Competition among brands selling online is fierce. As e-commerce sales increase each passing year, you as a brand marketer are hard at work to build relationships with consumers, strengthen your brand's visibility, and increase your bottom line.

You must do all that while you defend against online counterfeiting, domain squatters, typo squatters, hackers, phishers, and other cyber-criminals trying to divert your brand's traffic and damage the brand you've spent so much time and money in building.

Worst of all, cyber-criminals steal from your bottom line.

Before you look for a brand-protection tool, you should ask yourself the following questions to figure out the ROI your brand will realize from implementing such a tool.

1. How much money are you losing to digital brand infringement and counterfeit goods?

The cost of intellectual property theft in the US alone runs in the range of $300 billion dollars, according to the FBI. Over half of that amount is due to the proliferation and sale of counterfeit goods. Now, the release of over 1,400 new gTLDs (generic Top-Level Domains) will contribute greatly to trademark infringement and will make it nearly impossible to protect against manually.

Do an assessment. Come to a roundabout figure of how much your brand could be losing due to cyber-criminals infringing upon your brand name and sending consumers to counterfeit websites.

2. Do you understand how to identify and prioritize all the digital risks to your brand?

With so much infringement and squatting out there, do you know how to identify all the threats to your brand? Can you prioritize the ones that present minimal risk as opposed to a more advanced risk?

3. What's the first step in implementing a good digital brand-protection strategy?

You need to look at all the digital assets associated with your brand. You might see a need for hiring a staff dedicated to monitor threats to your brand using a bunch of disconnected free tools. You will probably soon come to realize that this is not a thorough approach and can prove costly. Additionally, the potential for missing something big is a strong possibility.

4. Are you aware of all the threats your brand faces online?

By now, you may have come across various online threats that your brand faces online. Are your digital assets prone to such threats as domain squatting, in which a cyber-criminal has used a variation of your brand's name to divert traffic to his or her site? Domain squatting is a big issue now with all the new gTLDs being released.

For example, say you have a brand named KidzToyz. Your website is You've trademarked the name KidzToyz. A domain squatter might just buy a domain named BuyKidzToyz.Sale. It's imperative to be aware of all the threats out there that need monitoring, so you can select the brand-protection tool that meets your business' needs.

5. Are you aware of all the platforms where your brand is at risk?

There is an increasing amount of platforms where your brand can be violated. With mobile-app usage sky-high and PPC ads fueling Internet traffic, the threats are ever higher.

Brand parasites are keeping an eye out for places to strike. Violating PPC ads that are using your branded keywords are rampant, and those ads can cause your brand damage as well as the most important threat, steal from your bottom line by diverting traffic to their phony sites.

Mobile apps are increasingly replacing websites, and in so doing have invited infringers of trademarks, counterfeiters, and other cyber-criminals to brand damage your brand. You need to assess whether you have the resources to constantly monitor the various app stores to identify apps that may be infringing your brand.

* * *

I hope those questions help you in determining on whether you need to implement a brand-protection tool. Judging from what I've seen, the answer is "yes." Which tool you choose depends on your answers to those questions and other threats you see out there.

What threats have you encountered to your brand? What are the strategies you've been using to counter these threats? Please feel free to comment in the section below.

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image of Alex Gutman

Alex Gutman is a marketer and evangelist at Cooladata, a full stack behavioral analytics company. Its solution empowers marketers to see the complete user journey.

LinkedIn: Alex Gutman