By Marie Le Maitre

Brand ProtectionWarren Buffett once said reputation is everything, and that while it takes 20 years to build a reputation, it only takes five minutes to ruin it. Of course, this theory applies to global behemoths like Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway just as it does to the small mom ‘n pop grocery store.

While brand awareness, lead generation, and retention have remained key marketing objectives over the years, the methods of accomplishing these have changed considerably. In today’s world, digital marketing is now central to successful marketing strategies.

It is important to remember, though, that you’re not the only one marketing your brand—be it the loyal customer who has infringed on your IP by setting up a fan page that misuses your company logo and inadvertently damages your reputation, or fraudsters who try to make a quick buck by putting up websites that mimic yours. Only a comprehensive domain name strategy enables you to manage risks from friends and foes alike. If you don’t fully understand the digital brand portfolio you own, you can’t conquer the online challenges that build or damage your brand.

The digital brand audit

Domain management is central to everything that follows—eCommerce, social media, and apps—and effective domain management strategies start with a digital audit. Getting everything in order allows you to concentrate on doing what you do best and communicate your brand by targeting the right audience.

The audit begins with asking the right questions:

  • How many domain names does your company actually own?
  • Do your domains point to live sites?
  • Do they all redirect to appropriate content?
  • What high impact/high risk domain names are available?
  • Which domains are you paying for that could be lapsed without risk?
  • What new gTLDs should you register?
  • Do you keep social media and domain credentials—such as usernames and passwords—in a central location?
  • Are you ready to register your username on the next big thing to both protect and build the brand?

Protect your digital marketing assets

Whatever your digital brand audit uncovers, it is vital to act on the results. Digital assets require continuous nurturing as new products are launched and existing ones move through their product lifecycle. Many companies invest in SEO without first laying the groundwork with domain name strategy. Are the right domains registered? How much traffic actually gets there?

Marketing professionals are eager to gain insight into customer behavior while taking an interest in what product, technology, and operations teams can deliver. But there is a danger in launching marketing campaigns and bypassing the organization’s overall intellectual property strategy. Larger companies may have well-established protocols for naming new brands, but often decisions are made by simply checking whether a domain is available. Brands that operate in many markets will need to check availability of country-specific domains as well as top-level ones. Trademarks need to be established. So do usernames for social media platforms. The IP strategy must be clear who does what—and where.

It’s not uncommon to come across larger brands with thousands of registered domains that they own or that are infringements. Their own registrations are almost certainly excessive. We recommend companies use domain name management services that also protect a brand’s store of digital marketing assets, including apps and social media handles and usernames. Having a consolidated overview allows us to instantly see where the trouble lies. If, as Buffett says, it takes only five minutes to ruin your reputation, speed is of the essence.

This post is the abridged version of an article originally published at Masterclassing.com. To read more on how to protect your online assets with a digital audit, go to cscdigitalbrand.services/en/domain-management-strategy.

You’re Not the Only One Marketing Your Brand