8 Steps to Protecting Your Brand’s Identity

By amanda Disilvestro on September 13, 2016

A company’s brand is just as important as it’s products and services. So many big name companies are recognizable just by their logo; think Coca-Cola, Nike, Twitter, etc. People view those logos or hear those names and there is automatic brand recognition and respect. Those things are worth protecting at all costs, because it doesn’t matter if you’ve developed the best, most creative business idea in the world; if someone else steals it, it’s going to be extremely costly to fight to get it back. Sometimes, it won’t even be possible to do so. Thus, to keep your dreams from going down the drain, you need to establish a solid brand identity first, and then work hard to protect it from the competition. Follow the steps below to learn how to make it happen!

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  1. Build an Original Brand

Before you worry about protecting your brand’s identity, you need to make sure that your brand is unique to you. This means doing research to check out your competition so that you don’t accidentally borrow someone else’s name or logo and call it your own. There’s no point in doing a ton of work to protect a brand that belonged to someone else first; you could end up in a world of legal trouble, not to mention all the hard work you put in to develop and protect your brand’s identity will be for naught. It’s been said that some large companies will throw the book at smaller companies who even suggest the possibility of brand infringement. To avoid that giant headache, do the necessary research upfront and pick graphics, fonts, colors, names, and logos that are original and representative of only your company. Keep a couple other options on the back burner too, just in case.

  1. Utilize Trademarks

 

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According to RetailCustomerService.com, “trademarks are the primary means by which we can harness the power, and capture the value, of brand identity.” A name, a logo, a slogan, or a signature product can, and should, all be protected by a trademark. Once you’ve come up with the name or design you want to trademark (and you’ve made sure no one else already has it) you need to register it with the U.S. Trademark Office. It’s easy and cheap to do, and it’s one of the best insurance policies to prevent others from stealing your stuff. Once you’ve registered your trademark, make sure it’s used consistently within your company. The trademarked name, font, colors, logo, etc. all need to be the same from your website to your brick and mortar store (if you have one) to packaging and advertising. This is a good way to build professional brand awareness as well as to protect your investment from possible infringement.

  1. Choose and Register All Your Domains

Your website’s domain name is a big step in increasing brand awareness, and so once you pick a good one you’ll want to register it in order to prevent it from being stolen by anyone else. Choose a name that is short, unique (see step #1) and easy to remember. It may be worth it to pay for a .com, .net, and .org version of the domain as well, just to make sure no one else buys it and sets up a similar website that could damage your brand. In addition, as a Marketing Agency we suggest paying for domain names that are similar to yours, but perhaps are misspelled, and then using those sites to direct people back to your own website. Paying for domains is one of the cheapest ways to get brand insurance; GoDaddy offers coupon codes, Register.com has some affordable options, and even Google is starting to get into the domain game. For $5- $12 a year, you can’t afford to not register all your domains.

  1. Look into Getting a Copyright

If you’ve created a unique logo for your business, it may be eligible for a copyright on the grounds of it being an “original, artistic work.” A copyright makes it so that no one else can use, or profit from, your icon or symbol without your permission. A logo is an important part of your brand and deserves to be protected just like your name and website. Check out the U.S. copyright office to see if your graphic meets the requirements for a copyright.

  1. Create a Social Media Presence for Your Brand

You’ll definitely want to use all aspects of social media, including: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. in order to both promote and protect your brand. Advertise your company, it’s taglines, colors, and graphics consistently across all social media platforms and have a plan in place in case you receive negative feedback. If you’re not sure how to utilize social media to your advantage, SteadyRain offers a plan that can help your business grow while also safeguarding your brand’s identity.

  1. Consult a Lawyer

If you have the budget to do so, it’s not a bad idea to speak to a lawyer. Copyrights, trademarks, nondisclosure agreements, and contracts (among others) can easily become confusing and overwhelming, and mishandling them could mean the demise of your business if someone takes advantage of your lack of legal expertise and steals or ruins your brand. If this does happen, the first step is usually to send the offending company a cease and desist letter. While you can do this yourself, odds are it will be taken more seriously if sent by a lawyer. And if the company ignores the letter, you are able to file a civil suit, but at that point you’ll definitely need a lawyer. I’m not suggesting you go use your tight budget to put one on retainer right now, but it wouldn’t hurt to be familiar with one or two so that you know who you can turn to if something unexpected were to happen.

  1. Monitor Your Competition and Your Brand’s Online Reputation

Another good way to check on your brand’s reputation is to monitor what people are saying about it online. There are a ton of free tools that allow you to do this including Social Mention, TweetReach, Addictomatic, Google Alerts and Image Raider. Go online and search your business name or tagline on Google and Bing and see what comes up. Check out the competition’s websites and marketing tools and make sure they aren’t using your company’s brand information. The longer a business uses your trademarked or copyrighted symbols without getting caught, the harder it will be to get them to stop. The easiest way to avoid this is to constantly be monitoring what others are doing so that you can catch and stop any infringement immediately.

  1. Protect Your Brand with SEO Strategies

Some SEO strategies that may be worth looking into in order to protect your brand would be: optimizing local search engine listings by making sure your business is listed in Google Places, Bing and Yahoo Local, Yelp, and Foursquare. Then, brand these listings and advertise them just like you do your website. In addition, utilize responsive web design so that you website looks and functions just as well on mobile as it does on desktop. If one is awesome and the other is not, it’s only going to hurt your brand’s reputation.

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What steps have you taken to safeguard your brand’s identity? Comment in the section below!

Image credit: creativemarket.com

Feature Image credit: smallbiztrends.com

Image credit: domain.me



About The Author

amanda Disilvestro /