. Add Legal Documentation To Your Website

Adding the right documentation to your website has a number of benefits for businesses. It can help to establish your credibility and develop more customer loyalty, by allowing you to share information about your return strategy, shipping policy, and terms and conditions.

Documentation like a “privacy policy” and “site disclaimer” will also highlight your commitment to protecting your brand to any potential attackers. This could reduce your risk of being targeted by criminals looking to steal brand assets.

4. Monitor Online Actions & Affiliations

Monitoring and watching your brand are some of the most important things you can do when you’re trying to preserve your business identity. You can start by setting up Google alerts for whenever someone mentions your company or products online.

There are also tools available for “social listening”. These solutions allow businesses to track @mentions, and other references to their brand across social channels.

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5. Have A Strong Social Media Presence

A healthy presence on social media is more valuable than most companies think. The better you stand out on social media, the more you’ll attract customers and traffic for your website. However, your social presence also allows you to interact with your customers, develop credibility, and build relationships which can reduce the impact of brand attacks.

Using an Instagram growth service and creating a strong social content strategy will ensure you can develop brand awareness and recognition fast.

6. Monitor Your Brand & Competitors

As mentioned above, protecting your brand online relies heavily on your ability to keep track of what’s being said about your business. You’ll need to pay close attention to the reputation building around your company, by searching for it on Google and social media.

It’s also worth setting up strategies to monitor the competition in your industry. This way, you’ll be able to see whether other companies are trying to steal your brand assets, or piggyback off your existing presence in the market.

7. Respond To Reviews

Aside from simply paying attention to the conversation around your business, it’s also worth setting aside time to become a part of the discussion. Responding to reviews will show you’re committed to delivering the best possible service and experiences to your audience.

Crucially, as upsetting as negative reviews can be, it’s particularly important to respond positively to this feedback, too. The right response to a negative review can turn an unhappy customer into a brand advocate.

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Commit To Protecting Your Brand Online

Protecting your brand online is one of the most important things you can do as a growing company. Customers form emotional connections with brands and identities, not with the products and services that those organizations sell. With this in mind, you should always have a strategy in place to ensure your reputation remains strong in your industry.

With the steps above, you can start implementing measures to defend your company from serious problems, like IP and brand asset theft, or simply negative reviews. Remember to pay close attention to your brand as it evolves over time, and always use legal protections when possible.

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