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by Graeme Benge on 27th March 2013
Hi, I’m Graeme Benge, and today I’m going to be talking to you about brand protection. Brand protection has become ever more important as we’re seeing so much more access to brands with the proliferation of online properties, such as social media and review sites. So it’s becoming ever more important for companies to have a hold over what is being said about your brand, your services, and your products.
So today I’m going to take a two tier approach. I’m going to look at a defensive strategy and also an offensive strategy as well so that you turn defence into an attack.
The thing about brand coverage now is that marketing departments can spend millions and millions on branding exercises, be it logos, be it forums that they’re holding with their consumers, but that still won’t match the fact that the power of social media and review sites as I’ve just mentioned means that you can’t control every single mention of your particular brand or your product or your services.
So what you need to do is to try and control the controllables, to use a footballing term. First of all you really should make sure you have marked your territory off. So that means making sure that top level domains are yours and under your control and the variants of that, that you believe could be used to, one, spread your message further and to attack your brand as well. So you might consider variants of your brand name and also your products and your services as well.
Some things to consider here to take it to that next level is trademarking of your products and services. With effective trademarking should you not have had the chance to register a particular domain or even profiles, such as the usual brand terms, then that should give you a little bit more leverage in being able to reclaim those as well.
So I would start with top level domains. I would then look at profiles across social profile sites and business networking sites as well. A great tool to look at is Knowem, where they have packages that are there to sign up for hundreds of profiles. The upshot of all of this is that you’ll begin to have control over the domains and branded text that can be used to view results for your brand terms in the search engine listings.
An interesting strategy that I saw off the back of the Interflora episode is that they did have another domain, flowers.org, and did still rank during the time where they lost their rankings for their brand term, and it made me think as well that if you’re in a particularly competitive field, there might well be good reason to consider another domain where perhaps you branch out the content to something that’s less commercial, perhaps a little bit more inclusive of your consumer base, maybe something that is a bit more long form than what you commit to in social media. Build up that profile on that sub-domain as well. Then you’ve got another property that can rank for your branded terms and your products and your services as well. That’s not going to fit every business type. But it’s certainly something to consider as an insurance policy.
What you also need to consider as well is how on earth you can keep track of all the mentions of your brand and your products, etc. There are some great tools to look at that are free. Google Alerts is a great one to set up. Keep an eye how that’s performing. Of late it has been a little bit slow in terms of returning alerts for different things that I’ve set up. But there’s no doubt about it that it does give you certainly a good starting point in terms of going and finding where your brand is getting mentioned.
The upshot of that as well is that it can get give you some outreach opportunities as well. You might find that a particular site is talking about you or your brand or your products, and it might well be that you will be able to reach out to them and perhaps set something up. This is a little bit more in depth and you can get a much better link out of it. Failing that, a great citation, which is all good for your profile in the web world.
I’ve recently started using Mention, which is a brand monitoring tool. It’s a web application that you can sign up for. You set up the terms that you’re looking to monitor, and it does a very good job at keeping an eye on things, specifically on Twitter I have found. It’s very good at finding brand mentions and also re-tweets and who those people are that have been re-tweeting those tweets as well. So it kind of follows that chain of mentions, which again should alert you in the first instance to any mentions of your name that might be negative. You can act on that as well. Similarly, if there are any positive mentions, again you might have opportunities there to reach out and do a little bit of brand building that way as well.
TweetDeck, the Twitter web app version can very easily be customisable. Add a column that is looking for your brand terms or your product terms. That can give you an up-to-date, real-time view on what is happening with regards to your brand terms and product terms.
The last tool that I’d like to mention, there are many, many more, but these three are good starting points. It might well be that you use a combination of them. Or it might well be that you use one exclusively. But Topsy is a social media aggregator. Again, you can use Topsy to look for your brand terms, your product terms, and that will pull in all mentions from across the web and specifically for social media profiles. It’s real time as well, and you can manipulate the search to drill down into particular categories of searches as well. I would definitely recommend that as it is well worth looking at and seeing how that can work for you.
These sorts of things are very much defensive things. It’s all about being aware of what’s being said about your brand and your products. But what I want you to then do is take that defensive strategy and then turn it into an attack. Use it for good for your company.
So the upshot of a lot of these tactics is that you’re going to be able to start to listen much more effectively to your consumer base or your prospective consumer base. You can use this to better inform your business decisions, which might well be at any level. From pricing, there might be a barrier to purchase from a pricing point of view. There may well be benefits and features of your product or service that could do with being amended as well. The upshot of these things is that you’re going to be better aware of what people are saying about you so you’ll be better informed, and the decision making process, as I said, will be much more better informed from that point of view.
You’ll then from this be able to better target page one domination. So this is where you are looking to dominate the search results for any search for your particular brand. So get in those first ten results with properties that you own in some way. Your branded website obviously is something that you want to get as high as possible in that respect. You might have a LinkedIn profile as well. That’s a very strong profile to get hold of. Then perhaps the social media properties as well, business networking properties that you might have set up, all of these can add up together to dominate that first page of search results so that if anyone is looking to find out what your company is about, they don’t get or you don’t get hijacked by a negative review or any particular negative mention about your brand name.
Building on from the listening aspect is you should then be able to start to build your presence in more mediums than perhaps you originally intended. You may have had your own website. To build that and fill out content you might put a blog on there as well to keep people up to date with what’s going on. If you have these profiles, a lot of these profiles are part of communities that are very active, and as a result, there will be people who are potentially going to view your profiles that are never going to find your website. So you’re going to broaden your reach and potentially reach an audience that’s a little bit more targeted, which could lead to sales and transactions or at least start to build relationships up, build mailing lists up.
The benefits of building your presence in different areas is vital, not least from the fact that it also adds a level of insurance, for whatever reason, if you were to experience a slump in rankings. If you’re keeping a stream of traffic that’s coming to your site that isn’t just based on organic traffic, should you find that you’re losing any kind of traffic from an organic sense, it’s going to be mitigated by the fact that you’re able to drive traffic by other means, whether it’s through referral traffic from profiles that you set up or from email traffic where you have been building a list up as well.
So building a presence in these different fields is going to broaden your appeal, but also add a layer of insurance and put more eggs in different baskets as it were.
So that’s my view on brand protection and some of the things that companies should consider. If you’ve got any more questions, feel free to get in touch with us on any of the profiles at the end of this video. Thank you.