Today’s consumers rely on the internet to find products and services they need from well-established brands. According to statistics, 91% of consumers only buy from brands they trust.
You rely on your online reputation for your business continuity. It’s what allows your customers to build trust and loyalty. Without it, would they find another brand to place their business?
The question is, if it’s so important, why is ‘brand reputation’ an area of risk management few businesses invest in?
What’s the difference between Cyber Security and marketing ‘brand protection’?
Many still consider ‘brand protection’ as a marketing rather than security function. Today, it’s essential to protect your brand across many business areas, particularly Cyber Security and risk management.
Whilst marketing and Cyber Security teams use similar brand monitoring tools and approaches, the brand monitoring activities are not the same.
The aim for security teams, is to identify malicious and unwarranted use of your brand’s intellectual property. They need broad visibility across the public attack surface to identify and prevent brand impersonators.
When coupled with a strategy for removing unsolicited content, brand monitoring can help defend your business against reputational damage, revenue loss and online attacks.
Marketing teams focus on brand mentions on social media, as well as comments on review sites and public forums. Brand monitoring provides marketers an understanding of how they are seen online, enabling them to communicate directly with their target audience, address any criticism, and discover ways to enhance their online image.
Whilst there are differences between the approaches, the underlying goals are inherently linked.
Cyber Security, marketing and online reputation all go hand in hand.
Think of it this way:
1. Poor Cyber Security could lead to a breach which exposes your customer data.
2. This could lead to negative social media mentions and reviews.
3. Leading to a lack of brand trust.
What is the impact of brand threats?
Unlike cyber-attacks which can disable your systems, brand attacks are often unnoticed. If your brand has been imitated, you may not know until defective items are available for purchase or your customers have been the victim of a scam.
At this point, the damage is already done.
Domain spoofing is a frequent form of brand assault; it involves criminals generating imitative websites and employing a legitimate email domain to offer counterfeit goods and services. Scammers either sell duped products, or steal money from your customers.
Whilst the culpability of the scam lies with the fraudster, the genuine company often gets caught in the firing line.
Dealing with disgruntled customers is bad enough, but you could also face legal repercussions for not doing enough to stop the sale of fake items.
Given these risks, it’s clear why brand monitoring and protection should be a top priority for businesses. But what steps can you take to reduce risk and improve your brand resilience?
How to improve brand resilience?
Before you begin, identify your most critical brand assets, and the key areas which could be vulnerable to attack.
This could include brand names and slogans, logos, music, registered trademarks, copyright images, hashtags, and domains.
- Logos and images: Are your logos, branding and images being used to legitimise fraudulent sales or scams?
- Products: Are your products at risk of being faked and sold by criminals?
- Domains: Is your domain or mobile app at risk of being spoofed/closely mimicked?
Once your key brand risks are established, you need to monitor the web to check for brand misuse.
10 steps to brand protection
Brand owners need a set of tools and resource to:
1. Domain spoofing:
Continually monitor to ensure no fake or spoofed domains exist or are being used nefariously. This includes websites and email domains. You will need insight into new domain registration’s status that could suggest a brand impersonation attack or phishing attack.
2. Logo use:
Gain insight into your online brand placement. Search the internet to find where and how your logo is being used.
3. Social media:
Monitor your social presence across Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Use sentiment analysis to look for negative comments. Detect fake social media pages/profiles, and the malicious/unauthorised use of brand assets.
4. Mobile apps:
Identify fake applications created by criminals to impersonate your brand to steal sensitive data and money.
5. Anti counterfeiting:
For those with a physical product, you need to be checking for counterfeit products.
6. Think global:
This means monitoring e-commerce shopping sites around the world. You will need to think big, not just the platforms you are already selling on in the same country.
7. Translate phrases:
Rather than simply searching for your brand name, it’s a good idea to use translated phrases related to your goods or services.
8. Website defacement:
Monitor for unauthorised website hacks such as inserting malicious code, posting offensive or harmful content, or even data deletion.
9. Confidential documents:
Check for confidential documents available in the public domain.
10. The deep and dark web:
This covers the unindexed pages you won’t find from a Google search. Here you might find stolen customer data, hacker forums, covert communication channels or dark web marketplaces. Dark web visibility helps detect mentions of your brand, unauthorised utilisation of your intellectual property, and any attempts at fraud or deception that could harm your company.
Is Cyber Security brand monitoring part of your risk management strategy?
Times change. Brand protection is far more than a PR function used to maintain a positive company image. Today the importance of a brand protection strategy spreads into the Cyber Security sphere. Encompassing the protection against brand violations, which could lead to financial and reputational damage.
An effective brand monitoring strategy will help you regain control of your brand assets online. By adding brand protection into your risk management strategy, you can keep your critical assets and customers protected, and have confidence in the safety of your online identity.
If you would like to chat to our team of security experts to find out more about our brand protection services and how we can build your brand resilience, you can call us on 0121 663 0055, start a live chat or email email@example.com.
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