At its core, brand protection is the act of preventing brand abuse. It’s quite a straightforward concept, but it is by no means an easy one to implement. These days, registering a trademark is no longer enough to protect your brand. Think about online shops that sell counterfeit Nike or Louis Vuitton products. These companies have existing trademark registrations, yet others continue to use their brands illegitimately.
One reason behind the increasing difficulty of protecting one’s brand is the proliferation of online stores. Shopify alone has more than 820,000 merchants. And the global e-commerce industry is predicted to hit US$4.9 trillion in sales. Beyond the world of e-commerce, brands also need to protect themselves from cybersquatters, most of whom are looking to resell domains at unreasonably high prices or even attempt to use them maliciously.
With this in mind, domain brand monitoring and protection has become more urgent. But with millions of online shops and the ease at which anyone can register a domain, how can you protect your brand in the domain name space? Below are some of the best practices businesses employ.
1. Trademark Monitoring
Trademark monitoring is the most logical thing to do as you have to be on the lookout for entities who are abusing your rights. But how can monitoring be possible with millions of domains registered daily? Tools such as Brand Monitor can help. Just input your trademark or domain on the dashboard and wait for 24 hours for it to return a list of all domains that contain your chosen keyword.
When we monitored Transferwise, for instance, the tool detected two domains that were added or modified and one domain that was dropped in less than two weeks.
If you are wondering what the 334 beside the keyword means, that is the number of domain look-alikes that the tool automatically generated. These misspelled domains include those with the words “transferwize,” “transfer-wise,” and “trensferwise,” which cybercriminals can use to mimic the brand via typosquatting-enabled attacks.
2. Market Trend Monitoring
The best rule of thumb when operating a business in any industry is to understand your market. What are the current trends emerging? What do your target users want or need? Market trend monitoring is also a form of brand protection as it helps your company stay on top.
You can monitor brand- or market-specific keywords to get a glimpse of:
●Keyword popularity: Monitoring keywords that are relevant to your brand would help you know what keywords to include in marketing collaterals. That way, you can improve your chances of appearing as a top search engine result. Identifying the terms that your target consumers are looking for can also clue you into what products or services they are interested in.
●Market trends: Sudden influxes in registering domains containing specific keywords can provide insights into market developments. You can use such information to change to more relevant domains, perhaps.
3. Cybersecurity Enhancement
While it isn’t the marketers’ job to protect their company’s network from threats, they need to realize that working with a domain that has a tarnished reputation can negatively affect their campaigns.
They are bound to monitor their domains anyway for potential trademark infringers. They may then share their Brand Monitor findings with the IT security team so they are aware of potential phishers and spammers who may be using domain look-alikes to prey on their customers.
Brand protection is crucial though organizations sometimes overlook it as they focus more on product development and increasing sales. So the process often ends up being associated with trademark registration, which is no longer a silver bullet in this day and age where threat actors and counterfeiters can easily register a domain and create online shops and malicious websites. As such, companies can better integrate brand protection in their existing functions by:
●Incorporating trademark monitoring into trademark registration and management
●Monitoring keywords in domains as part of market research
●Including the use of domain intelligence in IT security management
Brand Monitor by WhoisXML API can be used across these business processes to help keep track of your brand, your competitors, and the overall market. The domain intelligence it provides can also enhance existing cybersecurity measures.
About the Author
Jonathan Zhang is the founder and CEO of Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP)—a data, tool, and API provider that specializes in automated threat detection, security analysis, and threat intelligence solutions for Fortune 1000 and cybersecurity companies. TIP is part of the WhoisXML API family, a trusted intelligence vendor by over 50,000 clients.
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