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A Few Tips to Protect Your Brand and Reputation

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When you’ve built a business you have to do more than attract customers. You also have to protect your brand and reputation. Along with all of the advantages of the digital era come some serious threats to your reputation and credibility. There are several areas of focus to consider if you want to protect your brand.

Legal Safeguards

When it comes to legal issues, you need to be proactive and do what you can to avoid lawsuits, accusations of copyright infringement, and other problems. Trademarking your business name and logo provide you with a certain degree of protection.

Post legal disclaimers about your privacy policy and use of cookies and data. The latter is now mandatory if you have any customers in the EU with the GDPR regulations. However, it’s a good idea to post this information no matter where you’re located. To avoid spam complaints, make sure you only send emails to people who have given their permission. Always have a clearly posted unsubscribe link in your emails.

Protect Your Domain

Your website is your virtual storefront and your domain is the address. There are a growing number of domain extensions, many associated with particular locations, professions, or fields. If you own a .com domain for your business such as Widgets.com and someone else sets up a website such as VVidgets.net (or with any other extension) it can cause brand confusion.

You can’t realistically buy every extension on the market as there are now thousands of them. Some are irrelevant or even undesirable (e.g. extensions that are region-specific). However, it does make sense to purchase the most popular ones such as .com, .net, .org, and .info if you are in a competitive market.

Monitor Social Media

It’s easy for anyone to set up a social media page. You can’t rely on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to protect your brand and prevent other users from setting up pages under your name. Some competitors may do this innocently. Someone may have the same name as you or independently come up with an identical (or very similar) company name. There are also brand imposters who deliberately set up fake websites and social media accounts to fool customers. Either way, you should be aware of similar sounding domains.

The simplest way to prevent others from starting pages under your name is to be active. Simply having substantial content helps you bolster your brand. You should regularly monitor social media and review sites to make sure no one is using your brand name without permission or slandering your business in any way. Set up Google Alerts or use social monitoring tools, so you immediately know when someone mentions your business or product names.

Guard Against Hackers

If hackers gain access to your website, they can replace your content with their own. This not only causes you to lose business, but it can also cause serious harm to your reputation. In some cases, they may advertise pomography or illegal items. While there’s no foolproof way to ensure that you never get hacked, there are some precautions you can take.

  • Use reliable hosting. For added security, consider VPS or a virtual private server rather than shared hosting.
  • Make sure your website has a valid SSL Certificate. Your URL should begin with HTTPS rather than HTTP.
  • If you use WordPress, make sure you’re using the latest version. Keep all themes and plugins updated. Be careful about downloading plugins from unknown sources.
  • Backup all content on your website. This way, if you ever do get hacked you’ll at least be able to repost your content when the site is repaired.

Prevent Merchandise Counterfeiting

If you sell physical products, you have to worry about counterfeiters and brand hijackers. It’s common for unscrupulous sellers on Amazon and other platforms to copy physical products and sell them at a lower price. It’s even easier to copy digital products such as e-books. When your products are pirated in this way it not only harms your profits it can damage your brand when others sell inferior versions of your products.

Although it’s impossible to completely eliminate this pervasive problem, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself from counterfeiters. Technology offers some solutions for brand protection as well. Chips can verify the authenticity of physical products. There are also some promising blockchain solutions on the horizon. The most important safeguard, however, is to stay vigilant. If you catch someone trying to hijack your product, immediately inform Amazon or whatever platform you’re using.

Dealing with Malicious Reviews

You can’t control what customers say about you. Nor can you please everyone. Any business eventually gets negative reviews. However, some bad reviews are outright slander. In some cases, unethical competitors may post negative reviews to discredit your business.

In other cases, it may be customers or trolls who simply enjoy maligning others. Whether they attack you on social media or review sites such as Yelp, you need to be aware if people are posting unfair or untrue “facts” about your business. When you find such reviews you can respond accordingly. If you believe the reviews are fraudulent (e.g., someone claiming to be a customer who isn’t), inform the review site. Some sites will remove fake reviews.

Carry on!

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