Personal Branding: 5 Ways To Protect Your Brand
In a recent article, I wrote about the importance of protecting your personal brand in the age of social media and constant (and almost instant) information streams. Well, due to overwhelming public demand (well ok, just a few people including @Wise_Man_Say) I have been pressed to specify a few ways to help protect your personal brand.
In the article called “Personal Branding: Protecting Your Brand”, I stressed the importance of being aware of your image – knowing how your brand is viewed by your customers or clients and others. Here, I decided to start at the beginning and think of five initial things that can be done to protect your brand online. Here are five steps that can be taken right away to help you monitor your brand:
1. Trademark it!
This may seem like a no-brainer to most businesspeople, but you’d be surprised how many businesses never take the time to take the legal route to protecting their brand. I would suggest making the investment in a trademark lawyer who can do a proper and thorough search. This can be relatively inexpensive if you think about all of the trouble that can show up down the road if you have to start from scratch because someone else has been using your name or a similar logo or slogan, etc.
2. Buy The Domain Names You Need
Now that you’re in the clear with a trademark search, marking out your space online is crucial. Your website will be one of your most valuable resources – the place where your brand will be on display for all to see. There are several inexpensive and reliable options for purchasing domain names (NameBargain.com, GoDaddy.com for example). Most people usually only think of the most obvious website address, but I suggest that you buy multiple versions of this website and have them all point back to your main web address. Also, think ahead. Do you have any future goals of branching out into other areas? Go ahead and buy domain names for those projects as well, just to lock them down. For about 10 dollars a year per domain name, it’s not a bad investment.
3. Social Media Platforms
Your website will be the hub of your business online, but don’t forget about all of the social media platforms that your business should actively participate in. (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) A great resource that I found recently is http://www.knowem.com, which allows you to search for a specific user name across hundreds of different social media sites. It then shows you if that user name is available on each site.
4. Monitor Your Brand
As I wrote before, being aware of your brand online is extremely important. This consists of knowing what your customers are saying about you - or if any publications or bloggers are reviewing your services or product, etc. One of the best ways to monitor your brand is by setting up Google alerts. If you have a Google account, you can set these up where you can get daily or weekly email notifications when your brand name (or your name, etc) shows up online. This is a great way to see where your brand is popping up online.
Since more and more consumers are finding and interacting with businesses through social media sites, I also suggest setting up an account with a third party social media manager like TweetDeck or HootSuite. Through these, you can post updates to several different social media sites at once as well as monitor what’s being said about your brand by Twitter and Facebook users and so on.
5. Be Social!
It’s not just enough to have a website, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Use them! You are the best representative of your brand. You know more about you that anyone, right? So, be sociable with people – if someone comments on a blog or article of yours, give them a thank you, or keep the conversation going.
Customers like to know the people they do business with. Be involved with your customers (or friends and followers.) Isn’t the best to have a” friend in the business?” So be “friendly” and you’ll be amazed how many people will seek you out when they need your services or product.