When you start any business you are, in short, building a brand. One of the biggest aspects that is not given enough thought is the protection of your brand, and digital risk and connection to reputation. At the end of the day, your reputation is your passport to do business with other people, corporations, small businesses and so on.
“So how do I protect my Digital Risk and Brand Identity?”
.au Domain Names and your ABN
If you have recently registered a .au domain name either directly or via a hosting/marketing agency, make sure that the domain name is registered to your ABN. The key point here is your Australian Business Number needs to be listed. If it is not then you will need to make sure that this is corrected as soon as possible.
The risk is if you don’t own the domain name then who ever controls the ABN can have your site brought down in minutes. If that is not enough to make you lose sleep at night then consider if you are trying to win new business, and you have a major contract waiting to be signed. Should a savvy competitor check your domain name ownership and realise that you don’t own it, they may sit on the information until the crucial point and then let the customer know.
It would be very much like me asking for your business and getting you to hand over a significant amount of money, but on behalf of another company when I don’t work for them.
I might have an email address of email@example.com and I might also reply to that email address but if my ABN is Jonny Be Good Promotions it might be worth checking further.
It was not too long ago that con artists were renting houses in expensive neighbourhoods and then selling them to unsuspecting people, only for those people to find out that they had lost a lot of money.
The sound of reputations being destroyed is loudest to the person who has spent time and effort to build it.
Other Relevant Domain Name Spaces
It would be exceptionally easy to go broke before you started your business by securing every conceivable domain name out on the web. DON’T do it.
Unless you are a mega-corporation your pockets are not deep enough. Consider a strategic approach and register, where possible, the .com version of your domain name as well as the .com.au. In addition to this I would also look at some of the new GTLD (Global Top Level Domains) as well.
Let us say that your company name is ACME Pty Ltd:
If you have a rent roll then "acme.rental",
If you are a IT security company "acme.security",
If you have a café then "acme.cafe" or "acme.cityeats" or "acme.coffee".
Compiling the list of possibilities and the working out your long term strategy on which to secure should be an early 'must-do' on your business plan.
Chrome and Firefox are going to be giving priority ranking to websites that have valid SSL certificates over sites that don't. This is good practise for other reasons as well. It will mean that your visitors should be able to visit and disclose personal information on your site and be comfortable that the information supplied will remain private. There are many SSL providers and you should be able to obtain an effective SSL based on your business and budget requirements.
You may ask how does this protect my digital brand?
If your site is encrypted with an SSL certificate then you have a greatly reduced chance of confidential information being obtained by expert hackers that are looking for weaker sites to pilfer money or customer information from. If your site gains a reputation as being unsecured then your customer base will soon stop transacting through your site. Reputations are destroyed in minutes and take years to build up or rebuild.
Your hosting provider should be able to assist you with making sure that you have a valid SSL on your site.
Like domain names, securing your brand across multiple countries will quickly become costly. The thing to remember is that if you have a trademark and it is infringed, it provides you with the legal avenue to tackle that infringement. It is not an automatic go to jail card and you will still need to employ the services of a legal representative to bring them to heel.
Likewise when you start a business it is worthwhile performing a check to make sure that you are not infringing on a trademark as well. It is an expensive and time consuming exercise to put a website together around a brand name.
TIP: A good place to start these checks is the IP Australia site.
As all of the above ties into your Digital Brand Identity it does pay to ensure that you have each consideration covered off. Having a sound strategy will give you a strong direction for your business growth and ongoing digital sales and marketing activities.
If you feel that you need advice on any of the above then I am more than happy to provide some further insights on how to protect the various elements of your digital business identity and minimise your digital risk.
For further details on any of these points above with a confidential discussion on how we can assist you for digital marketing and risk strategies, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or register for a free initial consultation.