Your Brand’s Presence is what sets you apart from the rest. It’s what makes your business unique and identifiable. And it consists of all sorts of aspects.
The product you offer. That handy infographic you created. That beautifully designed logo. It’s all part of what makes your brand different from any other brand on the market. And you’ve put a lot of hard work and effort into creating all those brand assets, right?
Unfortunately, there are people out there who want to use all that intellectual property (as it’s called) for their own gain, without paying you for it or even asking you if they can use it. So to prevent that from happening, you need to protect your brand’s presence.
Below, you’ll find out more about the best ways to protect your brand. Because why should someone be allowed to freeload off your hard work?
3 easy steps to protect your brand’s presence
1. Claim your intellectual property rights
You can legally protect separate parts of your intellectual property by registering them and claiming certain rights. The most common rights are trademarks, patents, and copyrights.
Your brand name, your logo, your slogan. All these recognizable elements of your brand can be protected by trademark rights.
Although it’s not mandatory to apply for trademarks when creating a brand, it can prove helpful if you want to ensure you’re the only brand using a specific set of words, phrases, symbols, or designs.
To find out more or apply for a trademark you can visit the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).
A patent is slightly different in that it helps you protect a unique invention rather than just your branding. Once you’ve patented an invention, others will not be allowed to make, use, or sell your invention.
You can visit the USPTO for a patent as well.
Copyright further helps you protect all your other brand assets. From computer programs to blog posts to photographs and so much more. And luckily, once you create something new it will automatically be copyrighted.
You see, as explained on the official website of the United States Copyright Office, copyright “protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression”.
This automatically gives you legal ownership of any work you create. That said, you can officially register copyrighted material as well, giving you even more legal protection in case someone tries to steal your material.
Show off what you got
As they say, prevention is better than cure.
It’s advised to have a clear trademark/patent/copyright notice on all of your website’s pages and documents (like published reports). This way, anyone visiting your site is straight away made aware that you own the rights to your assets (and you’re ready to enforce those rights).
2. Enforce your rights
Once you have all rights in place, it’s time to enforce them by trying to stop people from unlawfully using your intellectual property. Here are a few examples of how you can do this.
The first way is to search through search engines like Google. You can simply search for one of your slogans or specific phrases used on your site to see if someone has used the same words somewhere else.
This can be easy and effective if you want to find out if your website’s copy or (blog) content has been plagiarized by someone else.
For images, you can use Google’s reverse image search function at Google Images. Simply drag and drop one of your images in the search bar and the site will search the web for that image.
Scrape the web
The problem with searching Google as described above is that it can take a lot of time to manually search for all your brand’s assets (and repeat that process regularly).
Instead, you can scrape Google results pages or specific websites using a web scraper or web scraping tool.
For example, there are Google reverse image search API tools out there that can help you automatically scrape data from Google’s reverse image search functionality described above. You can learn more about Google Reverse Image Search APIs by visiting this website.
Another example is to scrape retail sites like Amazon or eBay to check if someone is unlawfully reselling your products or using your branding to sell counterfeit products.
3. Take (legal) action
Once you’ve found a thief, it’s time to take action. Ideally, you want to avoid turning it into a lawsuit as this will cost you time and money as well.
Instead, the best first step is to email or write the culprit, telling them to remove the published content from their website.
If they refuse, you can hire a solicitor to deliver them a so-called cease-and-desist instruction. This is like a final warning, threatening with legal action.
If this still doesn’t help, it might be time to get a lawyer and take legal action.
More ways to protect your brand’s presence
Aside from protecting your brand from theft, you should invest in claiming your brand and its reputation across the web. Here are three ways to do this.
Brand your domain
All those unique brand assets need to live somewhere. Ideally, you want that to be on a domain name that’s the same as your brand name.
Furthermore, you might want to buy all relevant domain extensions – like .com and .info – to ensure you own your branded domain across multiple geos, while also preventing cybersquatting.
Rank for your brand
When people search for your brand name, your website should be first in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This gives your brand authority and gives malicious thieves or resellers less chance to try and copy your brand or reuse your assets for their gain.
Monitor your brand’s online reputation
Lastly, you want to monitor your brand’s online reputation. Because if customers are complaining about not receiving products or dodgy emails from your brand, it might be the case someone has stolen your brand identity.
You can monitor your reputation in many ways, from tools like Google Alerts or Social Mention, to using web scrapers to extract data from review sites or online forums related to your niche.