In the nascent and uncharted Web3 world of NFTs, crypto and the multiverse, Rick and his teams at Appdetex are doubling down on brand protection.
Many of the world’s largest brands, including four of the five most valuable global businesses, trust Appdetex to process and analyze massive volumes of data from across the internet to detect and address brand misuse.
Here, Rick walks us through how organizations of all sizes can prepare and protect their brand assets from nefarious digital threats.
M.R. Rangaswami: What steps can businesses take to improve how they protect their brand in a world where brand misuse is proliferating at a record pace, online and off?
Rick Farnell: Business today face a tsunami of digital and physical brand threats – including fraud, copyright and trademark infringement (both nefarious and well intentioned), brand impersonation and identity theft, digital and digital-plus-physical counterfeiting, and other types of brand misuse – all of which present a clear and present danger. To address these threats, companies of all sizes should take a proactive approach to securing and protecting their brand and IP online.
As a first step, companies should implement programs and policies to actively monitor how their brand is being used across digital channels. Monitoring the brand will not only protect companies, but also provide important insights into trends and new potential marketing and engagement opportunities. Once monitoring is established and brand threats have been identified, companies must take action to address instances of brand misuse. This includes removing and remediating brand abuse via brand protection platforms, taking legal action and even turning to law enforcement.
Forward-looking brands are also going a step further by thinking beyond current brand misuse and taking measures to prevent future abuse. This can include securing relevant domain names, as well as analyzing and correlating previous instances of brand misuse to identify trends. With the right technology and processes in place, businesses can get ahead – and stay ahead – of the tidal wave of digital brand threats on the horizon.
M.R.: How should Web3 factor into considerations for brand protection in the near term and longer term?
Rick: As Web3 quickly gains in popularity and usage, it will present a host of new challenges for brand protection. In this new mixed reality of the internet, malicious actors are already adapting quickly to profit off of brands, creating a new class of nefarious behavior.
In the near term, most Web3 threats will predominantly still occur in the Web2 world, such as the theft of crypto wallets and NFTs through phishing attacks. Sophisticated fake communities and deceptively enticing promotions are leading to fraud and are showing up in highly integrated social media, mobile applications, paid internet search and imposter Web2 websites. These fraudulent promotions are intended to entice Web3 enthusiasts to engage and feel like part of “something big.” For example, illicit actors may make claims of a private release of an NFT collection or metaverse property as a ruse to walk away with credentials and assets.
Longer term, there are a handful of steps brands should take to ensure protection. To start, companies should begin actively monitoring Web3 channels to see how their brand is being used. Next, they should try to secure relevant Web3 domain names. Web3 domains are very different from the Web2 world as there is no centralized authority like ICANN. This means that once a bad actor holds a Web3 domain that infringes on trademarks, it’s extremely difficult to get that domain transferred to the rightful owner.
M.R.: As C-level executives finalize their budgets for 2023, what do you recommend they focus on?
Rick: Budgeting for 2023 is well underway for most enterprises. With looming reports of economic downturn, many businesses may be tempted to slash budgets across the board – and brand protection is no exception. What business leaders need to realize is that brand misuse is not going away – in fact, as the digital landscape continues to widen, online brand risks will become increasingly prevalent, which can lead to serious ramifications on a business’s bottom line.
My recommendation for C-level executives is to not take their foot off the pedal when it comes to protecting their brand online. In the year ahead, businesses will need to be increasingly proactive in their approach to protecting their brand, IP, copyrights and more in the evolving digital universe, or risk the consequences.
M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com