I often get asked by marketers why they should be interested in the design, set-up and execution of their company’s corporate domain name and brand protection policies. My answer is simple: it affects everything you do in the digital channel – your budgets, your effectiveness, your reach and, ultimately, your success.
Let’s start by making an assumption (pretty safely, as the breadth of customer industries at NetNames illustrates) – every brand now has a digital presence and therefore every brand has a stake in where, how and by whom their brand name is used online.
Traditionally, the responsibility for the management of a brand’s digital presence has been overseen by one of three departments: IT (is it up or down?); Legal (let’s catch the bad guys); and Marketing (does it all look nice?). I’m deliberately being simplistic with the above, but the decision making about what your digital presence is and why it matters has not necessarily fallen to the right people in the past, nor will many of the decisions themselves have evolved in pace with technological change in the digital world.
For Marketing, understanding the opportunities and threats that exist online is now more important than ever. As more and more businesses continue to see customer interaction and revenues increase on the Internet, it’s vital that you’re actively involved in taking the decisions that will affect your future marketing spend and measurement.
Below are three key reasons why you should care enough to get involved in shaping and making your company’s domain name and brand protection policy decisions.
- Domain names are critical assets that help your customers find and interact with your brand online. If they can’t find you, you’re not exploiting the online channel to the best of your abilities, and your brand will suffer as a result. ‘New’ online brands, often using obscure names, have shown that the Internet can create, grow and sustain revenues in a very short space of time. To stay one step ahead of your competition, you need to harness the power of the online channel – a comprehensive and innovative domain name policy will help you to do just that. It will also prevent customer diversion and loss of revenue by making it harder for third parties to meaningfully exploit your brand. You’ll need to understand your current policy, and maybe refresh it if necessary – particularly with new gTLDs and dotBrands gaining more of a foothold
- All of your digital assets should be aligned and working towards your strategic goals. Social media, mobile apps, SEO, and online and offline ads all play a part in directing traffic to your destination sites, and it’s there that your campaigns will live or die. A robust domain name adds value to everything else you do, and it becomes the hub of your campaigns. You are judged by your return on investment – why not ensure the policy that drives registration of your digital assets is decided and controlled by you? You’ll need to align your brand, social media and sales teams on a local and global basis to work towards the same goals
- You’ve come up with the campaign and invested the budget – how are you going to optimize and protect your investment? It’s one thing to make sure all of your plans are working towards your goals, but what about third parties? You’ll need to understand how they’re using your brand, how they’re directing traffic away from your destination sites and how they’re affecting your success and impacting your marketing spend. This isn’t just about domain names and websites, but also about social media infringements, fake mobile apps and use of visual assets – understanding the challenge makes it easier to prevent this erosion happening in the first place
A fashion brand wants to grow on- and offline sales by 10% year on year
It has ambitious store-opening plans in many countries
Online country-specific launches are planned to happen simultaneously with physical store openings
Domain names are registered to be part of local marketing campaigns and to provide enhanced identity to local destination websites
Marketing drives the domain name and brand protection initiatives, proactively building activity around its local budget, with the support of Legal and local executives
Robust brand protection activity protects the domain name and marketing investment on a local and global level
On- and offline sales and growth targets are achieved
This formula is repeated on a global scale