Brand protection is one of the crucial steps to successfully market your company. And brand protection in the online, constantly changing, world can be tricky. After all, your current and potential customers expect you to share some behind the scenes footage and photos on social media channels. How can you monitor what is said about your company, and take care of all the possible infringements of your good name and brand equity?
The topic of brand protection came up when I was researching holidays destinations and came across this article from Lonely Planet. Italy is fighting against counterfeit goods, and people buying fake Chanel bags, and Gucci wallets will be fined as well. It all got me thinking – luxury giants are actively protecting their brands trying to prevent the huge losses caused by forged products. What can SME do to protect themselves?
In an ideal world, the police would cover them. But what if your business is conducted online and you don’t have a tangible product? Regulations are usually a couple of years behind the technological advancement. To be honest, you have to do it yourself.
Importance of Brand Protection
Brands lost over $350 billion to online brand abuse in 2017. The harm done to your company can be substantial and irreversible. It can result in not only revenue loss but also increased customer service costs and legal conundrums.
It seems like a tragic conflict – on the one hand, you need to put your company online and exposed it on social media. It’s what every customer expects now. It’s almost impossible to market your company without an online presence.
On the other hand, it makes you vulnerable to all sorts of brand fraud and identity theft. Comeback after such an attack is incredibly hard, if not impossible.
If it’s such a dog-eat-dog world, what exactly do you need to do to protect your company? Here are our brand protection best practices!
The specific activities will depend on your industry (a big pharma company has different problems than a technology start-up), but there are some common solutions every business can implement.
Brand Protection Guide
Do you get a rush of cold sweats when you hear about your lawyer? In this case, you have to get in touch with him. Your logo, brand, tagline are what distinguishes you from your competitors. It makes you easily recognisable and unique. These are your significant assets.
The Nike swoosh allegedly costs about $13 billion. It’s one of the most valuable good Nike has. Customer around the globe recognise the brand and expect the quality that goes with it. That’s why Nike fights all the counterfeit goods with such fire.
Even the most prominent and most influential companies make this mistake. One of them was Amazon. It turned out that didn’t do the due diligence, and the name was already taken when they started their business. The case settled, but it was a close call. And there are much more exciting and profitable ways to spend the money you will otherwise spend on lawyers!
Intelectual property protection is one the of the best investments you can make. You will probably start small but who knows what the future will bring? Maybe you just established the company that will become Apple’s main competitor. Remember, that the law differs in every country, so you might need to alter your policy in each country you will operate slightly.
Brand Protection in the Online World
Apart from a strong trademark policy, you need to protect your website and all other online resources.
It might sound like a truism but remember about implementing strong passwords. I know it’s 2018 and you probably feel a bit insulted by this statement. But you’d be surprised how many companies still use passwords like “qwerty” or “P@S$w0rd”.
You are not only at risk of losing valuable data. The damage to your reputation after a leak of confidential information may be irreparable. Once you lost your customers trust you will have to work twice as hard to regain it.
Relevant read: Is Customer Trust the Currency of the Future?
Moreover, think about protecting your website against hackers. According to Google, the number of hacked websites will only rise in the future. The techniques are becoming more sophisticated each year, so you need to stay one step ahead.
You don’t need a big IT team to do that. Remember about regular updates of old software. Some of it will update regularly on its own. If not, set up a reminder and check for updates manually.
Another sensitive point in IT security is themes and plugins. Apart from frequent updates, remove the plugins that are no longer supported. Also, free plugins can have a malicious code added, that will hack your website.
Brand Protection and Social Media Monitoring
So, you got the lawyers and the computer guys behind your back, now it’s time for the important people – your customers.
How can clients help you protect your brand reputation? There’s no one out there who knows more about your product or service. And the best part is that they are already talking about your brand online. All you have to do is listen.
It seems time-consuming to look for all the mentions about your company online. There are so many social media channels, blogs, forums and news outlets you would probably need a whole new division just to look for online comments about your company.
That’s where social media monitoring tool comes in handy. All you need to do is to set up a project in Brand24 and, voila! The tool collects the mentions of your company.
Here’s a short guide on how to set up a successful brand protection project.
First, you have to choose the keywords you want to monitor. It can be the name of your company, the hashtag you use on social media or anything you would like to monitor.
Relevant read: How to Track Hashtag Performance
Let’s take a look at my project regarding Polka Bikes. I use four keywords:
- Polka Bikes – the name of the company
- Polkabikes – a “just in case” keyword, if someone spells it that way
- #polkabikes – it’s their official hashtag
- @polkabikes – in case someone doesn’t use the hashtag on Instagram but tags the brand
From that point on, the tool started to gather all the mentions of my favourite bike producer.
Pro tip: Don’t use too general terms. For example, if you run a restaurant, one of your keywords shouldn’t be “restaurant”. It is so broad you wouldn’t be able to draw any relevant conclusion. Try to be as specific as possible.
How to react to negative mentions
You received a notification, and someone is not happy with your product or service. That happens to the best of the best, so don’t panic.
Instead, you should put a plan into action. First of all, time is of the essence. The faster you react, the better the chance you’ll turn the tables around.
Secondly, listen to your clients and investigate the matter. Sometimes, it’s just a miscommunication, sometimes it’s your fault, and sometimes the customer is at fault.
But there is so much more than just collecting and reacting to mentions!
When it comes to brand protection, these features will be the most useful:
Sentiment analysis will tell you not only what people are saying but also how they are feeling about your brand. Brand24 automatically assigns sentiment to posts: neutral, positive or negative.
All data mining tools still have problems with attaching right sentiment when people are ironic. We give you an option to choose the right sentiment manually. And our AI team is working hard on improving this feature!
Relevant read: What is Sentiment Analysis and How to Do It Yourself
The best part is that you can turn negative sentiment into positive if you react in time. Your customers love to see your reply to their comments. According to a study by Jay Baer and Edison Research, 53% of customers expect a reply on review sites.
Everyone loves to be treated with respect. Listen and pay attention to your clients’ problems and they will appreciate it.
Another cool feature that will help you manage your brand reputation is storm alerts. Any time there is an unusual surge in the number of mentions of your chosen keywords, you get an email.
Many social media crises start in the same way. Someone is not happy with a product and posts about it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Then other people comment on a post, starting the snowball effect.
Storm reports give you time to react. When you see a notification, you can investigate the matter and calm the storm before it escalates. You can protect your reputation and meet the highest customer standards. I call it a win-win situation.
The context of a discussion
The last useful feature of Brand24 (when it comes to brand protection, of course. There are plenty of other features you will use, for example when working with influencers) is the context of a discussion.
It’s a graphic showing all the words people use together with your chosen keywords. You can see whether your brand has positive or negative associations.
An interesting example of this feature is this one. Jamie Oliver, the cook and restaurateur, is associated with such words as “ban”, “sugar” and “healthy”. Jamie is known for his fight against child obesity, that’s why not all of the terms in his search history are positive.
The context of a discussion gives two vital pieces of information. Firstly, you get a general impression of where your customers might be. That’s a valuable market insight – the term Polka Bikes is search together with words like “Warsaw” or “women cycling”. Its primary customer group is women from large cities, so Polka can develop a marketing campaign targeting this specific group.
Secondly, you will know what people think about your brand. In the case of Jamie Oliver, not all mentions are positive, but it’s due to his quite controversial campaign. We can assume, his campaigns are getting some traction and will bring the desired results.
Monitor your competition
It would be awesome if we could live in a world where everybody plays fair. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
You can stay one step ahead of dishonest rivals and monitor their actions in real time. Hopefully, it won’t happen often, but if you spot someone using your brand name in a harmful way, you can react immediately. Stopping the damage from escalating is one of your greatest weapons.
To get the mentions about your competition all you have to do is set up a separate project with keywords dedicated to their company.
It will also keep you informed about their new marketing campaigns. When you see an increase in mentions on Instagram or Twitter, the probably are implementing an influencer marketing campaign.
There is such a thing as bad publicity, and you must protect your brand against it. After all, you worked hard to get your company off the ground and don’t want to lose it all. It’s a tough job to do, and we’re really happy we can help. Start your free trial today and see for yourself how helpful social media monitoring is!