The vast majority of people research products and services and make purchases online rather than in traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. In other words, it’s the digital age, and it’s vitally important that businesses promote their brand online to reach the widest possible market. That means building and maintaining a website, social media accounts, and using promotional email campaigns to target prospects and clients. Those things are essential, however, they also make a brand vulnerable and open it to attack. There are a myriad of ways to fall victim to unscrupulous online trolls and individuals, therefore brands must work diligently to protect their assets. Following are some of the most important aspects of online brand protection every company should pay close attention to.

Trademark the Brand

A trademark is best defined as any symbol, word, or group of words that are legally registered to represent a company or product. So business owners must do their due diligence by researching the chosen business name and logo design to ensure it hasn’t already been used to avoid complications and possible legal action. A brand name, logo, and tagline must be unique creations. If they meet those criteria, they are eligible for trademark protection through the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

Anyone can register a trademark for a brand name and logo that will be used to promote goods and services. It lets everyone know that the brand is protected by law and that counterfeiters, copycats and thieves will not be tolerated. Once registered, a brand name, logo and associated images are legally protected in the U.S. and sometimes other countries against theft, misuse, and abuse.

Copyright Your Content

As soon as someone publishes written work, like website content, it is automatically copyrighted, but authors of such works still need to protect it with a clear copyright statement. Copyright notices are sometimes generalized for the entire site and across every type of content. Other times, they’re specific to the individual item. Either way, it shows that someone claims authorship to the content and that any duplication or other method of copying is in violation of their rights.

Most often, the copyright notice is placed at the bottom of each website page or blog. It can also be included at the beginning of an eBook or whitepaper. Sometimes, watermarks are used in the background of written content, however, they can make it difficult to read. Therefore, this form of copyrighting is generally reserved for graphics, photographs and other images.

Monitor Online Conversations

Social media is a great place for brands to advertise, introduce new products or services, and most importantly, interact with customers. It’s also an essential tool for gauging the brand’s position against their competitors and participating in industry conversations. Monitoring the internet, especially social media, for mentions of the brand, logo, and products must become habitual.

Manually locating every mention of a brand online is a daunting, time-consuming prospect. There are free tools like Google Alerts that make the job quick and easy. They listen in on conversations, find out what others are saying about a company or products and will notify the site owner every time. It’s like having a security team in place to prevent anyone from hijacking the brand name, ruining the company’s reputation, stealing customers, and devastating the company’s revenue stream.

Enforce Email Signatures

An often overlooked method of brand protection lies in the way employees sign off on emails, both internally and externally. Many times, companies simply do not enforce company-wide email signatures. In fact, allowing employees to choose the way that they sign off is standard practice in the vast majority of organizations. The more employees there are, the more difficult it is to control those individual messages and protect the brand.

Standardizing email signatures is much like requiring a uniform or setting a specific dress code. In other words, it helps control the company’s professional image, keeps the message consistent and protects the brand from damage. Tailoring signatures for each department, including promotions, and adding unique content also helps improve response to marketing efforts.

Brand protection isn’t just a buzzword or temporary fad; it is an important aspect of every business. It ensures that the brand won’t fall prey to efforts to discredit the company. Brand protection isn’t just for long-established brands that are nationally or globally recognized. It is important at every stage of a company’s existence, from the moment it is officially formed through its maturity. Incorporating the techniques above guarantees significant returns both now and in the future.

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