Is your business susceptible to brand infringement or impersonation online? In todays digital world, failing to do a few key things to protect your brand could have major consequences for your business.
The good news is that just a few basic steps can go a long way to protect yourself and your brand online.
1. Reserve the name of your business on all social media platforms.
Yes, all of them. As we've mentioned before, you don't need to be on every social media platform but you do want to keep others from using your business name as their username and causing consumer confusion (or worse, intentionally pretending to be your company).
Reserve the username on all platforms of your company, including any variations. Maintain a secure database of all login and passwords and make sure you log in frequently enough to maintain each username. Once a year should be plenty.
2. Know what appears in your WHOIS data for your company domain name.
Have you ever heard of WHOIS data? Every domain name has WHOIS data associated with it. The WHOIS lists the name and address of the individual who owns the domain name.
Here is the WHOIS information for our domain name:
But having your personal or business information out there for anyone to easily find? This may not be the best idea for all business owners, particularly for small business owners who operate out of their home. This is why we'd recommend buying privacy protection service from your domain name registrar. Generally it is an extra fee of $8-10 per year, per domain name but it keeps your personal information from being readily available if you don't want it to be.
If your business has a storefront or, like The Incorporators, the address must be public, go ahead and skip this extra fee and list your contact information (as we did above).
You can look up your WHOIS data here. If you find that an address is listed that you are uncomfortable with being public (or that your data is incorrect), contact your domain name registrar.
3. Buy variations of your domain name.
One easy way to protect your brand and keep from losing potential website traffic is to purchase variations of your domain name. This is especially true if your company name is easily misspelled.
Many companies also buy keyword related domain names. For instance, if you go to inceasy.com, you'll see that you are redirected to our homepage.
For both of these examples, you would set up a 301 (permanent) redirect from the domain name variant to your business homepage. You can do this through your hosting service.
If you are worried about negative publicity for your company, some companies go so far as to purchase variations of their brand name with negative keywords attached. Nearly all of the worlds biggest companies own domain names like brandnamesucks.com etc. These domain names would not require 301 redirects and generally do not contain any information related to the company. They are only purchased to keep others from purchasing the domain name and using it in a negative capacity.
4. Set up Google alerts for your company name.
The last easy way to protect your brand online is to set up Google alerts for your company.
Google alerts send you an email with mentions of any phrase you request or mentions of a particular subject matter. You can specify how often you receive this email, sources, language, and how many results. See below for an example of how to set up the alert.
We'd recommend setting up an alert for your company name so that you are aware of any mentions of your brand online. If someone mentions you in a blog post, an article cites something you've written, or you're quoted somewhere online, you'll know about it and can respond accordingly.
Make sure that when setting up the Google alert for your company name that you include quotation marks around it. This ensures that you will only receive results with the full name of your company included, not just individual words within your company name.
You can set up Google alerts here.
Protecting your brand online doesn't have to be difficult or particularly expensive. We hope you found this helpful in determining some easy ways you can begin to protect your brand online.