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How to protect your brand using domains

How to protect your brand using domains

Posted 01st August, 2022 by Sarah

When most people buy a domain name for their business, they tick that task off their list and move on to the next.

Then they’ll barely give their domain name a second thought until it’s time to read the renewal emails.

However, domain name purchasing is a science and an art, and if you invest a little bit more time and strategic thought into your purchase process, you’ll be able to put some measures in place that can protect your brand identity online as your business grows.

In this blog we’ll look at brand identity threats that can arise in the domain name world and a few tips for how to avoid these threats by being strategic about the domain names you buy.

Cybersquatting

At a top-line level, cybersquatting occurs when a nefarious character registers a domain name with bad intentions.

From a brand identity perspective, cybersquatting sees a person register a domain that’s similar to an existing company trademark. They can do this by registering a domain with a typo – for example, starbacks.com – or registering the domain with a TLD that the legitimate company doesn’t own – for example, starbucks.net instead of .com.

The nefarious person then either holds the company to ransom for the domain or they use the domain by pretending to be the company and selling counterfeit goods and services at that domain. Some bad actors also use these domains to carry out phishing attacks and the like.

3 ways to protect your brand

Of course, start-ups and small to medium businesses don’t have the budget to buy every domain that could possibly be a target of cybersquatting in the future.

However, you can pick and choose from the below tactics to give your own brand at least some degree of protection.

1. Buy alternative extensions

If you own a .com domain you might want to look into purchasing the equivalent .net or .org to go along with it if the domains are still available on the market.

Of course, just because these alternative addresses are available doesn’t mean they will be targeted by bad actors.

If your company is called starfish and you make sandwiches, you won’t need to worry about a company called starfish that sells socks picking up the equivalent .net or .org, for example.

However, if these matching domains are available and uncostly, it might be a good move to snap them up.

In addition, you might want to think about picking up a domain with an extension that reflects your business.

Let’s go back to the example of you owning a sandwich shop called Starfish. You could consider solidifying your brand identity by purchasing starfish.catering if it was available.

The starfish sock company, meanwhile, would want to think about investing in a starfish.clothing domain.

2. Think about typos

In the introduction to cybersquatting above we gave the example of starbacks.com.

We do not advise you to visit this web address as it takes you to a website that tries to make you believe you have had malware injected into your computer.

However, it’s the prime example of how a bad actor can register a domain that features a trademark with a typo and use it for malicious purposes.

Have you ever been told by your customers that they often make a typo when they type your web address into the search engines?

Or have you been told that it’s easy to confuse your web address with a similar one – for example, your business is called Donuts4U but your web address is donutsfouryou and your customers often type in the former address rather than the latter?

If either of the above two scenarios sound familiar to you, then it’s worth looking into registering alternative domains.

3. Buy domains that include your product offering

If you focus on one sort of product or service at your company, you will want to think about protecting your identity by registering a domain name that reflects that offering.

Going back to the starfish example again, you could register starfishsandwiches or – imagine starfish sandwiches sells a famous metre-long sub – starfishsandwichessub.

Ready to buy your next domain?

tsoHost offers a long list of domain names. To find your perfect ones, visit our search pages.

Categories: Domains, Marketing, Small Businesses

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