Protecting your brand can be like going to war. There was a time when protecting a brand was like dropping an atomic bomb – you annihilated your enemies with a single but powerful blast. Back then the battlefield was traditional media and it was about who had the biggest bomb (budget) – times have changed and so entry barriers have been removed.

With the advancement of technology came the fall of widespread, mass-advertising and the growth of targeting, personalized marketing. Now, protecting the brand becomes a war on equal footing. Marketers are not the only ones who have a say in the matter. The consumers are armed with a powerful arsenal called the Internet – and online, there are heavily armed troops waiting to damage your reputation called trolls or haters.

The branding war does not happen on a product’s main page alone. The war happens around it as well. Brand managers need to establish a strong defense on the main page, but must carry out strategic assault on key battlegrounds. Otherwise, the battle will be won, but the war will be lost.

There are five steps to a strategic victory in defending a brand:

STEP 1: Establish a Winning Defense

The main product page is the headquarters and it must be protected. It has to be optimized for certain keywords to appear first on Search Engines’ results list. The product page must be visually appealing and must have compelling content. The user experience must be attractive enough to convert visitors to either leads or customers.

STEP 2: Identify the Battlegrounds

The real battle however, does not happen on the product page. Visitors are more likely to do more research about the product on other websites or forums or consult their online social network of friends. The battle is now taken to different fronts, there is no advantage of sleek design or convincing content. People can talk freely about the merits of any product, it is important to know where customers tend to dig more information about certain products before they commit to purchase.

There are free and paid tools to monitor these potential battlegrounds where brands might be being torn apart by the hate brigade.

Here are some of the free stuff a Branding Manager can use:

  • Google Alerts – Set up alerts for your brands and relevant search terms.
  • Monitter – Monitor real-time Twitter updates for up to 3 search terms.
  • Twazzup – More advanced Twitter search to identify influencers on a given topic.
  • Replyz – Track and answers questions about your products.
  • Social Mention – Real time buzz widget like Google Alerts.
  • Klout – Track and identify social media influence.
  • Twittercounter – Find Twitter users influential in certain areas.
  • Big Boards, Board Reader, Boardtracker, Yuku Find – Track forums for discussions about your brands.

 

Here are some paid tools (most of which have a free trial) that can also be used to monitor the social web:

 

STEP 3: Consolidate the Army

When it comes to battling for your brand, there is no better army to defend your product than truly satisfied customers. Companies can send representatives or moles to infiltrate discussions but they will be overwhelmed if the number of unsatisfied customers is far too many. This is why Mindvalley prioritizes a top-notch customer experience standard to keep them happy and satisfied. No one is better equipped to defend a product than users who are really happy about it.

STEP 4: Allocate the Arsenal

The biggest mistake in protecting the brand is dedicating all resources to the main page. Many companies do this. A simple Google search about their product and their main page will be at the top. However, the following search results are negative comments about their product. There will be forums with people complaining about the quality or awful customer service. These problems are usually left unaddressed. This is because no one is responsible for digging around the social web. All resources and arsenal are focused on beautifying the main product page and all else are taken for granted.

STEP 5: Divide and Conquer

Finally, use these four things to commence on a consistent and regular brand protection plan. Ensure that the brand has a) an appealing product page, b) careful monitoring of social web where it might be discussed, c) a satisfied customer fan base, and d) enough allocated resources to this cause. The branding battle is a defense/offense strategy. With these tools, the product will divide and conquer the market.

[googleplusauthor] is Web Security Expert at Mindvalley

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