Creating a strong brand means setting your online business apart from the competition, increasing awareness about your products and services and building a following of loyal customers.
This takes a great amount of work and consistent effort, but the brand is an incredibly valuable asset in the business world. Unfortunately, online businesses, more than brick-and-mortar ones, are regular victims of opportunists who try to use the reputation of established brands in their favour.
Protecting the brand identity of your online business is critical for long-term success. You don’t want to encounter legal problems, to see your ideas stolen and copied, or to have your customers scammed by someone else in your name.
Here are a few important things to keep in mind if you want to take precautionary protection measures.
Trademark Your Brand
A successful online business depends on implementing innovative ideas to gain a competitive edge over similar businesses.
Originality matters when it comes to brand name, website and blog domains, logos, designs or slogans. Having your original ideas stolen can be frustrating. It can also cause severe financial losses since you’ll have to make changes in your brand building strategy.
The most efficient way to safeguard your brand identity against Internet opportunists is to use trademarks. If you have a blog, trademarking your blog name is essential as soon as it becomes a fully-fledged business.
Similarly, if you have an e-commerce store, you should trademark both your business name, logo and any other distinguishing elements of your brand that appear on your products and promotional material. In the case that someone copies your name or another element unique to your brand, such as a logo design or a motto, you can use legal recourse against them. Without trademarks, you won’t be able to prove ownership of concepts and ideas as easily.
The same goes for your actual product which can easily be replicated if you don’t have a ™ or patent on it.
Monitor Your Brand ‘s Online Reputation
Gone unnoticed, any foreign interference in your brand identity can have a hugely negative impact on your business. It can damage your reputation, cut your market share and invalidate years of hard work.
It’s crucial to stay vigilant and monitor the market for potential intellectual property theft and brand name misuse. To avoid serious issues, start by monitoring your competitors since they have the biggest incentive to copy your successful ideas and practices. Another key thing to do is to pay attention to online mentions of your brand.
Simply put, you need to know what people are saying on the Internet about your business. To monitor online mentions, you can use free tools like Social Mention, Google Alerts or TweetReach.
Whenever someone mentions your brand name, you will get a notification. Monitoring the online presence also gives you the chance to notice quickly any infringement on your brand identity. If someone is misusing your brand name, you will be able to take action immediately and thus prevent more serious damage.
A simple, yet effective way to keep an eye on your brand’s reputation is to type your brand name regularly on the most popular search engines and see if anything suspicious comes up.
Claim Your Brand Name Everywhere
Most online business owners go for the .com or .co.uk when it comes to choosing their official domain name. If you want to prevent Internet scammers from replicating your website and harming your brand, consider purchasing all popular versions of your domain name, including .net, .info or .org.
Consumers might accidentally type the wrong extension and then make a purchase on a scam site believing it’s the legit one. By implementing redirects to your official website, you will stop potential scammers from taking advantage of your brand’s reputation. Similarly, you should secure your name on popular social media platforms even if you don’t intend to promote your business there yet. By claiming your brand name, you make sure someone else is not going to start a page in your name and hurt the reputation of your brand by posting things that do not represent your values and principles.
Customers are likely to search your business on social media platforms. It’s better if they find a page with minimal content rather than a fake one. Identity theft and intellectual property theft are common on the Internet. To run a successful business online, you must be proactive about preventing Internet opportunists from interfering in your affairs.
Create A Terms and Conditions page
People like to poke fun at some of the overly specific terms and conditions of certain products or services. The reality is that they serve a very serious purpose. Not only does it make it clear what a consumer of your content should expect, but it can also deter intellectual property thieves.
This clause makes it clear that the material in the site is either copyrighted or trademarked or both and that you are the owner of the IP even the material that is not trademarked or copyrighted. It may not stop somebody bold enough to steal your content, but it gives you a solid legal standing when you decide to pursue the matter in the courts.
You should definitely talk to a lawyer and have them draw you up a T&C page professionally. It is tempting to use a template you can take from the web and just change the names and information in the text. And it is legal to do so. But, this is not going to cover some of the specifics and could leave you without the legal ability to pursue the thief.
It may not seem that important when you are just starting out, but protecting your brand online is something that you need to take seriously before your site generates traffic.
Your brand must inspire trust and confidence, so to make a living with your online business you have to maintain a professional and respectable brand identity. Use our tips to keep your brand safe.