Marketers and marketing agencies deploy consistent and strategic advertising tactics to make branded products and services from traditional advertising to digital marketing to physical marketing efforts such as merchandising. Sometimes, these tactics are misconstrued by the target audience if you, as a business owner or an advertising agency, lack deep knowledge of your customers that allows you to speak to them or if you lack the sensitivity to understand how they’ll react to a message. You must set up protocols to protect your brand from these dangers. Take a look at the Tweet posted by an inexperienced intern that caused worldwide criticism of the company as a sexist institution.
Moreover, in modern marketing and sales, driven by marketers and agencies, some campaign ads are created without strict adherence to the ideology and beliefs of your target market, such as the one above. This makes a brand susceptible to malicious exploitation, either by individuals or competitors, which could ruin the brand’s image and result in dire consequences such as legal threats, poor market performance, and poor employee morale. You must set up a system to protect your brand from inadvertent and insensitive brand messages.
As a business owner, therefore, you must follow protocols to guide you into defining, implementing, and adjusting protective measures to attain brand safety while adhering to brand objectives and compliance with industry standards. For instance, you might require approval before anyone within the company posts something to social media using their affiliation with the company in their profile or posting to one of the company’s profiles. Take a look at this Tweet from an executive at Chrysler to see how the individual posts from executives impact the brand image of the company.
Protect your brand
Navigating the ever-changing digital advertising world is already tough, and as a business owner, you need to maintain a clean and brand-safe environment. Protecting your brand is crucial for digital advertising since this content often doesn’t undergo the same rigorous approval as traditional advertising due to the temporal nature of digital marketing that requires flexibility and immediacy, especially when responding to consumer comments. When you deliver an ad that falls flat with your target audience, you put your budget, reputation, and relationships with the media and customers on the line.
Brand safety ensures that you maintain a positive relationship with buyers. When you have proper safety precautions in place, your content appears in a relevant, positive environment while targeting the right audience accurately.
1. Know the risks you face
Understanding the risks you face is the first step in defending yourself from malicious internet users or competitors who wish to damage your brand’s reputation. Define the type of content you consider unsafe for your brand to help you establish rules that guide you and your authorized employees throughout the life of campaigns and advertising as they create content to support your marketing efforts.
Your brand is your most valuable asset. You must protect your brand or you’ll lose customers and may even face serious legal challenges. Regardless of your own marketing efforts, people may devise several negative ways to taint your brand.
- Malicious users may use search engine keywords to divert customers away from your website
- Competitors may employ pay-per-click fraud, which ends up driving your charges up without giving you benefits
- SEO manipulations might impact your rank, which, in turn, reduces traffic to your site
- Negative reviews are a part of life but sometimes competitors, disgruntled employees, or unreasonable customers post fake negative reviews for the sole purpose of damaging your brand image
- These individuals may sell alternative spellings of your brand to competitors through cybersquatting to use the internet space against you or purchase a different domain similar to your own. For instance, WhiteHouse.gov is the domain owned by the White House, while WhiteHouse.com is a porn site
We’ll discuss how to respond to some of these risks later in this post, but knowing which risks you face and monitoring these risk factors is the first step in reducing the risk and protecting your brand. An obvious step, in addition to setting up a review system to reduce the potential for reputation-damaging posts from within your company, is to offer superior products and customer service to reduce the impact of efforts to damage your reputation. With positive reviews, comments, and even defense of your brand from satisfied or delighted customers, you dilute the impact of malicious actors.
For instance, I did a project for Disney where I analyzed content posted on a community site linked to their website. In one situation, a disgruntled guest complained about his treatment by Disney when he complained about his experience. A number of folks actively-engaged with the community jumped to Disney’s defense without calling out the complaining guest. They didn’t pile on but offered a rationale for the treatment he received and stated they would love to receive the compensation he got from Disney executives. In short order, the complainer turned into a Disney supporter and reflected differently on his treatment. Win-win.
2. Positive response to negative criticism
Having good PR (public relations) may not always work for you. Sometimes it’s a source of potential attacks against your brand. Criticism towards the brand is every entrepreneur’s biggest fear and their reality. You can’t make everyone happy all the time so negative feedback is inevitable.
However, you can always find the best ways to use poor reviews to your advantage. You can easily change how customers view your company through your willingness to address the problem at hand by responding to their concerns and offering a solution.
Never, ever argue with negative reviews and comments. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and attempting to argue or, worse, delete their comments only fans the flames of discontent; magnifying the problem. Instead, apologize, empathize, and offer solutions. Transparency, quick response, and efforts to solve the problem show your community you’re committed to them and that, while no one is always perfect, you take their issues seriously. Copywriters are experts in creating interesting content to divert customers from listening to disparaging comments from malicious individuals using pen drawing or other tactics.
This is a step that goes beyond protecting your brand, as issues related to negative criticism can hinder performance and diminish trust and transparency across the industry. As you can see, trust is impacted by many brand behaviors but treating customers and others well has a big impact on trust, which, in turn, impacts purchase decisions.
3. Maintaining brand consistency
Your voice, tone, and image should be instantly recognizable across all your marketing efforts from packaging to social media to your website. Brand consistency helps customers relate to your brand and reinforces messaging across platforms. By presenting a consistent brand, your brand develops a personality and your market develops a relationship with the brand based on that personality. As you can see, top brands project a consistent image, and their personality impacts how customers and prospects relate to the brand as customers purchase brands consistent with their own perceptions of their personality and the image they want to project to others.
4. Own alternative Domains
Competitors and others out for no good look for opportunities to slander your name, ruin your advertising, and capture your traffic. To ensure that malicious users do not use the alternative spelling of your brand name to drive customers to an alternate website for their own gain, purchase any possible domain name that may pop up when users misspell yours.
Registering domain names likely to use variants of your brand can stop scammers from potentially using them to exploit unsuspecting individuals and ultimately ruin your advertising opportunities, as mentioned above in my example of the porn site.
In other cases, users want to create a community in opposition to your brand. For instance, just as you have a community that loves Apple devices, including a Mac users group, there are those out there who would like to destroy your brand. Often, companies will buy domains like “I hate XYZ [company name]” or “XYZ [brand name] sucks” to limit the ability of these users to develop oppositional communities. The same goes for social media user names.
5. Constantly watch over your brand
Your brand is your responsibility. Make use of available tools to help watch over your brand consistently and be ready to respond quickly. Tools such as Google Alert, Brandwatch, and others can help you search through the internet across social media and other platforms where people mention your brand for negative posts. The tools can also help you identify where your brand is likely to appear when using different search engine results, and this can guide you to structure your SEO strategy accordingly.
Constantly watching over your brand enables you to tackle problems as soon as they arise and stop potential pitfalls that could jeopardize your brand image and your marketing campaigns. Beyond constantly monitoring your brand, you also need to determine whether your content reaches the intended audience as content aims to elicit a reaction from consumers. Monitor comments to ensure your intended market interprets your messages the way you intended.
You must protect your brand by constantly monitoring and responding appropriately to comments. For negative comments, your communication should be open and honest by empathizing with customers for your failures and offering solutions to their complaints. For positive comments, thank them and make them feel special to encourage further positive comments.
You must set up a system that allows for the review of content posted to company profiles while maintaining flexibility and allowing your employees to quickly respond or take advantage of events to promote the brand. This is a tall order and something most brands find an evolving issue within the firm. Using tools such as Hootsuite, which allows posts to stay as drafts until approved by an individual is one way to handle these twin requirements. Enforcing rules that approval must take place quickly and identifying backup personnel to handle approval when the designated individual is unavailable help.
Creating a system that reduces the impact of competitors and disgruntled users to damage your reputation means monitoring your keywords and other elements of SEO. It also means buying up domains that might serve as platforms to help disingenuous actors.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.